As you may know, while Malta has a late-period legend about a giantess building some of its megalithic temples (perhaps, some scholars think, a folk memory of ancient goddess worship, though this is uncertain), the ancient astronaut theory decided the decidedly human-sized rooms and doorways were the work of giants because Erich von Däniken decided it back in Signs of the Gods in 1979:
It is often surmised in scholarly literature that the island of the Cyclops was present-day Sicily. It may be so, but not necessarily. Malta and its four small satellite islands are only 95 kilometres from Sicily. Anyone who studies the megalithic buildings carefully will share my impression that giants did the work. Were they the ‘inventors’ of Cyclopean masonry?
Now, von Däniken wasn’t inventing some amazing new claim. He was stealing wholesale from earlier ancient mysteries authors, who in turn were borrowing directly from Victorian and older sources. Consider, for example, George Nelson Godwin’s Guide to the Maltese Islands from 1880: “The first inhabitants of whom we have any record are the Giants who dared to war with Jupiter.” As far back as Giovanni Francesco Abela’s efforts to understand Maltese history in the early 1600s, megafauna bones on the island were falsely explained as the bones of Cyclopes from Homer or Giants from Genesis. Abela himself devoted a chapter of his monumental Malta Illustrata (1647, Latin: 1725) to the Giants as the first inhabitants of the island. Although these claims were disproven with the recognition of fossil elephants in the early 1800s, references to Maltese giants continued in nineteenth century literature, from which ancient astronaut writers found their succor—and fed these claims to suckers. They are still recycling these old claims.
After explaining to viewers what “Malta” is, the show asks who the “super-smart” people were who built the megalithic structures of Malta thousands of years ago and then “disappeared.” The cart-ruts, a frequent topic of interest on this show, are brought into discussion yet again. Robert Schoch suggest that the ruts date back “before the end of the last Ice Age” because the grooves extend under water around the island of Malta. The show alleges that Göbekli Tepe, thousands of years older than Malta, prove that Malta’s ruts might data back before the Ice Age. Schoch claims Malta’s temples must be older than the Ice Age based on his “study” of Göbekli Tepe, while William Henry claims that “a separate race” built the Maltese temples.
Schoch claims that the megalithic construction’s “engineering feat” is too sophisticated to be the work of what the narrator calls “primitive” Neolithic farmers. Giorgio Tsoukalos claims people in 3000 BCE had “no known language” and had only “just invented tools.” Therefore, based on these false claims, he alleges that the temples devolved from the earliest and best—a claim that does not stand up to archaeological scrutiny, as Maltese archaeologists pointed out when Graham Hancock made the same claim. The show claims that it’s amazing that anyone could build the temples without written language, though this did not bother them when it came to Stonehenge or Göbekli Tepe.
Abela’s claims that giants build the temples are brought into evidence, but the show accepts his megafauna bone finds as Giant bones rather than animal bones. The show sent Giorgio Tsoukalos back to Malta last year to film new versions of the same scenes he did there in 2014, again claiming that the temples represent lost knowledge that “mainstream archaeologists” are dismissing because they refuse to admit that writing is a precondition for construction. Beats me what he’s getting on about.
Material about giants in the Mediterranean from 2014 and 2020 is repeated.
Giorgio Tsoukalos and Erich von Däniken visit a Maltese temple and discuss a female statue found inside. The show dismisses the idea that it is a female goddess image used in fertility rituals, and instead David Childress asserts that it represents an extraterrestrial hybrid giant who mated with a human, i.e. a Watcher/Nephilim. Why? The Bible, mostly. No actual Maltese archaeological evidence supports the claim. A discussion of Genesis 6:4 and the Watchers and Nephilim follows.
I’ve lost count of how many times this episode has called ancient people stupid. The famous hypogeum, dating to around 3700 BCE, is somehow redated to 10,500 BCE because a fresco of bull (now destroyed thanks to a worker’s error in the 1980s) supposedly resembles Paleolithic cave art, though bull frescos are, of course, exceedingly common across time throughout the Mediterranean region.
Tsoukalos says he remembers visiting the hypogeum in the 1980s and testing its technologically sophisticated acoustics. How old is he? He’s supposedly only three years older than me, and I was a small child in the 1980s. I guess he was an ancient astronaut theorist from elementary school. The show never quite makes a claim about what the acoustics prove, other than they think ancient humans were too stupid to keep digging until they reached a satisfactory sound.
Material about elongated skulls being done in imitation of aliens from the 2014 In Search of Aliens episode and its subsequent recycling on several episodes of the Ancient Aliens mothership is rehearsed. A clip from 2014 is used. Material about the sagittal suture is recycled, the show having failed to learn anything about how head-binding can lead to the closure of the sagittal suture, as medical researchers demonstrated more than a century ago. Von Däniken says giant aliens “had sex” with ancient humans over and over to see humanity with their genes. I wonder how that supposedly worked, since giants are, well, giant, and Peruvian mythology explicitly claims that the giants’ penises were so big that they raped normal human women to death with them (Pedro Cieza de Leon, First Part of the Chronicle of Peru, Chapter 52). Do alien giants have micro-penises that are therefore normal human size? How unmanly.
The show alleges that the temple of Mnajdra dates back to 10,200 BCE based on calculations made by a land surveyor in a fringe publication back in 1992. The claim requires many assumptions not supported by evidence. The show then repeats that ancient Maltese people were too “primitive” to move stones or to stand in one place and look at the sky while building them before letting von Däniken—who usually claims to only be “asking questions”—assert directly that extraterrestrials are here now and observing us.
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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