Reviewing David Childress's "Technology of the Gods" (Pt. 1): Plagiarism of the Gods
This week, I’m going to take on a challenge. I’m going to review David (née Hatcher) Childress’s most famous book, and the one that he uses as his credential for appearing on Ancient Aliens: Technology of the Gods (2000), the book in which Childress claims to present evidence for high technology in ancient times.
Before we begin, let me remind any readers who aren’t familiar with my history with Childress that the alternative author attacked me in print in 2006 for calling him an ancient astronaut theorist during the period between his book Extraterrestrial Archaeology (1999) and his stint on Ancient Aliens (2009) when Childress claimed he did not believe in aliens. As I outlined here, it is hard to keep track of his constantly-vacillating position on what exactly he does believe.
So, onward to the book.
First off, I’m not going to be going through Childress’s claims one by one; at more than 350 pages that would be impossible. Instead, I’m going to discuss the types of evidence he uses and the way he constructs his arguments.
Things don’t start well when Childress begins by trying to establish whether Egypt received its civilization from an ancient, more advanced earlier civilization. Few alternative writers support this hypothesis now (even Childress jumped on the alien bandwagon), but in the wake of Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods (1995), it was all the rage around the time Childress wrote this book. Childress’s evidence includes the long-debunked ancient astronaut standbys, the Denderah “light bulb” (actually an image of a lotus flower) and the Colombian “airplanes” (fewer than a half-dozen stylized pieces of jewelry cherry-picked from hundreds of examples to because they vaguely resembled airplanes). Worse, Childress states upfront that he plans to “recap” information he’s already delivered in innumerable other collections that in turn reported on other alternative theorists’ earlier plagiarisms and crackpot ideas. Ah, originality!
To “prove” an ancient civilization pre-dated Egypt, Childress uses John Anthony West’s 1993 NBC-TV documentary The Mystery of the Sphinx, narrated by Charlton Heston. This program prevented Robert Schoch’s re-dating of the Sphinx, which Childress only vaguely understands, relying on the TV show to tell him everything he knows about the controversy before complaining via a quote from James Joyce’s wife that scholars write stuff normal folk can’t read.
Childress sprinkles his text with phrases like “highly rated,” “popular,” “famous,” etc. to provide an argumentum ad populum that associates his ideas with the borrowed acclaim of others. He describes the destruction of ancient libraries, deems this “suppression” of ancient knowledge (by evil secularists, scientists, and “Moslems”), and speculates that the lost books contained technological secrets about plumbing.
Yes, plumbing. We next have to suffer through a length discussion of the “Bathrooms of the Gods.” I am not kidding.
Relying largely on sources from the 1940s-1960s as well as mass-market books, Childress outlines the history of irrigation and plumbing in the ancient world, studded with lengthy (and presumably not paid for) excerpts from his source books. He describes various forms of toilets and how the ancient disposed of fecal waste. He relies on the work of J. Rendel Harris, the early-twentieth-century scholar, without acknowledging Harris’ own “alternative” ideas, including his belief that all ancient myths were descended from one story of cosmic twins, remnants of a great seafaring empire of which no evidence exists. Childress then discusses the inventions of the Chinese, drawing on Robert Temple (yes, the ancient astronaut theorist) and his book The Genius of China. Within reasonable tolerance, all of this is standard historical material, free from controversy. But then we start to go off the rails when Childress quotes (and, man, does he ever quote and paraphrase endlessly) other alternative writers to wonder why the Chinese invented so much. Could it have been Atlantis or Lemuria or Mu behind it all?
Somehow leaving behind plumbing and its derivatives, Childress introduces the apocryphal “crystal skull” mystery. As skeptics well know, these skulls are of modern manufacture and are not an ancient mystery. There is no reason to discuss them more except to note that Childress include an image of a skull taken from a Mayan relief carving and identifies it as a “crystal” skull despite the complete lack of any reason to do so. It’s a skull: you know, the bony kind, like the thick one that prevents facts from entering Childress’s brain.
Childress was smart to start his book with more or less uncontroversial material. Copied from sources more or less known to the reader, it builds up a base of borrowed credibility from which Childress can launch into the crazy, beginning with the megalithic stone builders of Chapter 2.
