Did you see the preview for Ancient Aliens that’s running on H2 this week? In the brief promotional clip (apparently filmed specifically for promotional purposes), Giorgio Tsoukalos shows a picture of a jet pilot in a flight suit with an oxygen hose dangling from his mask and asks: “What if our ancestors encountered something like this and misinterpreted it as an elephant’s trunk?” He compares the flight suit to statues of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.
Think about the leaps of logic required here. First, we must assume that the aliens wore flight suits with air hoses. How does this square with Tsoukalos’ other claims that images of bulbous-headed or helmeted deities represented alien space helmets—with no hoses? How does any of this square with Tsoukalos’ and his mentor Erich von Däniken’s assertion that the aliens had sex with human women? Why did the aliens need space suits and oxygen masks for walking about in ancient India but apparently were able to have hot and heavy interspecies sex without any complication from atmospheric pressure. Would you expose your penis to an atmosphere so dangerous you needed helmets and oxygen masks?
Second, we must also assume that the Indians, who lived in a land filled with elephants, somehow could not tell the difference between an elephant’s trunk and a hose, this despite the fact that tubes of various sorts were well-known, if from no other source than from the entrails of animals. Additionally, they somehow were unable to see the difference between a helmet and an elephant’s head, seeing large ears and tusks (!) where there apparently were none.
The god Ganesha first appears in Hindu iconography in the fourth century CE. The earliest most scholars place Ganesha would be the second century CE, when the first elephant-headed yakṣa (minor nature spirit), not yet a god, is seen, though (as we shall see), there is some evidence for an earlier form. The elephant-headed goddess Vinayaki was known from perhaps as early as the first century BCE, and a possibly unrelated elephant-headed god can be seen in iconography of the second century BCE. There is no evidence of elephant-headed iconography prior to this time; therefore, if the Indians created the god after viewing the aliens, the “aliens” must have been here no later than 200 BCE.
This was after the Classical Age of Greece, after the time of Alexander the Great, and a period well documented in the records of Greece and China; it was also a period in which Greeks had trade relationships with and actually visited India. Certainly the “aliens” hadn’t been there in c. 400 BCE when Ctesias of Cnidus visited Persia and recorded their information about India, which lacked any mention of aliens. Certainly they hadn’t been there in 300 BCE when Megasthenes visited India in person and wrote an account of the people and their gods with no mention of extraterrestrials and their oxygen masks. So, that means the "aliens" had to arrive between 300 BCE and 200 BCE.
None of the Greeks or the Romans who visited India (or those who lived there) thought to make any mention of mysterious space travelers with hoses for noses wandering about the countryside.
Nor would they. The elephant-headed god very clearly derives from earlier, fully-elephantine iconography that dates back to the time of the Indus Valley civilization. The elephant had long been sacred to the Vedic and Hindu faiths, and it is no leap of logic to see the sacred animal have his head placed upon a god’s—especially a nature-spirit’s—body. This can clearly be seen at Kapisa (formerly the Greco-Indian Alexandria), where a fully-elephant god was worshiped as the presiding spirit of the mountain. On a coin made just after the “aliens” came, around 170 BCE, for the Indo-Greek king Eukratides Zeus (the god of mountains) is seen seated on a throne, from which peaks the head of an elephant. Other Indo-Greek rulers also used the head of an elephant as a synecdoche for the entire elephant god, sometimes depicting just the elephant’s head as the entire god, as on the coin of Demetrius. From there, under Greek influence, anthropomorphic Greek deity of the mountain and indigenous animal god of the mountain merged, forming an elephant-headed god. This is proved by a very late Indo-Greek coin showing a man with an elephant’s head, possibly the first Ganesha, or if not certainly some other god with the same form. (See M. K. Dhavalikar’s “Antiquity of Ganesha: The Numismatic Evidence” and “Ganesha: Myth and Reality” in Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God.)
So, in a very tangential sense, Tsoukalos is right: “Aliens” inspired the elephant-headed god Ganesh. But these weren’t space aliens. They were foreigners to India, the Greeks coming with and after Alexander, whose artistic conventions led them to depict India’s elephant god as a person with an elephant’s head.
12/18/2012 12:45:28 pm
This is off topic. I put my Mayan apocalypse post up early because I was afraid you'd pick the same topic. This is the influence you have.
12/18/2012 12:49:37 pm
Now if only my influence extended to the people who write pseudo-history!
12/18/2012 01:46:10 pm
I'm sure you've had an impact on their persecution complexes, which is a vital part of their self-images.
12/19/2012 12:51:52 pm
I love that you touch upon the point: "Would you expose your penis to an atmosphere so dangerous you needed helmets and oxygen masks? "
1/10/2013 08:01:54 pm
Funny story... my dad is an aviation medicine specialist, who was worked in the Tactical Air Command hospital in the early '80s. One of his standard party pieces is to tell the one about the F-16 pilot who, at altitude, and in full G-suit and helmet (including oxygen hose) jerked off and detached both his retinas due to interesting pressure differentials at the conclusion of the act.
