Today I’m concluding my look at the Italian journalist Peter Kolosimo’s early ancient astronaut book Not of This World (1968; English trans. 1970).
This chapter opens with paragraphs quoted from the French science fiction author Charles Henneberg’s La Naissance des Dieux (1954), which I have never read, but which Kolosimo uses to illustrate what he believes was the reality that aliens battled dinosaurs and Lucifer was an extraterrestrial scientist. He takes the fact that Indo-European languages share a similar word for the Sky Father (Zeus, Dyaus, Jupiter, etc.) as proof that the “gods” were all one species of god, and these were aliens from outer space. He asserts, falsely, that the oldest myths all tell of beings that descend from the sky, and he quotes Soviet sources arguing that passages of ancient texts referring to hours being like days (or vice versa) for the gods are Einsteinian time dilation.
Next, failing to recognize the connections between Near East texts or the contamination caused by missionaries in recording Native myths, Kolosimo asserts that stories around the world all confirm the reality of the Biblical narrative of creation. He paraphrases material from Churchward’s Sacred Symbols of Mu to the effect that Jesus spoke Mayan on the cross. He then thunders that “‘official’ science has persistently denied any validity to the discoveries we have mentioned.” He quotes a number of fringe thinkers to the effect that they felt that science was perpetrating a persecution on those who refuse to conform to dogma out of outright terror that evolution would be disproved and either God or aliens kicking them out of cushy jobs. His quoted source, the scholar of Ice Age art Herbert Kühn, confuses evolution with teleology and mistakenly thinks scientists believe that modern humans are “perfected” apes and that evolution could be proved wrong by demonstrating that species do not become more perfect over time. Kolosimo seems to be trying to restore the idea of degeneracy, the leading belief system in the pre-Darwin era.
Kolosimo must have forgotten that he had already copied material about Marcahuasi (Markawasi) from Pauwels and Bergier many chapters ago because here it is again as the lead-off to a chapter on “Extraterrestrial Temples,” this time copied from a different book, attributed to a “McDonald” otherwise unidentified. The famed F. A. Mitchell-Hedges, of crystal skull fame, makes an appearance (with his hyphenated surname mistaken for a first and last name) to assert that the Egyptian pyramids were built from blocks imported from South America! On Serge Hutin’s authority, Kolosimo tells us that the Olmec worshiped bearded white men, “negroid” men, and cat-faced people. These would be the famed were-jaguars, mythological beings representing shamanic animal-human forms, but Kolosimo thinks they’re probably cat-faced aliens. He further believes that most Pre-Columbian Mexican art depicts gods in “spacesuits.”
Borrowing from Robert Charroux, he references the poem La Argentina by the Spanish traveler Barco Centenera, who wrote of a twenty-five foot high column, atop which stood “a great silver moon / That shone across the lagoon” (5.68-9, my trans.). He claims that this space technology was recorded in Centenera’s diary because he doesn’t know it except through Charroux and, like the French author, doesn’t realize that it’s a fictional poem. Instead, he thinks this was a real and extant “lunar monument” to the space aliens.
He cites Arthur Posnansky as an authority on the antiquity of Tiahuanaco, and he concludes the chapter by citing Soviet claims that any myth referring to birth from an egg actually describes transport in a flying saucer.
Here Kolosimo decides to depart from Churchward and claim that the older fraud misunderstood creation myths as indicating that the powerful white race sailed by boat from Mu to colonize the world. Kolosimo thinks that the fish and/or boats in world mythology were really spaceships. Citing the Soviet mathematician Matest M. Agrest, misidentified as “Mihail,” he claims Sodom and Gomorrah were blown up by nuclear weapons, which also “vitrified” ruins in Death Valley here in America. Kolosimo then claims that the Apache worship Ammon-Ra and can describe Tiahuanaco without having seen it. This will be news to the Apache. He then says that the Great Serpent Mound of Ohio is an “exact duplicate” of one near Stonehenge, apparently misunderstanding the Victorian-era controversy over the alleged serpent mound of Loch Nell (actually a geological formation) by way of Hargrave Jennings’s claim that the Ohio mound resembled the wavy megalithic boulevard at Avebury, near Stonehenge.