Childress asserts that worldwide cyclopean architecture is “Atlantean” and derived from an ancient, lost civilization. Thus, everything from Mycenae to Sacsayhuaman to Easter Island is part and parcel of a single culture. It couldn’t be that fitting together rocks by banging their edges together until they stuck was easier than creating perfect right angles in the ancient past. No, that can’t be it. It has to be Atlantis.
Or maybe it was the “Osirian civilization,” a coeval Atlantis alternative attributed only to “esoteric tradition.” Well, actually, it’s a word-for-word plagiarism of his earlier Lost Cities of Atlantis, Ancient Europe & the Mediterranean (1996), plagiarizing his still earlier Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa and Arabia (1989). Pages 37 and 38 of Technology of the Gods are word-for-word plagiarism of page 27 of Lost Cities of Atlantis. Pages 39-41 of Technology of the Gods differ from pages 28-29 of Lost Cities of Atlantis only in the substitution of “technology” for “Atlantis”, and from pages 128-129 of Africa and Arabia in substituting "technology" for "lost cities and vanished civilizations" in the cut-and-paste plagiarism. Here’s an example:
Eventually, after four pages of self-plagiarism, we veer off into original (I think) material. Childress never cites his source for “Osirian” civilization, and so far as I can tell, it derives from a mistaken nineteenth century attempt to link “Osirian” and “Assyrian” on the grounds that they sort of sound alike.
Childress relays the “mysteries” of ancient stone blocks, relying on (and this must be a joke) “Sumerian scholar” Zecharia Sitchin (he was not; he was an ancient astronaut theorist), Charles Berlitz, and sundry other alternative writers who, to their credit, did more than just copy other people’s work and pass it off as their own. That doesn’t make them right, of course, just less copy-happy. Childress also relies on Theosophical literature, itself an intellectual fraud, for ascribing megalithic ruins to Atlantis and renaming Atlantis as “Poseid.” (The latter appears to be from Frederick Spenser Oliver’s psychically-channeled novel Dweller on Two Planets , a book well known to Childress and frequently cited by him, though only in the Lemurian Fellowship version.)
I could go on, but really, what’s the point? The rest of the chapter is the same as this. Childress spews out some lightly rewritten summaries of other people’s work on Carnac, or Cuzco, or Stonehenge and then relates it to his true passion, his fantasy of a pre-Ice-Age world of Lemurian, Muvian, Atlantean, Osirian, and sundry other imaginary civilizations. All of the research is secondhand, outdated, and inaccurate. Worse, he imagines every ancient civilization was coeval, derived from a fantastic original. Conventional dating, chronology, and science mean nothing compared to the esoteric revelation “channeled” from the Theosophical dwellers on other planets.
He concludes with a photo barrage of stone structures and one image, apparently a Mayan relief (though I can’t find evidence of it outside alternative books), showing an erupting volcano, that he identifies as the “destruction of Atlantis” based on no evidence whatsoever. Like there aren’t volcanoes in Mexico.
What a lazy piece of crap this book is. There’s not an original thought—and precious little original writing—in the whole of the first two chapters.
8/21/2012 04:26:38 pm
Of all the loons on Ancient Aliens, Childress has always struck me as the biggest hack of them all. I'm pleased to see I wasn't wrong. This guy is Exhibit A for the case against the self-cannibalizing culture AA has spawned. I do not envy you the job of slogging through the rest of his book.
8/26/2012 06:24:52 am
I wish I were a millionaire, or had my own TV network so I could give you your own show to be aired right after AA each week.
9/10/2012 08:04:50 pm
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9/10/2012 08:28:08 pm
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9/26/2012 08:35:46 pm
You noted a lot of copy-pasting for the alleged Osirian culture, but I think I know of an older antecedent. There's an episode of Doctor Who, "Pyramids of Mars" from 1975 (with Tom Baker) that had the Orisians as an alien culture whose battle with Set (called Sutekh) gave rise to Egyptian myths. Add this to the thesis of ancient astronauts get their ideas from fiction and fantasy!
9/27/2012 01:11:41 pm
That would be a great connection, except that Childress cribbed the Osirian culture from the Lemurian Fellowship, which has been in business since 1936. I don't know the exact date they first proposed the "Osirians," but I'm pretty sure it was independent of Doctor Who.
