We open with Adam Frank’s 2018 paper claiming that an advanced civilization could, in theory, have existed on Earth tens of thousands of years ago, since the evidence of such a civilization would have vanished. Frank was wrong in that such a civilization would have left traces in the environmental record, such as evidence of plant and animal domestication. Ancient Aliens, though, is a bit slippery on the term “civilization,” which they seem to equate with state-level polities, but they never really define it. Instead, they talk about the myths of various “ages” of human kind going back tens of thousands or even millions of years. This leads to a discussion of the pre-Adamites, whom they attribute to Jewish mythology and “Enochian” literature, though the pre-Adamite speculation is primarily associated with early Islamic discourse before they show up in Jewish or Christian discussions. The show seems to be conflating them with the Nephilim, since the “Enochian” literature doesn’t mention pre-Adamites, only Watchers and Nephilim.
Naturally, the show returns to the well of Sitchin Studies to describe false claims about the Anunnaki, whom they misidentify as a winged bird-headed deity, and which they conflate with the Seven Sages, for no good reason. Based on this, they claim that any picture of a person with a bird head is evidence of a worldwide beaked alien Anunnaki culture. David Childress says it is impossible for humans to have imagined themselves as birds so all people must be imitating Anunnaki bird-aliens. I’m not sure what that says about my toddler when he flaps his arms and yells “I’m a bird!”
The second segment attempts to revise the construction dates for famous ancient sites to push them back tens of thousands of years. This idea comes to us from Mark Carlotto, a believer in the “face on Mars” who wrongly believes that ancient sites always targeted the cardinal direction perfectly. Therefore, he concluded that the Earth’s crust slips around the Earth catastrophically, misaligning sites which were once perfectly aligned about 50,000 years ago. Carlotto bases his work on Charles Hapgood of the “Earth-crust displacement” nonsense. The show falsely claims that Einstein endorsed Hapgood and was reading his book at his death, and they bizarrely want to rehabilitate a scientifically unsupportable idea. Hapgood, incidentally, was building on an original claim made by Brasseur de Bourbourg in 1873 based on his own misunderstanding of a mistranslated Aztec text. All of this is pointless, however, since Carlotto is wrong that the ancient sites were always aligned to the north pole. Many ancient peoples cared about other alignments, and sometimes they just built things where they could, given geological constraints.
During the break, History teased The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, which they are billing as “the next big dig” from “the producers of Curse of Oak Island”—who are also the producers of Ancient Aliens. One of the Skinwalker hosts is a frequent Ancient Aliens talking head. Well, the good news is that giving Skinwalker Ranch the Oak Island treatment will guarantee that nobody will ever find any “answers” or even much of a mystery, as it descends into infinite boredom. Of course, Shatner is also piggybacking on Oak Island’s high ratings with a season premiere devoted to explore Templars on Oak Island, so I guess we’ll see even more cross-pollination as the History Channel turns its programs into the lunatic pseudo-historian version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The third segment relates Robert Schoch’s false claim to have discovered “writing” at Göbekli Tepe. I’ve analyzed and debunked that claim before. The show doesn’t bother to explore the claim, as though conceding it is too flimsy even for them to spin into a segment. Then they are off to repeat their own previous discussions of a 2001 claim that a “pyramid city” exists off the coast of Cuba. The show falsely labels a computer-generated image of the site as the “actual” radar image of the city. Archaeologists saw nothing special in the images. This leads to Schoch’s discussion of the age of the Great Sphinx of Giza, which Schoch believes to have been eroded by rain at the end of the last Ice Age. His claim emerged from a gut feeling and a desire to prove John Anthony West and Schwaller de Lubicz right in their desire to support some wrongheaded ideas from nineteenth-century French archaeologists, based in turn on their misidentification of a Ptolemaic text as one from the Fourth Dynasty. I’ve laid all this out before, and I summarized it in the link at the beginning of this paragraph. The more interesting thing is that Schoch is repeating revised stories about his early 1990s experiences dating the Sphinx almost verbatim from an interview he gave in January. He may not be right, be he is consistent, once he settles on a new and revised “official” story.
I loved Irving Finkel’s book The Ark Before Noah and his exploration of the Mesopotamian cultural background of the Great Flood myth, but for fuck’s sake, what is he doing on Ancient Aliens? It is always incredibly disappointing to see great scholars either stoop to appearing on this show or get hoodwinked into appearing on it. After Finkel talks about the flood myth, the show tries to prove that the Flood and the Conflagration happened by giving Schoch time to claim that a solar flare burned the Earth, which somehow is “proof of a global flood.” As per usual when they discuss the Flood, they allege that the gods who warn the flood-hero of the coming Flood in world mythology are extraterrestrials and that the ETs instigated the Flood. Giorgio Tsoukalos claims Noah was a child of space aliens, even though this directly contradicts the beginning of this very segment, which claimed the Jewish Flood story to be a derivative of a Mesopotamian original.
The fifth segment discusses Noah’s Ark as a pyramid, a subject I just covered a few days ago and originally discussed in 2016. It’s an ancient belief derived from the biblical notion that the Ark rose up to its window at the top. Ancient people were sometimes too literal. From this, the show blathers on about Egyptian pyramids and asserts, without evidence, that the Great Pyramid is “the oldest” pyramid and all the others are inferior copies. Erich von Däniken cites al-Maqrizi’s Al-Khitat of 1400 CE to claim that the pyramids are from before Noah’s Flood. You can read what al-Maqrizi said for yourself. After this, the show speculates about pyramidiocy, including whacky claims that the pyramids were “technology” and “power plants”—all ideas we’ve heard many times before. It’s strange, though, that despite citing al-Maqrizi, the show doesn’t seem to have read him, and therefore doesn’t understand that the bizarre claims they throw out about the pyramids are all medieval Arab-Egyptian stories—or that the Arabs originally told those stories of the Egyptian temples, before recycling them for the pyramids centuries later. The proof is that early Arabic-language writers like al-Mas’udi in his Meadows of Gold tell the same stories but say they are about the great temple at Akhmim while later writers like al-Maqrizi know the same stories as those told of the pyramids. I’ve covered all that before, and I’m writing a book on the subject which is due out probably around Christmas, or maybe early next year.
The final segment describes efforts to preserve life in the event of a global cataclysm by shooting genetic material into space. They ask whether space aliens and/or ancient people escaped the Flood via space travel to the Moon and Mars, where they built pyramids. David Childress calls them a “super-civilization,” but they don’t offer even a moment of reflection on what that would mean, or the logistics of building a lunar or Martian pyramid. The same people who assert that humans couldn’t have built ancient structures because the rocks were too big also think that a human “super-civilization” flew to the Moon, which has no air, and built a rock pyramid in the bottom of a crater.
As stupid as this episode was, it was nice to have a return to classic Ancient Aliens, which is a bit more in my wheelhouse and better aligned with my interests than all the military UFO crap.
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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