Kolosimo reminds us that the Nazca lines were designed for space aliens to admire from above, and claims on Churchward’s authority that wherever spiders are found in art they are symbols of Mu. He then talks of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, in which he claims can be found “hieroglyphics, palaces, colossal statues and pyramids—like the ones in Egypt.” He attributes this to an unnamed book by “Stephen” published in 1841. He appears to be referring to the anonymous Rambles in the Mammoth Cave (probably written by Alexander Clark Bullitt), published in 1845, with six drawings and a map by “Stephen the guide,” actually a slave named Stephen Bishop. The book does mention mummies (actually naturally-preserved bodies), but it says nothing about pyramids or palaces. He seems to have let some science fiction bleed in here as well, unless he was so ignorant or deceptive as to interpret the drawings of the cave’s interior as representing artificial structures.
He concludes with various claims that natural cracks found in geological formations are actually hieroglyphs from deep prehistory. The Mammoth Cave “hieroglyphs” are natural cracks, too.
This chapter opens with a horror story Kolosimo presents as a news account by a “W. Jones” recording a UFO encounter in modern Japan, but it reads like another pulp fiction tale. I really can’t tell since the mangled translation leaves no way to trace the story, which has no identifying details that might place it. He then collects Japanese tales of meteors from the Nihongi and says on the authority of Drake that they were spaceships. Here’s one, from a standard translation: “In the spring of [637 CE] on the 23rd of the second month, a large star shot from the East to the West. At the same time there was a noise as of thunder.” This star, called a Celestial Dog or Tengu in Japanese, is a translation of the Chinese mythic demon the Celestial Fox (the manuscript of the Nihongi makes this clear by placing the two terms side by side). The Japanese applied the name to a supernatural bird, and in the texts their appearance is associated sometimes with meteors and sometimes with flocks of seagulls. He then quotes Drake to the effect that Asian myths about gods who have the form of birds are aliens in spaceships.
After this, Kolosimo presents the Dropa Stones hoax. He takes it directly from the German vegetarian magazine where it first appeared and sees nothing strange about that. He takes the story completely seriously.
This one is a strange one. At the same time that Robert Temple was starting his work on the Sirius Mystery (1976), claiming that the Dogon of Africa knew Sirius as a double star thanks to aliens, Kolosimo claims on the authority of French anthropologist Jean Servier that the Shilluk of Africa knew the planet Uranus and called it “three stars” because of its two moons. (It actually has 27 moons, though two large ones.) I believe he took this from Servier’s L’homme et l’invisible (1964), a strange book attempting to refute Darwinism and restore the “sacred” (read: supernatural) to human life. This claim took a little checking to figure out. Looking back at a 1912 vocabulary compiled for the Shilluk by Diedrich Westermann, it appears that the word neman adak was translated as “three stars, the Uranus.” Martin Nilsson, writing in 1920, called this a translator’s error, for which later ancient astronaut theorists would accuse him of racism (!) for believing Africans too stupid to have discovered Uranus. It does not appear in any later anthropological work on the Shilluk. Westermann did not explain his translation, and it appears to be his own interpretation. Kolosimo, quoting Servier, presents the Sirius Mystery eight years before Temple (without recognition of the flawed underlying French anthropological work of Marcel Griaule, explicitly cited by Servier), but considered it no more interesting than the Uranus claim. He says Agrest agrees that space men gave the Dogon their Sirius knowledge, and Robert Temple is therefore exposed as not just a poor scholar but also an unoriginal one who failed to acknowledge what was apparently widespread European discussion of the “Sirius mystery” before he claimed to have invented it. Servier, in quotation, also alleges that the Sumerians knew the moons of Mars, perhaps inspiring Zecharia Sitchin’s later claims for Mesopotamian astronomy.
Kolosimo then tries to make the case that ancient people had lenses and used them for telescopes. Temple would borrow this idea at a later point as well. He concludes by saying that we can’t possibly know how old Egyptian civilization really is.
