Paintings from Val Camonica, Italy,
c.10,000 BC, have been claimed to depict extraterrestrial visitors.
It has also been posited that they show gods or other mythological
persons from religions of that time.
The Dogū (土偶) has been speculated to be an Ancient Astronaut that
visited earth during the Jōmon period of Ancient Japan, it shows
features claimed to resemble a space suit, goggles and a space
helmet. Ancient astronaut theories are various proposals that the
Earth had, before first human record, been visited by intelligent
extraterrestrial beings, and that such contact is linked to either
the origins or development of human cultures, technologies and/or
Indeed, some of these theories suggests
that gods from most -- if not all -- religions are actually
extraterrestrial beings, and their technologies were mistaken for
divine entities by primitive man. While no peer-reviewed
scientific journal validates such claims, these theories have been
popularized, particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, by
writers Erich von Däniken,
Zecharia Sitchin and others.
Ancient astronaut theories also may include the idea that
civilization may have evolved on earth twice, and that the
visitation of ancient astronauts may reflect the return of
descendants of ancient humans whose population was separated from
Proponents of ancient astronaut theories point to what they perceive
as gaps in historical and archaeological records and also what they
see as an absence of definitive explanations in certain contexts
from the archaeological sciences.
Advocates of these theories put forward
as evidence their interpretations of various archaeological
artifacts, which they deem to have been anachronistic or beyond the
presumed technical capabilities of the historical cultures they are
associated with. Another common theme relies upon the
interpretation of depictions in certain ancient artworks as being
representations of actual extraterrestrial visitors as realized by
the contacted cultures.
Critics maintain, however, that any gaps in contemporary knowledge
of the past do not demonstrate that such speculative ideas are a
necessary, or even plausible, conclusion to draw from the available
data. A number of ancient astronaut claims are made in direct
opposition to the consensus scientific interpretation of evidence
and to legitimate scientific explanations. The scientific community
remains generally skeptical, and the dominant view is that there is
no actual evidence to support ancient astronaut and paleocontact
Ancient astronaut theories may be considered a subset of
paleocontact theory, a hypothesis that intelligent extraterrestrials
have visited Earth.
Carl Sagan, I.S. Shklovskii and
are three notable scientists who have seriously considered this
Ancient astronaut adherents often claim that humans are either
descendants or creations of beings who landed on Earth millennia
ago. An associated theory is that much of human knowledge, religion
and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times.
Ancient astronauts acted as a “mother culture”.
These ideas are generally discounted by
the scientific community.
Charles Fort (1919)
Morris K. Jessup (1955)
George Hunt Williamson
Peter Kolosimo (in his 1957
book, Il pianeta sconosciuto)
Henri Lhote (1958),
Matest M. Agrest (1959)
Jacques Bergier & Louis
Pauwels in their (1959) book,
The Morning of the
Brinsley Le Poer Trench
W. Raymond Drake (1964)
Brad Steiger (1967) in his
book, The Flying Saucer Menace
I.S. Shklovskii and Carl
Sagan in their 1968 book Intelligent Life in the
Erich von Däniken (1968)
Robert Charroux (1969)
Dr. S. Lunskaya (1970)
Rod Serling in his (1974)
documentary In Search of Ancient Astronauts
Robert K. G. Temple (1976)
Zecharia Sitchin (1978)
Maurice Chatelain (1978)
Richard C. Hoagland
Alan F. Alford
extraterrestrials visited the Earth in ancient times and
profoundly affected the development of human
Charles Fort, Erich
Robert K. G. Temple,
Zecharia Sitchin, Richard C. Hoagland, Burak Eldem
Theosophical writings of the 19th and early 20th centuries contain
many precursors to the ancient astronaut theories. Theosophy
influenced authors such as
H. P. Lovecraft, Charles Fort, and Erich
Erich von Däniken was a leading proponent of this theory in the late
1960s and early 1970s, gaining a large audience through the 1968
publication of his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods and its
Von Däniken's evidence for his vision of
Certain artifacts and monumental
constructions are claimed by von Däniken to have required a more
sophisticated technological ability in their construction than
what was available to the ancient cultures who constructed them.
Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were constructed
either directly by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who
learned the necessary knowledge from said visitors. These
artifacts and monuments include Stonehenge, the
Moai of Easter
Antikythera mechanism and the
Von Däniken claims that ancient art and
iconography throughout the world illustrates air and space vehicles,
non-human but intelligent creatures, ancient astronauts and
artifacts of an anachronistically advanced technology. Von Däniken
also claims that geographically separated historical cultures share
artistic themes, which he argues imply a common origin.
For one such example, refer to von
Däniken's interpretation of the sarcophagus lid recovered from
tomb of the Classic-era Maya ruler of Palenque, Pacal. Von Däniken
claimed the design represented a seated astronaut, whereas the
iconography and accompanying Maya text clearly identifies it as a
portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree of Maya mythology.
The origins of many religions are interpreted by von Däniken as
reactions to encounters with an alien race. According to his view,
humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural
and the aliens themselves to be gods. Von Däniken claims that the
oral and written traditions of most religions contain references to
alien visitors by descriptions of stars and vehicular objects
traveling through air and space.
The author maintains that these should
be seen as literal descriptions from eyewitnesses that have been
interpreted by primitive peoples as supernatural events, or changed
during the passage of time to become more obscure, rather than
symbolic or mythical fiction. One such is
Ezekiel's revelation in
the Old Testament, which Däniken interprets as a detailed
description of a landing spacecraft.
Since the publication of von Däniken's books, no substantial
evidence has been found to verify his claims, while much claimed
evidence has been disproven.
Zecharia Sitchin's series The Earth Chronicles, beginning with
12th Planet, revolves around Sitchin's interpretation of ancient
Sumerian and Middle Eastern texts, mysterious megalithic sites and
anomalous artifacts from around the world. He theorizes the gods of
old Mesopotamia were actually astronauts from the planet
which the Sumerians believed to be a remote "12th planet" (counting
the Sun, Moon, and Pluto as planets) associated with the god Marduk.
According to Sitchin, Nibiru continues
to orbit our sun on a 3,600-year elongated orbit. Though modern
astronomy has yet to find any direct evidence of this hypothetical
planet, a number of recent observations of anomalies in the Kuiper
belt and cometary trajectories have led some mainstream astronomers
to suggest the explanation lies in the existence of a large
planetary or stellar body part of yet beyond our known solar system
Sitchin also suggests that the asteroid
belt between Mars and Jupiter is the shattered remains of the
ancient planet "Tiamat" which he claims was destroyed in one of
Niburu's orbits through the solar system.
According to Sitchin, the Sumerians relate how 50
inhabitants of Nibiru came to Earth approximately 400,000 years ago
with the intent of mining raw materials for transport back to Nibiru.
With their small numbers they soon tired of the task and set out to
genetically engineer laborers to work the mines. After much trial
and error they eventually created homo sapiens sapiens: the "Adapa"
(model man) or Adam of later mythology.
Sitchin claims the Anunnaki were active
in human affairs until their culture was destroyed by global
catastrophes caused by the abrupt end of the last ice-age some
12,000 years ago.
Seeing that humans survived and all they
had built was destroyed, from that point he says, "kingship was
lowered from heaven to Earth" and the Anunnaki left Earth after
giving humans the opportunity and means to govern themselves.
Robert K. G. Temple's 1976 book, The Sirius Mystery presents a case
the Dogon people of northwestern Mali preserved an ancient
account of extraterrestrial visitation around 5,000 years ago. He
quotes various lines of evidence, including advanced astronomical
knowledge inherited by the tribe, descriptions, and comparative
belief systems with ancient civilizations such as ancient
Sumer. His work draws heavily on the studies of cultural
anthropologists, Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen.