12/2/2015 06:34:24 am
You always write fabulous. This is frist time I am reading any of your blog and again finding it inspirational one. And I am sure this number is going to be increased
8/3/2013 02:01:38 am
hi, I saw Mr.childress tv show ancient aliens.some logics of this guys are very nice but I think they are also impose to believe us that what they says is only the right thing.as a persons of science it is not acceptable for me.sorry for that but I cant even sit and believe what you all says. like they find landing spots every where. please try to come out and look at our history with out any prejudice ,I m sure you will get much more from it. like the making of gold.I know and the process of making gold is not hidden it is open in front of our eyes but we don't know the decode system,I m trying for that.
11/12/2013 07:21:24 pm
I cannot believe there are so many millions of simpletons that believe this loon and the other clown georgio tsoukoloonie
2/3/2014 10:42:16 pm
bro, I hear you... many people rip on cats like childress and harramein for being kooks... but yo, out of curiosity, who or what do you think built these ancient megalithic structures? I mean, hey, I get that you have an axe to grind and that but do you yourself offer any idea's about the nazca lines, the sphinx, easter isnald heads (and bodies), crop circles, the flower of life under the foo dogs paw outside the forbidden city AND etched into ancient structures all over the world, the sun gate, the GIANT stones at the temple of jupiter, the way the ancient south american temple city mirrors certain planets in their alignments, why there are no heiroglyphs depicting HOW or WHY the pyramids were even built in the first place, why so many ancient sites line up in a straight line (albeit a non euclidian straight line being that our planet is a globe) and what are your thoughts on the way nassim harramein "solved" or at least developed the 8 trees of life into a 64 tetrahedron grid and showed it's diect correlation with the i-ching and it's broken and unbroken sticks being the exact parts of a star tetrahedron themselves. what about the electric universe theory? I ask not to annoy you or whatever, I'm just intrigued if you do more than just cut others down...maybe they deserve it maybe they don't.. either way, what do you offer on these subjects beyond the cutting down of the people who make claims to have an understanding of them? I personally believe nothing for conviction is as dangerous an enemy to truth as a lie (neitzche said that- I just agree). for there are definitely some serious mysteries out there and although the people who involve themselves with them are often total weirdo's...who often do themseves diservice by exagerrating their credentials (harramein) or by not offering up a definitive posture on their respective subject matter (childress) I can't help but wonder what your input is beyond shooting fish in a barrel. sincerely yours, ben jackson. (apologies for spelling or syntax errors)
2/4/2014 12:39:33 am
What exactly do fringe historians offer? They offer no solutions, only rhetorical questions that they reverse at will. "Is it possible that (aliens, Atlanteans, trans-dimension ghosts, giants, etc.) built these sites?" This is not the same as the real work archaeologists do to excavate and understand. Don't confuse rhetoric for evidence.
2/4/2014 06:58:09 am
riiiiight, so you don't seem to have anything going for you beyond being a critic of other people... I get it, the whole 'picking apart stuff'...and when dealing with ;fringe dwellers' that's an easy task.....but again, do you have ANYthing to offer? you seem like a smart guy, what about the stuff I mentioned in my first post? what are your thoughts on the ancient megalithic sites and associated phenomenon? BESIDES that Childress is a fraud or this guy is a quack etc etc etc... I'm intrigued that you've got a blog and expend energy on it but it hasn't got any content...I mean, being a quack or kook is one thing, but basing your efforts ON them, that seems like an easy out, for someone with nothing to actually contribute. do you have anything positive to contribute or is the deconstruction of fringe dwellers all you do? again, I sincerely am not trying to work you up, I'm not trolling... I'm just extremely interested in ancient megalithic sites and am genuinely curious about other people's thoughts and idea's.....what are yours? cheers :) ben (again apologies for spelling and/or syntax errors)
2/4/2014 08:01:53 am
I have a whole range of books and articles, which you can find in the tabs above. My newest book is a detailed study of Greek mythology, due out this summer.
2/4/2014 08:32:40 am
way to avoid the question ;) I've studied ancient greeks myself, in highschool and university, read neitzche's works on the tragedies and feel it's all a bit 'done to death'.. now, about my questions? what are your thoughts, aside from on the failings of other people. eg the building of the walls in cuzco...
2/4/2014 08:47:11 am
Are you referring to Saksaywaman? Diego de Trujillo visited the Inca workshops and saw the ropes used to haul the stones, and Cieza de Leon heard firsthand testimony from the Inca about how their parents and grandparents had transported and built the walls and similar structures. The site was probably built around 1400 CE. Don't underestimate the ingenuity and power of a group of people working together.
