Nearly five years ago, the British series Forbidden History devoted one of its first episodes to the “mystery” of the giants of Sardinia, a claim I covered when the October 2013 episode was redubbed with an American narrator and broadcasted on U.S. television in 2015. As I noted, the argument that the Bronze Age nuraghe towers of Sardinia were the work of giants is laughable, if for no other reason than the fact that their interiors are scaled to normal human sizes.
In this episode, Ancient Aliens covers the same material as Forbidden History five years ago, and it returns us to a time before 1849, when legends about giants weren’t just the colorful folklore of Sardinia’s actual country bumpkins but was a widely shared cultural myth designed to foster ethnic pride in the face of encroaching assimilation from the mainland.
And to do so, the producers of Ancient Aliens at Prometheus Entertainment finally collapse their two most profitable franchises into a shared universe of pseudohistorical fantasy by bringing in Curse of Oak Island treasure hunter Marty Lagina to join ancient astronaut theorist Giorgio Tsoukalos in gawking at the Bronze Age ruins of Sardinia and speculating about bible giants. Some might call this a clash of the titans, but more accurately, it’s a cross-promotional stunt designed to boost each franchise’s ratings by exposing its viewers to the other. But more important is the appearance of Evangelical Christian Nephilim hunter Timothy Alberino, who recently claimed that the Nephilim took a spaceship to another planet to escape the destruction of Atlantis, but who is better known for his extremist Christian views working together with anti-gay, anti-liberal Evangelical nut-job Steve Quayle, a frequent InfoWars guest. This is sad, but not surprising. It all comes together in the end. Quayle, of course, uses the Nephilim to justify extremist conservative positions, and Alberino follows him in that.
Last week, in the New York Times, Ancient Aliens executive producer Kevin Burns said that the show was not actually about aliens but instead “It’s really a show about looking for God.” And we go looking with angry, paranoid hate preachers and their associates. Cool. Good to know where you stand.
The first segment opens with Tsoukalos, dressed in his hippie Indiana Jones field uniform, and Lagina, wearing a polo shirt promoting his winery (dollar dollar bills, y’all!), meeting together in Sardinia to discuss giants, and Tsoukalos wistfully recalls an episode of his old series, In Search of Aliens, in which he previously sought giants and failed to find them. We view the statues created by the Nuragic civilization of Bronze Age Sardinia, and the show compares the statues to robots because they have highly stylized faces with large round eyes. They resemble the malfunctioning robot from an early episode of Scooby-Doo Where Are You? (S01E08) and Albertino jumps in to allege that the statues are proof that archaeology cannot explain the history of Sardinia. These statues are called “giants,” but they are not actually gigantic. Our heroes stand next to them, and they are the same height.
The show claims that the Nuragic people are from Sumer and that the giants are the Anunnaki, which the narrator wrongly identifies as “winged giants,” something that is not supported by the ancient texts. Jason Martell confuses the artistic convention known as hieratic scale—meaning more important figures are drawn larger—for proof that the Sumerian gods were literal giants.
The second segment begins by discussing the myth of the Cyclopes and the ancient Greek belief, recorded by Pausanias (2.16.5 and 2.25.8), that Bronze Age ruins had been built by the Cyclopes in the Heroic Age. The men then go to visit Bronze Age tombs in Sardinia that modern legend attributes to the giants, and Alberino claims that the tombs were placed atop the actual graves of giants, which is why excavators have yet to find their bones. Tsoukalos wonders if all of the myths of giants around the world refer to the same beings. Probably not; giants, like dwarves, are a pretty universal myth and one of the most basic storytelling conventions—make something bigger or smaller than life. Lagina’s only contribution is to say “enough talking” to Tsoukalos.
Alberino claims that the tombs of the giants were transformation chambers meant “for the rite of incubation,” which he claims involves sleeping in a crypt to absorb the power of the dead. As the etymology of the word—the “cub” refers to lying down—implies, incubation was actually an ancient practice, widespread in the Greco-Roman world, of sleeping in a sacred place to receive a prophetic dream from a god or hero. Perhaps Alberino would find it upsetting to learn that the early Christians took over the practice and used it themselves, on the authority of 1 Kings 3, where Solomon practices it.
The third segment sends Tsoukalos and Lagina to examine large carved stones, one of which features what a guide claims is an upside-down person passing through a portal to another dimension, and which Tsoukalos identifies as a Watcher from the Book of Enoch. Weirdly, since this is such an important part of the ancient astronaut mythology, the narrator wrongly claims that the story of the Watchers is found not just in the Book of Enoch but in the Bible, in the Book of Daniel, including the fall of the angels and their sins on Earth. While this story is found in the Book of Enoch, Daniel mentions only the Watchers as a group of angels, with no story attached. I am uncomfortable with the show trying to fool audiences into believing that the Enochian narrative (1 Enoch 1-9) of the sins of the fallen angels and their provisioning of knowledge to humanity is somehow canonical. It is an expansion of Genesis 6:1-4, but it goes far beyond the scant biblical passage, which never calls the Sons of God either angels or Watchers. Why lie about that? Worse, the show claims, without either biblical or Enochian sanction, that the Watchers themselves were giants, not just their children, which must either be news to the human women they mated with, or else was very painful for them.