12/19/2012 01:00:12 pm
A friend actually just mentioned that very preview yesterday when he asked me to expound on my dislike of the show, its talking heads, and the terrible things they do to history. I hadn't seen the preview or been aware of the claim, but now I am and have sent him the link.
12/20/2012 03:53:42 pm
Its a great article and the richness of ancient Hindu culture and science . Thought many westerners never buy it due to their narrow one Dimensional outlook. They will rather accept Jesus as son of a father less mom than to agree with fantastic proof of great Indian civilizations. Pathetic souls indeed.
8/8/2013 07:58:46 pm
Lord Ganesh got no connection with alien stories and I know Hindu mythology well. Ganesh born as a normal child and his head lost in an accident and then it was replaced by an elephant head. Thank you and good luck.
1/13/2017 09:57:22 am
Cause this makes way more sens....oh wait no it doesnt
8/2/2018 04:43:09 pm
It is a few absolutely diferent versions (myths) about that "accident". So their origin (of myths) is only rumours, result of tittle-tattle. It is not a proof of replacement.
Richard "Dick" Neimeyer
11/28/2013 10:55:33 am
"...artistic conventions led them to depict India’s elephant god as a person with an elephant’s head."
1/13/2014 10:57:38 am
Ohh you need to use your imagination, maybe not be aliens, maybe is just time travellers, you need to put a mask, because dont exist roads to use a deloarean, so you flight a time machine in high altittude, whrn you land your plane like a Harrier in V-tol, they think you look like some god with funny head, you tell to your son that look like a elephant, he tells to your grandson the same.. And 2000 year late we have a statue of a elephants dancing..
8/2/2018 04:46:29 pm
Exactly. About the telling story to others, and others...
4/5/2014 03:27:24 am
Difficult for you to accept that an alien wouldn't wear an oxygen mask etc. Less difficult to accept that a human had an elephants head.
4/12/2014 10:20:25 pm
any comments of ancient aliens always indicate they set up base high in mountains, it is reasonable to assume their own planets atmosphere was much more rarified than our own, and they were more comfortable in the thin mountian air. so to go along with these theories, it would also be reasonable to wear a life support system, at least until they acclimatised. our ancestors conceil many mysteries we are unable to comprehend, alien intervention is only a theory, but the programs reveal incredible facts about our past, and pose more questions than answers. i find this facinating. jus
4/13/2014 01:59:22 pm
Well I'm an alian and I havn't got an elephant trunk but I do use a vacuum cleaner hose to scae my kids....am I anIndian god?
4/13/2014 02:04:45 pm
You pobably are an Indian god...do yuo eat much curry?
4/13/2014 02:07:27 pm
I only eat curry on Thursdays down the pub
4/13/2014 02:10:50 pm
With a spoon?
4/13/2014 02:12:27 pm
Yes.....I don't like the Kings Head
4/22/2015 07:05:54 pm
Well, clearly shows, the people with half knowledge commenting. I really liked the show, and keeps me thinking on so many things, if Alien's have visited, and smart Indians, who could write and leave history from thousands of years past, don't you think, they could make out the difference of god and alien. Bottom line, even Alien should have a creator and it could be same Ganesh...
5/16/2015 04:51:27 pm
Your point is good but the earliest records of ancient gods of hinduism mention that they existed in the past. And it was a course of time approximately 2000 years long. Accounys of various godly features are recorded. For example Ganesha vehicle the mouse. it is rarely depicted as a flying mouse. Also you have to remember that a glass frame globe of space helmet cannot be carved on stone. You cannot show a glass helmet stone carving but its frame that protects head can be carved, hence the crown and circle of light project from behind of the head. Simply it is a different world that stayed here for 2000 years and various types of gods are shown. Various account of genetics are also recorded. Simple we cannot say something cant becuz we cant. Ganesha might have needed the mask for a completely different purpose. Who knows all the gods wore masks, Some of human s some of animals. All that detail cannoy be carved on stone and the story goes back to 2000 bc, not after alexander's time. It was all written late as the complete vacabulary was necer available.
5/16/2015 05:00:39 pm
And the old sages knew that they are not from our world but we accepted them. We clearly said they were blueish and features changed in course of time. It is clearly said that they came from the sky amd from a planet called indralok that has a population of 330 million. The all noble lord Ram after defeating Ravana decided to take the aircraft home. The one who left all his kingdom on one word from mother was in love with a vehicle. Wierd! Back in time there was not light at night and lord rama surely would require co.ordinations and location info. Again wierd, Rama's empire on that day was lit up with hundreds of lamps and he had no trouble finding ayodhya in the dark night. And wierd how so less was described about the vimana after rama's return to his kingdom
5/16/2015 05:12:05 pm
Plus it wasnt about having sex. Its called creation. and 2000 years ago they did not have words for genetics, test tube babies, and babies from sex. Anything born or created was considered tobe Bramha's department. Several accounts of babies born in bowls and created from pieces of flesh is also recorded.
9/19/2015 10:25:15 pm
Interesting way of looking at things..probably it is possible. congrats jason.i hv read all visitors from other planets are called demigods..../i recommend all visitors of this page and who have interest in ufos ,aliens ,old epics and archaeology to read the book ""Chariots of the Gods"" by by Erich Von Danike..
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.