2/4/2014 09:06:11 am
so your opinion is "don't underestimate the power of a group of people"? as in, cutting hundred tonne blocks, hauling them out of a quarry, up a mountain side, down again and back up another, building incredibly intricate walls and buildings with them....performing feats we would have great difficulty achieving today, yet they pulled it off with ropes and stuff because they were in a group? and they built temples that mirrored the exact positions of some of the planets in our solar system, INCLUDING one that wasn't even discovered by western europeans in all their technical glory yet? because.... they were an ingenious group? really? that's your opinion on these incredible mystery's? wow what about the fact that there is not a single heiroglyph depicting the building of the great pyramids nor anything displaying a reason for doing it? I get you're a smart guy, who has written books and being a skeptic is your trade.... but HONESTLY, you seem like a shill. how can you expect me to think otherwise when you offer zero, merely deconstruct other's opinions and then tell me tat "the ingenuity of a group" was behind these ancient megalithic structures? I mean, even just saying "I have NO IDEA how or why these things were constructed" would at least make you seem honest.... but you really are coming across in a pretty negative light to me. good luck selling your skepticism though, we all gotta make a living I guess, I hope that maybe eventually you'll offer me, and everyone else, an actual idea of your own regarding the hows and whys of these places and structures were built being that you seem so hell bent on deconstructing the opinions of others. I hope I haven't come across as a troll or anything, I am not out to get a rise, I'm just a regular guy with an interest in these amazing places and structures. cheers! ben
2/4/2014 09:09:32 am
Which site do you feel was laid out like planets? Are you referring to Teotihuacan? I have explored that claim and debunked it. It rests on selecting just nine out of dozens of pyramids, and even then it fails to be mathematically precise.
2/4/2014 09:47:40 am
Teotihuacán so if it's failure to be mathematically precise is your 'debunking' of the claim that there is any celestial correlation at all, can you offer anything further? for example, The Great Pyramid in Giza is located in the centre of the land mass of the earth, at both longest longitude and longest latitude. It is orientated at almost exact north, south, east and west, only removed a mere three minutes from true north... mathematically perfect enough for you to at least entertain the possibility that there's "more going on" than a group of ingenious people?
2/4/2014 09:51:12 am
I'm not going to detail all my research in these comments. Here's the link to the Teotihuacan article: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2012/03/the-teotihuacan-solar-system-revisited.html
2/4/2014 10:17:42 am
right, ok cool. I guess all the ancient megalithic structures across the globe are just man made? last question before I leave you in peace, can you offer any explanation a to the symmetry of the face of the statue of Ramses II? I see it's carved of granite - in the bronze age... which makes me wonder how anyone carved granite with bronze... let alone with the perfect symmetry demonstrated. what do you think of this? NOT what do you think is wrong with whomever's explanation... appreciation and thanks in advance. ben heres a link to the question - please note, I just grabbed the first page that I saw, apologies that its from a stupid webpage! http://www.thedailysaucer.com/ancient-aliens-s3e6-ancient-engineers/
2/4/2014 10:24:07 am
I'm not sure I see the problem. Mt. Rushmore is also made of granite, and much of the work done on it was done by hand. Michelangelo carved David from marble without the help of a computer. What makes you think that ancient people could not carve statues evenly? They did the same thing modern sculptors do: draw guidelines on the rock and use them to guide the carving.
2/4/2014 10:34:14 am
could you at least try to answer? it's perfectly symmetrical... nothing like david or mt rushmore and waaaaay older. you really think they just drew guidelines on and carved away at it? I have to say that's a weak explanation. I mean hey, I'M not saying aliens did it etc etc nor am I claiming that anyone elses opinions are junk... I'm just curious as to what you think. take a closer look into it, there's some great pictures on this page.. :) incredible precision (and I mean that literaly - incredible)
2/4/2014 10:45:56 am
I'm sorry, but I don't see what you are seeing. Perfect symmetry is key to the Egyptian aesthetic, and their artists worked very hard to create perfect symmetry in nearly all statues of kings, not just that one. Multiple Egyptian statues feature the same level of symmetry. Just as artists produce it today, they did back then through careful and repeated measurement at each stage of carving.