Tsoukalos doesn’t care about details, and instead he compares an ancient stone platform on Sardinia to platform pyramids around the world, as though raised square platforms could look all that different. Martell alleges, following his idol, Zecharia Sitchin, that the platforms were loading docks for passing UFOs, which had the technology to traverse the stars but couldn’t take off or land without crumbly piles of mud and stone to sit on.
In the fourth segment, Tsoukalos and Lagina visit a Sardinian stone circle and its beautifully constructed underground well from around 1800 BCE, and I sighed when the narrator falsely alleged that archaeologists view Bronze Age civilization as made up of “so-called primitive people” and therefore “struggled to explain” how these savages could cut blocks into regular rectangles and stack them neatly. The well was built to observe the so-called “lunar standstill,” a period when the moon appears not to move for several hours, with the idea that at that moment the moon would be reflected in the well’s subterranean water through a skylight. Tsoukalos claims that aliens had to give the Sardinians mathematical knowledge or else they could never have stacked stones or observed the moon. Who, exactly, really thinks that the Sardinians were “primitive”?
This, sadly, leads to yet another discussion of the Nephilim, and Hugh Newman claims, presumably through confusion with the Watchers in the Book of Enoch, that the Nephilim studied astronomy and the sciences and taught them to humanity. The Nephilim were bloodthirsty cannibals in the Book of Enoch, so the Watchers must be meant. David Childress states that he believes that Sardinia was a “special refuge” where the Nephilim escaped from Noah’s Flood and found safety. The narrator notes that this contradicts the Biblical claim that all terrestrial life ended in the Flood save that of Noah and his Ark, but the show wants to have its cake and eat it, too, so the Bible is both true and false at the same time, right in the essentials, but revisable where needed to create more drama.
In the fifth segment, Alberino alleges that it isn’t possible to build stone towers while also actively farming the land and “defending yourself.” He has a painfully narrow view of human achievement, and doesn’t seem aware that farming has an off season, which has traditionally been the time when farmers engaged in building and other non-farming activities.
An allegation that seven nuraghe towers imitate the Pleiades (even though the photo comparison they make does not align) leads the show to conclude that the Anunnaki and the Watchers are the same creatures, that they are aliens from the Pleiades, and that they either laid out the nuraghe or explained how to do it to the Sardinians. The narrator tells us that the Sardinians are evil Bible giants, the Nephilim, and repeats the allegation that the evil giants survived the Flood—an event that the show no longer, after all these years, even bothers to pretend to pay lip service to questioning, despite the fact that hundreds of years of research have found exactly no evidence that it ever happened. This is now the Hour of Power if the Crystal Cathedral were replaced with a spaceport. I am fascinated that in its dotage the producers are no longer shy about baring the show’s Christian underpinnings or openly advocating for a literal reading of the Bible. What’s even more fascinating is that Tsoukalos is still working on a completely different show, and his old-fashioned, aww-shucks nuts-and-bolts ufology commentary is in tension with the producers’ Gnosticism-meets-Christian-fundamentalism framework.
In the sixth segment, Tsoukalos claims that “some type of censorship is going on” because “a guy” who was going to show Tsoukalos and Lagina a bone allegedly belonging to a giant “pulled out” before filming could take place. It couldn’t be that the “guy” was pulling their leg, or that the bone wasn’t what it was represented to be, could it? Lagina asks Tsoukalos about ancient aliens, and Tsoukalos tells him that the aliens were the real teachers of the Sardinians. “I respect that immensely,” Lagina said, and he wrongly calls Tsoukalos’s speculation “scientific” because “I can’t prove you wrong.” That is pretty much the exact opposite of science. Lagina offers a milquetoast conclusion saying that he is not convinced by the ancient astronaut theory but won’t dismiss it either. I wish he would go back to Oak Island and stay there, where I can safely ignore him.
Finally, I want to point out that since Ancient Aliens returned from its summer hiatus, David Wilcock has been notably absent from the program. Is it possible that his right-wing rants, promotion of discredited Pizzagate conspiracy theories, outspoken love of Trump and Russia, and anti-Semitic claims about the Rothschilds trying to kill him finally make him too toxic for a show that happily features Timothy Alberino, a man who claims that the liberal “technocratic elite” are literally in league with Satan?
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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