I am increasingly unsure whether it is worth regularly reviewing a show that has grown so old and so stale. In past years, the series aired one quarter per year, about thirteen weeks, and it was, if not an event, at least gone long enough to generate renewed interest. But the current 12-month, year-round schedule seems to be taxing audiences, which have declined from nearly two million at the show’s height to under a million today. (It recovered some from series lows in 2019, which bottomed out around 750,000 viewers.) My audience engagement for these reviews has followed the show’s trajectory. My website attracts tens of thousands of readers, but the latest statistics show only 709 people read last week’s Ancient Aliens review over seven days. By contrast, as recently as two years ago, five thousand people read those reviews each week.
There isn’t much to this episode. It’s just repeats of previous episodes, material from 1960s books, and leftovers from creationist texts.
The episode opens with some free advertising for space super-fan Elon Musk’s SpaceX, with the 30-million-page “lunar library” that rode to the moon on one of the company’s missions, containing a full copy of Wikipedia’s English edition and other knowledge. Nova Spivak of the Arch Mission Foundation, a group that used SpaceX to send the lunar library to the moon after Spivak tweeted to Musk, who became excited about the project, says that they were inspired by “retracing the steps of potential ancient astronauts.” I guess that explains why Musk occasionally tweets something about aliens building the pyramids or speculating about UFOs.
Then the show discusses the “London Hammer,” a nineteenth century hammer head embedded in a rock that creationists falsely claimed was 140 million years old. This segment is recycled from a 2017 episode. Acknowledging it is probably mistakenly dated by believers, the show moves on to King Tut’s meteoric iron dagger that the talking heads allege is impossible for Egyptians of the New Kingdom to have worked themselves. Obviously, it is not since it exists, as do other examples of Egyptian iron—something known since the nineteenth century.
A partial repeat segment about a wedge of aluminum alloy found with mammoth bones in Transylvania follows. They claim it is a piece of a landing craft. As I pointed out the last time they ran this segment, it is almost certainly a broken excavator tooth from the equipment used in the excavation.
After a commercial, we get another repeat, this time rehearsing the usual raft of claims about Hindu mythology reflecting aliens flying around in spaceships. Again, as always, the talking heads make no acknowledgement of the shared Indo-European background of various mythologies, or what we can learn about the Proto-Indo-European belief system from comparison. Instead, they treat Hinduism as completely independent and an accurate representation of ancient history. Repeat pieces about Dwarka and a flood that destroyed some pagodas are rehearsed. I remember seeing once before the claim that a natural formation under the waters connecting India to Sri Lanka, known as Rama’s bridge, but I can’t recall if it was actually on Ancient Aliens or just in something inspired by it. It’s been a Hindu nationalist claim for a while, but I never cared enough to make a note of it in my write-ups. It isn’t really worth discussing a glorified sandbar here since it is obviously not an artificial wall built by aliens.
After another break, the show discusses stylized ancient art from Sichuan, China, from a culture known as the Sanxingdui—and recycled from a 2015 episode. The faces are recognizably human, but the show (and a 2007 Chinese news agency article, also discussed in 2015) wondered if they belonged to space aliens. A repeat segment about a turtle-god from Guatemala is spliced in along with some other pieces of ancient art with claims they are all astronauts or pilots in various suits. Lord Pakal’s “rocket” reappears for its twice-annual repetition.
Following the next break, the show discusses, yet again, the Antikythera mechanism, the famous ancient Greek computer, best known for surviving antiquity. Other examples are known from literary sources (e.g., Cicero, De re publica 1.14), but the show pretends as though it is completely without context or precedent. Similar devices were still being made in the Byzantine period. The most interesting part of the segment is seeing that Jason Martell has stopped coloring his hair and now looks like Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker’s Dracula after the vampires nearly killed him.
After another break, the show discusses using synthetic DNA as a mechanism for storing information, a topic they have covered before. The show speculates that aliens may have stored similar information in artifacts, but they provide no evidence that lumps of rocks or bronze include any hidden information.
The final segment has Giorgio Tsoukalos claim that human DNA contains alien messages. Michio Kaku claims that he has scientist friends who are actively searching for secret alien messages in human DNA. The show then repeats claims from the preceding segments before ending.
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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