Because I’m busy today, I prepared a blog post ahead of time. I’m going to review another episode of Destination America’s Unsealed: Alien Files, this time on “Aliens and Civilizations.” I can hardly wait to see what this stock footage spectacular has to say about ancient buildings!
(Once again, full disclosure: Destination America once interviewed me for a position hosting an America Unearthed-style program, but after determining that I wasn’t willing to claim aliens were responsible for Native American artifacts and constructions, the project was discontinued for being too similar to America Unearthed.)
Well, we’re off to a great start when the narrator tells us that Sumer and Egypt emerged “as if from nowhere to build massive pyramids and temples,” apparently ignorant of the prehistory of those two lands, not to mention older structures like Göbekli Tepe. John Greenewald, Jr., of TheBlackVault.com, is back to offer sub-Childress levels of banal commentary about subjects he plainly doesn’t understand, merely parroting what he either got from Ancient Aliens or the producers told him to say.
After the credits, we open in Tehran with a UFO sighting, which has nothing to do with the stated topic of the documentary—ancient buildings. The show asserts that Iran is “part of ancient Mesopotamia, referred to as the cradle of civilization,” to which: no. Mesopotamia is the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates in Iraq. Iraq and Iran are not the same country, and Iran would be outraged to know anyone wanted to deny the unique achievements of ancient Persia by claiming them to be part of Babylon. (The Persians eventually conquered Babylon, and in time the Islamic caliphs of Baghdad would invade Persia, but the lands were always administratively and culturally separate.)
We look at a mixture of Mesopotamian art from many periods, all of which the show calls Sumerian, and the narrator tells us that images of winged gods and flying chariots indicate extraterrestrial beings. To flash back to 4000 BCE, the show uses hilarious stock footage from what seems to be the 1920s or 1930s of a hunched-over “caveman.” Dear Lord, this show is cheap. I don’t think a single frame of newly-shot location footage appears in the show.
The program makes a big deal of Sumerian cylinder seal VA 243 in Berlin, which is one of Zecharia Sitchin’s most notorious pieces of evidence from his 1976 book Twelfth Planet. Sitchin in name-checked in claiming that the seal gives an accurate map of the solar system, as is Nibiru, his imaginary “twelfth” planet (along with our modern eight, the dwarf planet Pluto, the sun, and the moon). The inscriptions say no such thing, and Michael Heiser explained why in great detail. Just for starters, the alleged symbol for the sun in the “map” is actually a well-known symbol for a (non-solar) star. This of course leads us directly to the giant Anunnaki coming to mine our gold, whom former UFO Hunters host Bill Birnes tells us by webcam (because: cheap) can be seen in art around the world. This is a neat trick given that the Anunnaki aren’t even clearly depicted in Sumerian art, let alone cultures that have never heard of them. Birnes and the show give us a picture of Utu (Shamash), the sun god, who is not among the Anunnaki, and tell us that he is one of them and wearing a space suit with “rays” coming out of it. He is the sun. Those are solar rays. It’s kind of a thing with sun gods. His “space suit” is a cloth skirt.
The show uses Carl Sagan’s 1960s-era speculation about ancient astronauts to lend credence to its ideas (Sagan was briefly taken by the idea and called for investigation before rejecting it for lack of evidence). Then the show follows the old saw about the aliens genetically engineering humans, based on the Enuma Elish, which they mistakenly call Sumerian instead of Babylonian. Since they know nothing Sitchin didn’t tell them, they can’t tell the difference.
After the commercial, the show tries to tell us that the Great Pyramid is an alien achievement, which is more than Ancient Aliens has been willing to do recently. Tom Durant, described as a “paranormal consultant” (do ghosts pay?), claims that the Great Pyramid is the most precise and best-aligned building on earth, which is hardly true. I’d wager there is many a house whose sides are aligned perfectly to the cardinal directions. With more than three billion or so houses worldwide, at least one must be, just by chance. The show’s narrator says the Great Pyramid has “unique geometry,” to which: what? Four-sided pyramids with equilateral faces all have the same geometry. There’s one right next door, the pyramid of Khafre. The show must know that since they mistakenly use pictures of Khafre’s pyramid when Khufu’s is meant.
