The first segment covers ancient stone walls across the Near East that were likely used as enclosures for herding animals to their deaths. The show suggests that the walls were not hunting enclosures but were instead geoglyphs. The show then makes a false claim, that geoglyphs were meant to be viewed from the air. That’s a bit like suggesting that a football gridiron is meant to be seen by blimps. They can be, but that isn’t really the point. Geoglyphs can be seen from the air, but they likely had more earthbound purposes, much like the way Christian churches have cruciform shape even though it is not easy to see from within. The symbolism is the important part, not the appreciation of it from afar.
Ancient Aliens next relates geoglyphs to petroglyphs, suggesting that the same symbols appear on the ground and on rocks for some unstated reason that is implied to be aliens. A complex geoglyph from Nazca somewhat similar in shape to a Tibetan mandala is referenced, and it was first seen on In Search of Aliens many years ago and recycled several times afterward on the Ancient Aliens mothership.
Carvings from Lake Winnemucca that have appeared on the show before are recycled here again. The Paiute legend is that the carvings were made by giants, but that’s really just a way of saying they were really old. They are a fantastic example of Paleoindian art, but there is nothing in them that suggests extraterrestrials. The narrator, though, suggests that space alien giants carved them. Frankly, I’d have expected better from space aliens. Presumably they have space-age tools and not stone ones to carve with.
The second segment looks at various large humanoid geoglyphs whose stylized features look vaguely like aliens, as imagined in midcentury science fiction. That some have astronomical alignments is indisputable, but the assertion that they these alignments point in some vague way to the time of the aliens’ return goes unproved, without even a token effort to explain how that might work. David Childress flew over some glyphs with Alfredo A. Figueroa, a Native researcher who self-published a book alleging that he had found the Aztec mythic homeland of Aztlan in the United States. There isn’t much alien content here, except the suggestion that if humanoid figures depict gods, and the gods came from the sky, then they actually depict aliens. A halfhearted effort is made to suggest that the American desert southwest is Aztlan, but nobody tries very hard to explain why or provide evidence, so I won’t try very hard to imagine any.
The most interesting part of the segment was the promo leading into the break announcing that X-Files star David Duchovny has decided to slum it at History’s Alien Con with Giorgio Tsoukalos. It’s enough to make me turn on science fiction and horror and declare a pox on both their houses.
The third segment goes back to the apparently bottomless well of the Nazca lines, this time discussing how camera drone uncovered previously unknown geoglyphs from the Paracas culture, predating the Nazca. It’s interesting archaeology, but Tsoukalos repeats the episode’s major theme, which is that the lines must be important to spacemen because they can only be seen from the sky. But when he says hey were “created to contact someone up there,” he doesn’t prove that these beings “up there” were real. For example, how would we distinguish between lines meant to communicate with space aliens and lines made because people believed, wrongly, that imaginary gods sat on the clouds and looked down?
Erich von Däniken and some other talking heads allege that geological features on Mars are actually geoglyphs, intentionally created by space aliens. They compare these to the works of the “Mound Builders” of ancient America. They see what they want to see, frankly, born mostly of pareidolia and a complete inability to understand how geological forces can create geometric shapes. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. But it is hardly the first time such confusion has shaped weird ideas. Joseph Smith, Jr. mistook a hill shaped by glacial forces for an ancient burial mound and imagined an elaborate history for it that became the Book of Mormon. Sure, his apologists explained it all away, but nevertheless, it’s where the story started.
The fourth segment describes early Egyptian rock art, the earliest hieroglyphs yet found. Hugh Newman suggests that hieroglyphs came from “nowhere” and that nobody understands them. This is just stupid. We possess examples of early Bronze Age proto-writing from Egypt and can trace the development of hieroglyphs. The show doesn’t like this, so they accept the Egyptian myth that writing was gift of the god Thoth, and blather on about whether Thoth was a space alien who crashed to Earth in the giant iron benben stone of mythology. The benben is typically considered a meteorite, but the show alleges that humans emerged from the benben upon its arrival on Earth. This seems at odds with the standard story, that it was the primeval earthen mound on which life developed. I’ve seen versions where Atum sits on it after it arises from the sea, or lands on it as he descends from space, but I am not familiar with one in which it acts as a spaceship. It is not my specialty, though, so I cannot say what the talking heads were referring to.
The fifth segment discusses images of the cosmic egg, a widespread mythic symbol of fertility and creation that many fringe believers think is connected across disparate cultures around the world. But in reality, eggs are pretty universal around the world and require no prehistoric contact to inspire images of eggs as fertility symbols. Therefore, it’s silly when David Childress suggests that aliens had to teach people to use eggs to symbolize creation. How would they ever have discovered what happens when an egg hatches without space aliens to tell them?
The show then repeats material from two weeks ago about the golden discs shot into space on Voyager in 1977, and it uses the efforts to create symbols understandable to space aliens as an analogy to suggest that hieroglyphs, petroglyphs, and geoglyphs are similarly universal symbols that encode messages from aliens. Oddly, though, no one finds it odd that Voyager sought to create symbols that were easy to understand, and yet not one of the geniuses on this show can tell us what secret messages the aliens allegedly were trying to communicate.
The final segment briefly references UFO encounters where supposed witnesses claimed that aliens use hieroglyphic writing. That this proves nothing about hieroglyphs or space aliens should be obvious from the fact that H. P. Lovecraft assigned hieroglyphic characters of an incomprehensible nature to his fictitious space aliens ninety years ago. Of course we couldn’t read alien writing. Even the dumbest hoaxer knows to say that any writing was in strange symbols. The show repeats material from many previous episodes about the Rendlesham Forest UFO sighting in the 1980s and the Kecksburg UFO crash of the 1960s, which have been debunked many times before and need not be reviewed again here. I will note only that in past episodes Ancient Aliens and especially In Search of Aliens asserted that the Kecksburg UFO was actually the Nazi time-travel Bell device, but here it is now a space alien device with pseudo-Egyptian writing. Consistency has never been the show’s strong suit, but it’s kind of depressing that they seem not to remember their own claims from hour to hour, or, worse, don’t care.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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