His conclusions however, have seen criticism by Carl Sagan and Ian
Ridpath, who pointed out discrepancies within Temple's account, and
suggested that the Dogon may have received some of their information
recently and probably from European sources.
noted anthropologist and ecologist, Walter E. A. van Beek criticizes
Temple's sources, mainly Griaule, for misrepresenting Dogon
ethnography, imposing his own ideas, and fabricating his
In direct response to van Beek's
rebuttal however, daughter and colleague of Marcel Griaule,
Genevieve Calame-Griaule provided a detailed refutation of her own.
She dismisses van Beek's charges as being marred by a confusion of
esoteric traditions and based almost entirely on speculation.
Temple responded to his critics by pointing out that certain
information, like the density of Sirius B, had only been acquired by
Westerners but a few years earlier. He also noted the possible
detection of a third star in 1995 , of which had already been
documented as being incorporated into Dogon mythology.
Skeptic and space journalist, James
Oberg was cautious in his approach to the information, stating that
enthusiasts of Temple's claims have neither been proven or disproved
in their assertions, and while Temple was not able to establish
unquestionably the antiquity of most of the information in question,
speculative notions of recent attainment from Europeans is "entirely
circumstantial", and concludes that it is likely we will never know
for sure and this case may in fact remain a mystery.
Raëlism, or Raëlianism, is a religious movement created by Claude
Vorilhon (or Raël). Raël claims to have encountered
extraterrestrials on a number of occasions. On one such occasion, he
claims that he was informed that humans were created by an advanced
extraterrestrial humanoid race the Elohim, using their knowledge of
DNA & Genetics.
The Raëlian movement also argues against
evolution and supports human cloning.
Earlier sources — while generally not referencing ancient astronauts
per se — suggest the creation of some monuments was beyond human
means, such as Saxo Grammaticus' suggestion that giants had created
Denmark's massive dolmens, or in tales that Merlin had assembled
Stonehenge via magic.
Another frequent theme that can be encountered in many mythologies
is a person who comes from far away as a god, or as the archetype of
a "civilizing hero" who brings knowledge to mankind. Prometheus is
the best-known Western example. In Native American lore there are
numerous examples, including Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs and
Viracocha of the Incas.
The cross-cultural similarities of deities coming from the heavens
and the manners in which they speak to humans are explained by some
as evidence of visitations by extraterrestrial beings. The myths of
Gods and Godesses are supposedly real accounts of these visitations.
The extraterrestrials are seen as divine
due to their technology, which is superior to the point it can only
be explained as the “powers” or magic of the God or Goddess by the
creators of the deity myths.
Proponents cite ancient mythologies to support their viewpoints
based on theories that hold that ancient creation myths of a god or
gods who descend from the "heavens" to earth to create or instruct
man are actually representations of alien visitors, whose superior
technology accounts for their reception as gods. Such phenomenon is
not unknown in modern times as is sometimes the case when primitive
or isolated cultures are exposed to Western technology.
In 1519, with his fair skin and "high
technology", the Spanish conqueror Cortez was greeted by the
unsuspecting Aztecs as the returning God Quetzalcoatl . In the
early 20th century, "cargo cults" were discovered in South Pacific;
cultures who believed various Western ships and their cargo to be
sent from the Gods as fulfillment of prophecies concerning their
As Arthur C. Clarke surmised in his 1961
book Profiles of the Future, "Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic." 
Flying machines are sometimes mentioned in ancient texts with one
example the Vimanas, flying machines that can be found in the
Sanskrit epics of India. These tales range from fantastic aerial
battles employing various weaponry including bombs, to the mundane
relating simple technical information, flight procedure, and flights
of fancy. (See also
Vimanika Shastra, a text on Vimanas "channeled"
in the early 20th century.)
In the Biblical Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel tells of a flying
object seen as a fiery whirlwind which when descended to the ground
gave the appearance of being made of metal. It is described among
other things as a wheel within a wheel containing four occupants,
"living creatures", whose likeness was that of man. The passage goes
on to say that wherever the wheels went the creatures went, and when
the living creatures were lifted up the wheels were lifted up .
