Many things, however, have stayed the same. The show is still repetitive as hell. Nan Madol has been a staple of Ancient Aliens since its early days, and in season six they devoted a chunk of an episode on “forbidden islands” to the ancient site, and I covered their arguments at the time. These are repeated again wholesale in this episode. Back then, as I wrote, they spoke of
… Nan Madol and its massive basalt ruins constructed atop 92 manmade islands off Pohnpei. The show argues that the people of the city, being primitive brown people, simply could not have built them on their own because the blocks are too heavy for ancient people to lift and transport using muscle, ropes, levers, and boats. That’s just silly! Instead, sorcerers used “auditive levitation” to fly the stone using magic sound waves. Remains of this sound wave technology, of course, conveniently disappeared without a trace. The show asserts that the city is cursed and that the German governor died in 1907 the day after visiting the site as a result of the curse. Dr. Viktor Berg, the German colonial deputy governor of Pohnpei at the time, in fact died of sunstroke and exhaustion, according to the official records, shortly after excavating the tomb of Isokelekel. Later excavators of the tomb suffered no ill effects. The show fails to note that the “curse” was invoked at the time because Berg had been hated by the natives for his imposition of harsh German colonial policies, including disarmament and restrictions on cultural expression. It was part of native efforts to resist colonial rule, a constant source of tension during the German administration of the island.
And guess what? We hear the same thing again this time! Indeed, I’m pretty sure some of the computer graphics appeared in earlier episodes.
This time, however, ancient astronaut theorists Giorgio Tsoukalos and David Childress got a free vacation of the episode. The show paid for them to visit Nan Madol to shoot scenes for the show. “Will they solve the mystery of one of the world’s most baffling sites?” narrator Robert Clotworthy asks. No, they will not.
I have to say that it really sounds like Clotworthy is phoning it in this season. In parts of the narration, his voiceover almost seemed as if it had been cobbled together out of spliced audio, though I’m sure that wasn’t the case. He did have some strange mid-word pauses, however.
The show starts with a potted history of Nan Madol and then starts to make some uncomfortable claims. First, they assert that there is no reason for Nan Madol to exist since Pacific Islanders have no need for “advanced” large-scale cities. That’s pretty racist. Childress adds that the Pacific Islanders couldn’t have built the islands’ sophisticated irrigation system because… well, I guess because they’re brown. They don’t even offer an argument as to why indigenous people couldn’t have been responsible. They just assume the audience will accept that native peoples couldn’t do smart-person stuff. They also attack archaeology by arguing that there is no real way to date the site, so it must therefore be much older. For them, context doesn’t matter, so they reject the lack of evidence for occupation of Nan Madol prior to around 1100 CE.
Tsoukalos and Childress arrive in Nan Madol, and Micronesia sends its top official in charge of cultural preservation, Augustine “Gus” Kohler, to greet them and say some weird things about being unable to move the basalt blocks around the island. Another official, the country’s director of its national archives, claims that space aliens built the site. Micronesia seems to be in dire need of better science education.
Tsoukalos, without evidence, asserts that the site is “thousands of years older than mainstream archaeology suggests.” Childress agrees and asserts that archaeologists are hiding truth because they don’t want to admit to large-scale megalithic construction in prehistoric times.
Much of the discussion revolves around the question of whether human beings can move heavy things. Tsoukalos intentionally misunderstood an expert’s claim that calculus was needed to understand the physics of the bending of a doorway’s lintel under the weight of the wall above, and he therefore concludes that the builders of the site possessed calculus to engineer its doors. Calculus describes the doorframe, but it is obviously unnecessary to know that you need to put a big heavy beam across the doorframe to carry the weight. There is no indication that the beam was calculated to be the absolute minimum strength to carry the weight or any other factor that would suggest the use of calculus.
Eventually, they start talking about ghosts and claim the city is haunted and then imply that there is “something mankind is not yet meant to discover” under the city—basically Cthulhu in R’lyeh.
