In response to a tweet questioning whether human beings were responsible for “the pyramids,” by which I presume the author was referring to the pyramids of Egypt, ancient astronaut proponent Giorgio Tsoukalos issued a tweet on November 13 asserting that while humans were responsible for their construction, the “ancients” said that they received help from aliens in so doing.
We’ve encountered this claim twice before on this blog, and each time the evidence was found wanting. Philip Coppens argued that aliens gave the first Egyptian pyramid architect, Imhotep, plans for Djoser’s step pyramid, but the text he cited said no such thing, instead stating 2,000 years after the fact that Imhotep had a dream in which the Nile river god promised him stones to rebuild preexisting temples.
Tsoukalos himself made a claim about the “ancients” attributing the design of the pyramid to the “Guardians of the Sky” back in 2011. His source was even less reliable than the Egyptian text Coppens cited. Tsoukalos cited an Arabic text from the fourteenth century, the Al-Khitat of Al-Maqrizi—at 4,000 years remove! I wonder if this is the same text that Tsoukalos is referring to in his latest tweet. (I do wonder if he confuses Maqrizi’s death date on the Islamic calendar—845—with his Gregorian date of 1442 and thus thinks he’s older than he is.)
When I first wrote about this in September 2011, I did not have the Al-Khitat at hand to know exactly what Al-Maqrizi said. Nevertheless, Tsoukalos should have known better since an English summary appears in Col. Vyse’s Operations, a major pseudoscientific sourcebook. I have reprinted this summary in my 2012 anthology Pyramidiots!
The key is that Al-Maqrizi says that the Arabs had many traditions about the pyramids (which he quotes at great length), but no one knows who actually built them. Since Al-Maqrizi knows nothing of the builders, whom Tsoukalos concedes were the pharaohs of old, how can we trust that he somehow preserved a perfect tradition of the aliens who assisted them? Al-Maqrizi offered more than a dozen different explanations, drawn from various authors. But none of them featured “Guardians of the Sky.” I finally found, though, the source for Tsoukalos' claim of supernatural interference in the building of the pyramids.
Among Al-Maqrizi’s discussions is the following, which Maqrizi borrows from Sa‘d el-Loghaoui. I am translating from the French edition of the Al-Khitat:
Lest there be any confusion, note: Hermes is not the Greek god but is here identified with Edris (Idris), the Islamic prophet, who is otherwise identified with Enoch, and is in any case human, not extraterrestrial. The first to identify Hermes with Idris was Bahá'u'lláh. There are no aliens here, only claims for really good astrology.
But, as it so happens, I actually found the passage Tsoukalos has been talking about, no thanks to him! Here it is, from Book 1 Chapter 10, in all its ancient astronaut glory:
Ibrahim bin Wasif Shah lived c. 1000 CE, and the quotation comes from his book A Summary of Marvels, though there is a question whether the book, which Maqrizi quotes and which still exists, was actually written by him. (I have posted more of this passage on my new Maqrizi page.)
But do note: Ad built the pyramids, but the text doesn't say the "angels" had anything to do with it. They taught science, sure, but it says nothing about helping out with the pyramids.
I think it should be fairly obvious that this is merely the story of the Watchers from the Book of Enoch filtered down through Arabian folklore. Note that the passage even uses the Hebrew form of the name Ad, "Adim." The story of the "fallen" angels, the teaching of science, and the confinement underground, are all identical to the account in Enoch. Since we already know that the Arabs associated the pyramids with Idris, who was though to be Enoch, this is a very logical connection. So, this means that some 3,500 years after the pyramids were built, some people with pre-existing Enochian mythology attributed the pyramids to that myth cycle. I fail to see the aliens at work here.
Bonus: The Ad mentioned here is the king of the Adites, whose son Shaddad built Iram of the Pillars, and whose people were punished by God for their sins, as given in the Qu'ran and Arabian Nights. These fellows were also said to be giants, sinful, etc. They're the Watchers from Enoch, which is quite plain.
Double Bonus: In his Menippus, Lucian describes an underground watery cave in the marshes near Babylon where the Babylonian mages would go to consult with the chthonic gods, so there actually is something to this witches' well!
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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