2/4/2014 12:11:50 pm
100% PERECT symmetry, with bronze tools, carving granite with the golden ratio embedded throughout - I'm sorry did you even look at that link I sent? man, HONESTLY if you think it's all just people being ingenious and carefully measuring, you're nuts. there are so many engineers measuring these works who are totally baffled at the absolute, repeat absolute, symmetry.. and perfection of the end result, not including the encoded information like phi and the golden ratio... if "its all just normal, everyday stuff" can you explain how nothing like this has been done since without digital input, computer engineering and how is that even with the largest crane on the face of the earth, it's still not capable of moving some of the megalithic blocks like at the temple of jupiter? actually, no..don't worry... I think I have received everything you have to offer on the subjects.. and look, thanks for the dialogue and that but let me be honest ok? like, totally honest... I think you're either living in a very small headspace or you're trying to keep people from looking closer at these accomplishments. why would you do either? anyway man, take care, happy travels and that. and may one day you let a little of the mysterious unknown enter your world, I'm sure it would be nicer to live with the fact that 'we don't know everything' than to live under false assumptions of certainty. peace on ben
2/4/2014 12:19:31 pm
Who's stopping you from looking closer? The question is whether you are willing to look at the scholarly and academic literature on this material or only fringe claims. Archaeologists have studied many of these problems in detail, though the answers are to be found in scholarly journals, many of which are not readily available outside of research libraries.
2/4/2014 12:26:02 pm
no one is topping anyone, I'm just saying you're coming across like a shill... discouraging and skeptical. that's all. and that anyone who follows your blog would be under the impression that you know who built these things and why... when in my opinion, the jury is out. remember! conviction is as dangerous an enemy to truth, as a lie. I certainly don't claim to know the truth, I just seek it - and you seem to be more interested in deconstructing. which I believe to be a negative approach, with negative and as I said, discouraging undertones. but if you're happy, I'm happy. I bear you no ill will, I just feel a sympathy for you and anyone else carrying the yoke of belief. that's al I have to say so whatever your reply is - and I'm sure it'll be clever and dismissive, I wont be re-engaging, enjoy the last word nonetheless. peace
2/4/2014 12:36:25 pm
Claims about "negativity" are part of the feel-good ethos of modern society, where feelings are supposed to count for more than facts.
1/5/2015 07:38:52 pm
within the past several years the largest single stone weighing approximately 340 tons, making it the heaviest weight to be moved in modern history was moved from a quarry in Riverside, CA to a museum in Los Angeles, The move required the two largest cranes on earth to lift the stone, it was placed on a trailer 295 feet long (the length of two football fields), the had over 40 axles, more than 150 tires, , one heavy duty diesel truck pulling and two diesel trucks pushing, at a maximum speed of 8 MPH and took over 11 days to complete the move. Some of the single megalithic stone works used around the world weighed in excess of 1000 tons. Much of the stone work used weighed several hundred tons. So....a large group, of individuals got together, with ropes, some wooden rollers (where did the trees come from in areas that the structures were erected at sites where no trees existed). chiseled out these enormous stone works, fit them with such precision that a credit card can't be fitted into the joints, and no mortar was necessary, with stone age tools (?) Yeah! Right! There's over a million blocks in the great pyramid, but placed there using ropes and slave labor. I am not a proponent of little green men from space using ray guns to do the work, but who or what built these enormously fantastic structures possessed a level of knowledge and skill far beyond what we are capable of at the present. And the academic and scientific communities have an agenda, and that's predicated on gaining and maintaining grants and funds to continue their lifestyles, salaries, and tenure. Archaeology is one of the most corrupted fields, dominated by status quo.
1/11/2016 05:58:17 am
Jason why work so hard when a SINGLE link, speaks louder than all your words?
1/5/2018 05:00:13 am
It's seriously disheartening to see these replies in favor of this AA BS. Why can't people believe that primitive cultures could move stones and build all these structures with enough time, manpower and the tools and intelligence they had, they believe "humans dumb, aliens and/or gods are smart and help humans make things."
1/27/2018 03:58:09 am
Our ancestors were not idiots.Anyone can use measurement to achieve symmetry in Art. Before I posted this..I drew a face...and using the measurement of inches drew a perfectly symmetrical drawing...same on both sides when folded over.
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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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