First, I have a bit of housekeeping to note: Alex Jones, whose lawyer recently alleged that he was a performance artist, took the stand in his child custody case to dispute his own lawyer’s argument, claiming in sworn testimony that he is not playing a character and that he believes the wild claims he makes. The jury also heard testimony that Jones had been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.
Second, at the Women in Classics conference, Helen Lovatt of the University of Nottingham gave a presentation outlining her plans for a monograph tracing the history of the myth of Jason and the Argonauts and evaluating its development from ancient to modern times. Sounds familiar. Lovatt was supposed to publish her book on the subject, In Search of the Argonauts, back in 2015 with I. B. Tauris, but the volume never came to fruition.
Now on to today’s topic.
OK, so this was a bit of an unexpected coincidence. A couple of days ago I looked into the shorthand claim that “aliens built the pyramids,” and now Bear & Co. is planning to release a new book about why aliens built the pyramids! The new book is called Ancient Alien Ancestors and it is written by Will Hart, a longtime ufologist and ancient astronaut writer. The book is due out in July, but galley proofs are available for reviewers. I took a look, and I’m afraid to say that I can’t possibly gin up enough interest to formally review the book. In short, despite its title, only the first portion of the book is about ancient astronauts; the remainder covers the usual stations of the cross for ufology: Roswell, modern UFO sightings, Travis Walton, alien abductions, directed panspermia, Rh-negative blood, and genetic engineering. There is virtually nothing new in the book, much that is very old, and a generally myopic self-congratulatory attitude whereby the author thinks he has presented something unique.
Anyway, today I am interested in his claims about the Great Pyramid, so we’ll take a look at what he has to say about Egypt’s most famous structure. “I have repeatedly invited hard scientists to apply their knowledge, technologies, and skills to make a thorough investigation of the Great Pyramid,” he writes. He complains that scientists refuse to take him up on the offer, and he offers this challenge: “Since you dismiss the histories handed down by our ancestors as being nothing more than mere myths (apparently spun by ignorant, childish minds) that have no intrinsic value or relevancy to scientific investigations, then why do you, contrarily, insist that they were intelligent enough to engineer plant genetics, build the Great Pyramid, and invent the sexagesimal numeric system that is still the basis of timekeeping?” (emphasis in original). It takes no genius to see that there is little to his allegation beyond a misunderstanding of basic artificial selection and basic math, and ultimately relies on his belief that the Great Pyramid is impossible for modern people to replicate.
Would it surprise you to know that Hart’s “evidence” for the pyramid is the same set of evidence that John Taylor outlined in 1859 and Charles Piazzi Smyth popularized in 1864? Hart starts with a variation on Smyth’s claim that the Great Pyramid stands at the center of Earth’s land masses, this time revised to say that the pyramid marks the natural starting point for marking longitude, an exquisitely subjective claim if ever there were one. Natural in what way? This presumes one values land over sea, and north-south orientations over east-west orientations. Hart claims that the “natural” longitude begins at Lake Victoria (or the mouth of the Nile) because the Mississippi’s mouth is 90° west and the mouth of the Yangtze is 120° east. But such geographical points are again arbitrary. Why not the Amazon and the Indus? Nor are those geographic features fixed; they move with erosion, sea levels, and other factors. For Hart, though, this is a non-starter; he believes geography is fixed in place and that space aliens terraformed the Earth, planning rivers to reach particular lines of latitude (especially 30° N and the equator) yet somehow neglecting to organize them in a way that would allow for easy shipping from one alien urban center to the next.
Hart also refuses to accept the standard sequence of Egyptian pyramids, denying that there is any evidence of evolution in pyramid building. Thus, he does not accept the progression from mastabas to step pyramids to the failed bent pyramid and eventual true pyramids. Instead, he holds that the Great Pyramid emerged out of nothing, with no antecedents at all. His conclusion is as illogical as the rest of his argument: “… ancient Egyptians simply lacked the architectural knowledge, engineering skills, and technology required for the pyramid’s construction. This nullifies the orthodox thesis. Ergo, an advanced extraterrestrial race built the Giza complex.” Even if we accepted Hart’s assertions about the “advanced” engineering of the pyramid—and here he severely underestimates what impossibly large numbers of motivated workers can accomplish—it does not follow that extraterrestrials are the alternative. What about Atlantis? Time travelers? Dinosaurs?!?
Following this, Hart devotes a chapter to the familiar argument, of Victorian origin, that the Pyramid is “precision-engineered” to a tolerance that modern civilization would struggle replicate. His arguments are familiar to anyone who has read a fringe book in the last century or two, but they lean heavily on recent efforts to replicate Egyptian techniques. Because modern experimental archaeologists have not been able to move or raise similarly large blocks as easily with the small crews available to them, Hart concludes that the Egyptians, even with their virtually unlimited manpower, would also have been unable to do so. He enters into evidence the fringe claims about the supposed Ice Age date for the Sphinx and adds to it the allegation that the Pyramid itself is of the same vintage. He states that Egyptologists are in a “war” to defend the idea that the Pyramid was a tomb, with the strong implication that they want to avoid admitting evidence of aliens.
Afterward, he argues that Egypt was not even a civilization. He claims that the country lacked any major cities, and that all of its technological prowess was borrowed from higher civilizations in the Near East. Therefore, they could not have built the pyramids. I suppose it goes without saying that ancient Egypt did in fact have cities and that places like Memphis flourished in the Old Kingdom.
Hart introduces a new claim that is at least somewhat different than traditional ones. While Robert Bauval made the pyramids into stars and Victorian writers had already suggested that they represented the orbits of planets, Hart decides that the three Giza pyramids represent Mercury, Venus, and Earth in their relative sizes. To accomplish this, he relates the area of each pyramid to the mass of each planet, and the length of each pyramid’s side to the diameter of each planet. These measurements don’t seem to have a natural correlation—why, for example, would we not use the diagonal of the pyramid rather than its side?—but even doing so, Hart can only come up with approximate figures that he then fudges. For example, he claims that the ratio of the sides of the Khufu and Khafre pyramids is identical to the ration of Earth’s and Venus’s diameters. But the numbers are wrong. He gives the pyramid side length (in feet) as 755 and 706, and the diameters (in kilometers) as 12,752 and 12,100. He claims the smaller in both cases is 95% of the larger. But in the case of the pyramids, the smaller is 93.5% of the larger, while Venus’s diameter is 94.8% of the Earth’s diameter. In his comparison to Mercury, he didn’t even bother to fudge the numbers. He simply admits they are not even close, but says “there is no question of the overall effect.” Imagination can do that to you. Perfect correlations are “evidence,” but so, too, are ones that aren’t even close—then they are merely symbolic!
He concludes by writing that pyramids sit in an “Earth vortex” just like Coral Castle in Florida, and he repeats incorrect claims that no one can explain how Coral Castle was built. (Hint: It involved elbow grease, simple machines, and physics.) Hart’s sources are, of course, other fringe books, and there is little he adds to their earlier claims except a great deal of undisguised anger at various elites, all of whom seem to have offended him in ways that he never quite makes clear. What is clear is that he actively despises anyone who is associated with universities, higher education, professional organizations, or academic learning of any kind. The true heroes are for him the lunatics and eccentrics who propose ideas unencumbered by the burden of proof and unleavened by plausibility. There, in the infinite possibility of unrestrained imagination, is where the aliens are to be found.
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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