After a break, the show again marvels that stone is heavy and people in the past took so much effort to move stones. Tsoukalos and Childress find many different ways to imagine that Pacific Islanders weren’t able to do this, at one point claiming that “aerial surveys” were needed to quarry rock! The claim that the stones were levitated into place appears again, but now the two magician brothers who raised them have been transformed into “strange visitors” in order to imply they are space aliens rather than immigrants from Polynesia. They are also identified here as giants, though the claim does not appear in the non-fringe versions of the story I have access to. Alternative legends that birds carried the stones to the site are introduced as well, though the show implies that these birds are airplanes or drones and folds it into the story of the magician brothers as though they were one and the same.
As we spin toward the end of the show, our heroes attempt to hunt for the fictional “second” Nan Madol, the one underwater, using a submarine drone. The show tells us that the underwater cite is “pre-Flood” and dates back to 12,500 BCE. The show simply asserts that some natural formations under the water are a city. The failure of their drones is attributed to underwater alien technology in the underwater basalt. They decide that the basalt has been magnetized as part of an anti-gravity scheme, which ought to be easy enough to test with a magnet, but no one thinks to do that.
Childress declares Nan Madol as “naval” base and an airport for various types of ships traveling from Asia to Mexico and Peru. Clotworthy, in openly Christian terms, says this was “pre-Flood,” referring again to Noah’s Flood and Genesis. As ought to be obvious, there is no infrastructure at Nan Madol to support airplanes, nor is there any evidence of a port that could support and service massive warships in the style of imperial Europe or imperial China. Both Tsoukalos and Childress suggest that the city had to have been built before Noah’s Flood when the sea level was lower, though this negates their claim only minutes earlier that the current Nan Madol was built atop an Ice Age city. It can’t be both simultaneously, but the ancient astronaut theorists don’t want to risk accidentally admitting that humans could build things in water without alien help.
The show doesn’t really have a conclusion. It just sort of stops when they realize time is up. Clotworthy doesn’t even bother to raise his voice to its usual conclusion crescendo.
If I had to attribute the decline in Ancient Aliens’ ratings to a cause, it is probably this: For the first ten years, the show reveled in its own lunacy, throwing a wild array of claims at the wall in each episode and never lighting on any one topic for longer than a few minutes. Now in its dotage and struggling to fill time, they turn over each hour to a slower, more painfully boring vacation travelogue that only feints at times toward space aliens and spends the remainder of its hour basically summarizing the Wikipedia article about whatever the week’s topic is. It’s just not fun anymore, and I imagine that audiences get bored. I know I do. Ancient Aliens was never good television, but I could appreciate the pacing and scope in earlier years. Now, it’s just … so … slow.
1/26/2020 06:22:11 pm
Jason, your review has been up all day and I am ( at 6:30 pm CST ) the first post...yesterday's post that started with my basically saying most people don't give a damn about AA anymore, has ( of this time) 35 posts. Does that tell you anything?
1/26/2020 11:30:25 pm
Before you posted your comment, there was a protracted flame war on this thread between Kent and Jim that was centered around issues of spelling and grammar with special emphasis on the use of dashes for certain compound-words. The argument became extremely bitter with accusations of stalking that included much foul language. It got so bad that Jason was forced to delete all 150 comments and so when you arrived the comments section was completely blank.
1/27/2020 11:11:44 am
Thanks for the information and apologies to Jason!
1/27/2020 11:31:39 am
Machala, what AC said is nonsense,,, didn't happen.
1/27/2020 06:41:04 pm
It's well known that Jason's opinions are based on defending Christian belief. Knock Daniken off his perch and get on with believing in the Bible.
1/26/2020 06:58:13 pm
The ancient astronaut theorists always say they can’t understand how something is done - so it must be aliens - even if there are experts who know and understand how it was accomplished.
1/27/2020 02:06:52 am
Exactly how did they move 50 ton stones?
1/27/2020 04:44:54 am
Sledges, levers, ropes, and people. Sometimes shovels or other digging equipment. Water in some cases. A ship or boat if you're going over water, which is quite a lot easier for longer distances. Experimental archaeology has tested quite a few possible methods, and there's sometimes evidence remaining at sites showing what was done.