This chapter opens with the Arab myth of Saurid (or Sourid or whatever) building the pyramids of Egypt before the Flood, a story told in Al-Maqrizi and others, but which Kolosimo knows only by copying verbatim from Serge Hutin. It’s weird to read the text in mangled form (a sloppy English translation of an Italian translation of a French translation of the Arabic original) from a book he calls La Murtadi but which is actually the name of the author, Murtaḍā Ibn al-ʻAfīf (Murtadi ibn Gaphiphus), whose Egyptian History (c. 1200 CE) was translated into French in 1666 and English in 1672. Murtadi’s text is roughly contemporary with that of Ibn Wasif Shah (d. 1203), whose version of the same tale Al-Maqrizi quoted around 1400.
He then discusses pyramid mysteries from Piazzi-Smyth, as interpreted by a French fringe writer, including the debunked claim that the pyramid’s meridian crosses the most land and that it exactly divides earth’s land into equal halves.
The book’s final chapter Kolosimo tells us that Horus was a real person who ran a prehistoric kingdom, and the “Eye” of Horus might have been his spaceship. Obelisks, he said the Soviets told him, were probably meant as monuments to the aliens’ intercontinental ballistic missiles. Oh, and Teotihuacan must be related to Egypt because pyramids are too pyramid-shaped to have been invented by non-white people without the help of aliens. And that’s the end.
The book sort of fizzled out at the end. The chapters got shorter, the original content declined precipitously in favor of lengthier quotations from other books, and there was no attempt at a conclusion.
Although Kolosimo repeatedly tried to distance himself from Theosophy, perhaps aware of its role in presaging the ancient astronaut theory, I find it amusing that he fell into the same trap as the Theosophists. Madame Blavatsky needed a reason to bring Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s fictitious substance of Vril into her belief system, so she developed the idea that science fiction writers were psychically accessing extraterrestrial truths. Kolosimo has done her one better and has instead decided that science fiction is simply true, or at least true enough that his readers would never know the difference.
2/26/2014 08:04:22 am
I read Kolosimo's 'Not of This World' in English soon after its publication. I was a teenager, and a university student, and I really did want there to have been alien visitations and vast lost civilizations in our history -- but even then, unlike von Daniken, I knew that the Ancient Egyptians used rope, and that ancient cultures were far more inventive and intelligent than we believed. I don't remember my reaction to Kolosimo's book. I think I still have it somewhere as I never throw any books away, but I doubt I reread it.
2/26/2014 12:35:11 pm
I'm thinking that Kolosimo did it deliberately as some kind of postmodern anti-science performance art. He was the James Franco of ancient astronaut theorists.
2/26/2014 08:37:18 am
Thank goodness, this train wreck is over! This may have been an entertaining exercise for you, Jason, but if I had to do it, I'd have found the nearest Catholic church and lobbed the book into the font, hoping to absolve it of its sins.
2/26/2014 12:36:03 pm
Well, I found it fun. It's important, too, because today's "theorists" still use his books as source material.
2/26/2014 01:44:58 pm
Imagine, then, if you could somehow prove that it was all a gag. I know ancient astronaut theorists cite known hoaxes (Dropa stones, the Grand Canyon citadel) and even works of fiction (Washington's angelic vision, Plato's Atlantis dialogues), but I don't think I've ever heard of them embracing a joke as one of the cornerstones of their hypothesis.
2/26/2014 09:19:37 am
2/26/2014 12:33:01 pm
Thanks, Tara. I appreciate the research.
Julio Cesar Assis
2/27/2014 04:07:22 am
Aladino Felix (1920-1985), aka Sabado Dinotos, Dunatos Menorá, was a pioneer ancient astronaut “theorician”, the author of Antiguidade dos Discos Voadores (Ancient Flying Saucers, 1967).
Julio Cesar Assis
4/26/2018 06:51:48 pm
In the sense of "king of the thieves", "king of the liars" and so on.
12/6/2015 01:20:38 pm
Very interesting review. But it seems to me that tries to prove the obvious, “Not of this world” is a work of fiction.
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