The apocryphal Book of Enoch tells of
similar flying objects and beings, but goes further in that Enoch is
taken on journeys to various corners of the Earth in the object and
at one point even travels to the heavens . In several chapters
of the Old Testament, the Hebrew God Yaweh is depicted as traveling
as a column of smoke and/or fire and making the sound of a
These descriptions also describe Yahweh
as a physical presence, not an abstraction. Yahweh is described
raining lightning and stones down upon the enemies of the
Hebrews. However, descriptions of the Hebrew God have also featured
protecting wings and outstretched arms in the Psalms, features which
may be considered contrary to theories of mechanical manifestations
of God, but tellingly refers to the different perceptions of their
God given the different eras the stories were written .
Additionally, the characteristics of the Ark of the Covenant and
the Urim and Thummim are identified as suggesting high
technology, perhaps from alien origins .
Physical evidence includes the discovery of ancient "model
airplanes" in Egypt and Peru, which are said to be similar to modern
planes and gliders, although typically these are interpreted by
archaeologists as stylized interpretations of birds.
More support of this theory draws upon what they claim to be flying
saucers in medieval and renaissance art. Objects in the paintings
that cannot be explained with relevance to the art piece are often
assumed to be flying saucers . This is used to support the
ancient astronaut theory by attempting to show that the creators of
humanity return to check up on their creation throughout time.
Other artistic support for the ancient astronaut theory has been
sought in Palaeolithic cave paintings. Vondijina in Australia and
Val Camonica in Italy (seen above) are claimed to bear a resemblance
to present day astronauts. Supporters of the ancient astronaut
theory sometimes claim that similarities such as dome shaped heads,
interpreted as beings wearing space helmets, prove that early man
was visited by an extraterrestrial race.
The famous Lid of Palenque, the ancient 5 ton sarcophagus lid found
near modern day Palenque in Mexico, displays an intricate carving
said to depict the Mayan king inside a rocket ship .
In modern times, the idea of ancient astronauts seems to have been
given serious consideration by the United States Air Force who
devoted an entire chapter to UFO's as part of their Department of
Physics textbook Introductory Space Science, Volume II which was
included in the Colorado Air Force Academy curriculum until it was
removed in the 1970's.
Relating to ancient astronauts in
particular, the textbook cites several ancient accounts of flying
craft and concludes:
"From available information, the UFO
phenomenon appears to have been global in nature for almost
Nazca lines comprise hundreds of enormous ground
drawings etched into the high desert landscape of Peru which consist
primarily of geometric shapes, but also include depictions of a
variety of animals and at least one human
Many supporters of
this theory cite the Nazca lines as evidence because the figures
created by the lines are most clearly depicted or only able to be
seen when viewed from the air.
Writing professor Joe Nickell of the
University of Kentucky, using only technology he believed to be
available to people of the time, was able to recreate one of the
larger figures with a reasonable degree of accuracy .
building and moving megaliths
Evidence for ancient astronauts is purported to include such ancient
monuments and megalithic ruins as the Giza pyramids of Egypt, Machu
Picchu in Peru, or Baalbek in Lebanon among others . Supporters
contend these structures could not have been built with the limited
technical abilities or tools of the people of the time and argue as
well that many could not be duplicated even today.
They suggest it is not only the unwieldy
size of the stones, but also the precision they were laid and great
distances many were transported which leaves the question open as to
who could have possibly built them. While these contentions are
categorically rejected by mainstream archeology, regardless of their
origin, mysteries still remain as to how and why such structures
Such allegations are not unique in
history, however, as similar reasoning lay behind the wonder of the
Cyclopean masonry walling at Mycenaean cities in the eyes of Greeks
of the following "Dark Age," who believed that the giant Cyclopes
had built the walls.
As well as aliens, other candidates for the
lost civilizations that taught or provided these skills are the
pseudo-historical lost continents of Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu.
Challenging the idea that the transporting of huge megaliths by
ancient man was beyond their capabilities, archaeologists at
Island have attempted to demonstrate how people with stone age
technology could have moved small megaliths short distances like
some of the Easter Island Moai.