1/27/2020 05:49:37 am
Any links to such test where 50 ton stones have been put on top of one another?
Jr. Time Lord
1/27/2020 11:50:37 am
I have seen a woman raise an 11 ton obelisk with a kite.
1/27/2020 03:51:15 pm
I have an 11 inch “obelisk” that’s been raised many times by women!
Jr. Time Lord
1/27/2020 04:46:01 pm
The difference is I'm insane and make a lot of stuff up.
1/26/2020 07:18:02 pm
I sure hope Dr. Burton from UCLA got a hefty honorarium...
1/26/2020 07:58:41 pm
"Micronesia seems to be in dire need of better science education."
1/26/2020 10:10:44 pm
Any logical person's first question would be "How the hell did ancient people do that?" . And then brainstorm some possibilities. AA never asks that question, because in most cases the answer is obvious: Lots of manpower, a little ingenuity and plenty of time to try, fail, and try again. But I guess there would be no show unless "Aliens must have done it...".
1/26/2020 11:19:11 pm
The whole point of magnets is you don't need a magnet to tell if something is magnetized. In my day a 9 year old would have known this. SMFH.
1/27/2020 01:06:22 am
Did you use magnets to lobotomize yourself before you became a permanent in-patient?
Shaggy T. Dope
1/27/2020 01:41:49 pm
Fukken anti-gravity magnets. How do they work?
An Anonymous Nerd
1/27/2020 08:18:42 pm
Part of the problem of course is that, even if we knew more about this culture and this site, the Fringe would just disbelieve everything that real research has uncovered -- they do it time and time again to sites we know a good bit about such as Baalbek and the Pyramids.
Straight 'outta Aegypt
1/28/2020 12:13:52 am
An Anonymous Nerd
1/28/2020 08:27:58 pm
Yes, when the Fringe is sadly as commonly accepted, well-funded, and politically connected as it is these days, it's hard to define.
Straight 'outta Aegypt
1/28/2020 11:27:12 pm
Thanks for your response. I'm short on time, and everything else at the moment, as I'm sure we all are, but I wanted to respond promptly enough to favorably manage this connection, and in order to honor the time you spent responding. In other words: I've always liked you. Hi!
Straight 'outta Aegypt
1/28/2020 12:27:47 am
Don't be shy. You can have a reasonable conversation with me. I already know you're smarter than I am.
The Bible and Judeo-Christianity is Fringe
1/28/2020 03:08:51 am
What is all this bullshit that there is no supernatural or paranormal stuff in the Bible ?? Even the birth of Jesus Christ was supernatural and paranormal, having been born of a virgin. And the Nativity stories are not historical at all because Jesus Christ never existed - his "life" having been contrived during the Second Century.
Ancient Egypt and Pyramids
1/28/2020 03:13:20 am
You wanna know the facts about Ancient Egypt and the Pyramids - that's all hokum and ancient religious mumbo-jumbo that adds up to nothing at all. Just read the Pyramid Texts. It's all there. Rituals to non-existent Gods.
Bauval, Gilbert, Hancock and 10,000 BC
1/28/2020 03:17:30 am
Reading and writing wasn't invented until about 3400–3100 BC - and making star maps and constellations is more advanced than that. That puts the 10,000 BC theory into perspective. The same rubbish as Plato's claims about Atlantis made 9,000 years after the said event (if Plato was speaking historically and not metaphorically about Atlantis).
Straight 'outta Aegypt
1/29/2020 12:43:11 am
1/28/2020 08:26:55 am
"the basalt has been magnetized as part of an anti-gravity scheme".
1/28/2020 06:28:03 pm
So are we to assume that the most technologically advanced civilizations in the galaxy make their buildings out of roughly cut stone?
Straight 'outta Aegypt
1/28/2020 11:52:58 pm
Nice shot, Man.
2/9/2020 01:31:53 am
basically the unexamined premise of ancient aliens mentality is that humans can't pick their noses without breaking their arms. if aliens were involved in anything, we probably taught them cyclopean building and they taught us oddball electrical stuff
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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