Now we discuss Robert Bauval’s Orion Correlation with only a photograph of Robert Bauval and a single-sentence excerpt from The Orion Mystery. The passive voice is used to suggest that some unnamed person or persons allege that the Anunnaki planned this correlation, or that it was designed to signal the Anunnaki. Naturally, the show says, since Stonehenge was built around the same time as the Giza pyramids, it too must be part of the conspiracy. They then try to bring in Teotihuacan in Mexico and of course do a bang up job of illustrating it with pictures of both Mayan and Aztec pyramids, none of which is at Teotihuacan. Really, the reliance on random stock footage is just embarrassing. Unnamed but vaguely threatening “experts” on angry aliens are illustrated with b-roll of businesspeople in a conference room rustling papers; “scientists” are illustrated with a 1980s or ’90s video of some guy at a boxy beige computer. The pyramids are illustrated with stock footage of temples. It’s all so sloppy and so cheap.
Anyway, the show says that modern reports of UFO tractor beams suggest that aliens used anti-gravity technology to lift the blocks for the pyramids. That’s a claim I haven’t heard in a while.
After another break, the show again confuses Khafre’s pyramid for Khufu’s and talks about how the Great Pyramid was a sound wave generator creating an electro-magnetic beam to amplify the earth’s magnetic field, in order to protect the earth from solar flares and pole shifts. What exactly is the harm of a pole shift (presumably the magnetic kind, not the earth-crust-displacement kind)? Who knows—it just sounds cool. “Did aliens control the earth’s magnetic field with a pyramid machine?” the narrator asks. Even David Childress doesn’t usually say anything quite that bizarre—and he thinks obelisks send piezoelectric energy beams to alien satellites.
Now we’re on to the Sphinx and Robert Schoch’s idea of water erosion, cited to “a recent NBC News online article.” Greenewald pops up to offer criticism that “history books” are lying to us to hide alien truths. That the Sphinx had water erosion (though most scholars who are not Robert Schoch agree it didn’t) leads us to Noah’s Flood, which the show attributes to the Anunnaki, in an attempt to wipe out a failed pre-human experiment. I guess this is drawing on the Popol Vuh story of the drowning of the wooden race, but they never say. Instead, the show claims that “Sumerian myths” (read: Zecharia Sitchin) proclaim that the Anunnaki return every 3,600 years. Lies! The Anunnaki can’t return because they never left; in Mesopotamian belief, they were gods in the earth and in the sky and were always here, coming up from below and down from the sky when called.
The show leads into the last break by telling us that “many” believe that the Anunnaki are about to return. The narrator wants to know if the Anunnaki will be pleased with us, or if they will judge us for sinning against the earth. The show blames “overpopulation” and “rapid consumption of natural resources” for earning the aliens’ displeasure and suggests that the 1976 UFO sighting in Tehran indicates the return of the Anunnaki. Why? I guess because Twelfth Planet was published that year. And they still don’t realize that Tehran isn’t in Mesopotamia as the narrator tells us that the aliens “returned” to their first earthly homeland.
“If the Egyptians didn’t build the Sphinx, it would have had to have been an older, more sophisticated culture with superior technological abilities,” says the narrator, illogically. Says who? Göbekli Tepe was built by hunter-gatherers without any advanced technology.
This show is even more irresponsible than Ancient Aliens, deemphasizing the “what-if” constructions (by literally saying that part faster and quieter), attributing evidence-free claims to unnamed but threatening “experts” on alien wrath, and implying that apocalyptic doom will occur in our lifetime. Ancient Aliens is stupid and kind of goofy, but this show is downright nasty and more than a little foul. It is designed to recall In Search of… and Sightings, and other similar shows, but even at their deceptive, misinforming worst those programs at least tried for awe and wonder, while this show aims at anger and fear. It’s all summed up in the come-on at the last commercial, begging viewers to sign up for various services the show provides so they can “demand” the truth by banding together to protest the government and express their militant outrage.
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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