The poured concrete Moai used in the
demonstration weighed approximately 6 tons and was lifted onto the
sled by modern crane, but was able to be moved with rollers several
meters and erected upright.
Actual Moai, however, weigh on average
12.5 metric tons with the largest erected being 74.4 metric
The three largest megalithic stones at
Baalbek which together are
referred to as the "Trilithon", are the largest stones quarried by
man and are estimated to weigh 1000 tons each with an even larger
fourth stone still lying in the quarry over 1/2 of a mile away .
The three stones sit on top of a wall
nearly 26ft high comprised of similar stones weighing between 50-500
tons. The world's land record for greatest weight lifted by a mobile
land crane is 1000 tons set by the Lampsons's Transilift Series II
With a maximum un-modified lift capacity
of 1100 tons, this crane requires 80 semi-trailer trucks to deliver
the components and 3 weeks to assemble .
Other than the proponents' own interpretations of ancient writings
and artifacts, there has yet to be found any hard evidence to
support the ancient astronaut hypothesis.
Alan F. Alford, author of “Gods of the New Millennium”, (1996) is an
adherent of the ancient astronaut theory. Much of his work draws on Sitchin’s theories. However, he does admit to some faults in
Sitchin’s theory after deeper analysis.
“I am now firmly of the opinion that
these gods personified the falling sky; in other words, the
descent of the gods was a poetic rendition of the cataclysm myth
which stood at the heart of ancient Near Eastern religions.” (Alford)
Michael (1998). Children of Ezekiel: Aliens,
Ufos, the Crisis of Race, and the Advent of
End Time. Duke University Press, p.250. .
Cithara. St. Bonaventure University, p.12.
Däniken, Erich (1984). Chariots of the Gods.
Berkley Pub Group.
Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize.
Retrieved on May 18, 2007.
Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize.
Retrieved on May 18, 2007.
Daniken's Chariots of the Gods: Science or
Charlatanism?, Robert Sheaffer. First
published in the "NICAP UFO Investigator",
Robert K. G., The Sirius Mystery, 1976.
Broca’s Brain, published by Random House,
Inc. in 1974
Investigating the Sirius "Mystery" -
Skeptical Inquirer (1978) Ian Ridpath
A. van Beek: "Dogon Restudied: A Field
Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule."
Current Anthropology, 32 (1991): 139-167.
Calame-Griaule: "On the Dogon Restudied."
Current Anthropology, Vol. 32, No. 5 (Dec.,
1991), pp. 575-577
D., & Duvent, J. L. (1995) "Is Sirius a
triple star?". Astronomy and Astrophysics
Robert K. G. The Sirius Mystery: New
Scientific Evidence of Alien Contact 5,000
Years Ago. New York: St. Destiny Books
6, The Sirius Mystery", in UFOs and
Outer Space Mysteries, (1982) Donning Press
Red Letter edition 1944, Ezekiel 1:1–28
Enoch Together with a Reprint of Greek
2 Samuel 22:10–16
Biography, Jack Miles 1996 ISBN-10:
Wikipedia Baghdad Battery article: "On
Myth Busters episode 29 (which aired on March
23, 2005), the Baghdad battery "myth" was
put to the test… For the religious
experience aspect of the batteries, a
replica of the fabled Ark of the Covenant
was constructed, complete with two angels
(resembling Adam and Jamie). Instead of
linking the angels’ golden wings to the low
power batteries, an electric fence generator
was connected. When touched, the wings
produced a strong feeling of tightness in
the chest. Although the batteries themselves
had not been used, it was surmised that, due
to the apparent lack of knowledge of
electricity of ancient people, any form of
unusual sensation from them could equate to
the “divine presence” in the eyes of ancient
Wikipedia article on Urim and Thummim:
"According to the teachings of Judaism, a
small parchment with God's holy name, the
Tetragrammaton, inscribed on it was slipped
into an opening under the Urim and Thummim
on the high priest's breast plate, which
caused the breastplate to "glow" and thereby
"transmit messages" from God to the Children