As embarrassing as it is to admit, I love the show Ancient Aliens; I even own four seasons of it on DVD. If you don’t know about it (you’re missing out), individuals who call themselves ancient astronaut theorists believe that many ancient societies were visited in the past by, well, aliens who helped them create amazing structures anywhere from the pyramids at Giza to the stone heads on Easter Island. Be careful of watching too much at one time; everything starts to make startling sense and you become this guy. Fortunately, I am level-headed enough to realize once I’m done binging on the show that the likelihood of aliens having a part in Ancient Egyptian life is pretty slim. And a lot of what is on Ancient Aliens has been debunked, as well as another claim that one can see an alien depicted in Ancient Egyptian art.
One of the biggest things these people talk about in relation to Ancient Egypt is the construction of the pyramids. They’re huge; their stones clock in at an average of 2.5 tons and had to be meticulously quarried before being somehow assembled at the building site. How could the Ancient Egyptians, who lacked all our fancy technology, even extract and move these blocks from point A to point B?
It’s not any sort of light beam energy sadly. As evidenced by the unfinished obelisk, workers created the pyramids’ bricks by using a harder rock to carve out what they needed (dolerite to the obelisk’s granite). As to moving the stones, it’s actually pretty simple: wet sand. Some Dutch physicists figured out that some wet sand (but not too wet) reduces friction, allowing Egyptians to pull the stone blocks on sleds with greater ease. (Here’s the journal on the matter.) There is even art showing a man pouring water in front of sled, but I suppose that wasn’t subtle enough for our alien theorists.
Those aliens are even more hideous than I imagined. (source)
Perhaps the next most popular topic is that of pharaoh Akhenaten, whose bizarre physical characteristics (his elongated skull is the favorite target) have inspired many to assert that he was the product of an alien/human union and point to his family members as supporting evidence, who also had similar unusual features. His origin story claims that his father was the god Aten; alien theorists take this to mean that Aten was a living, breathing extraterrestrial who reproduced with the human queen. Akhenaten then gave Aten the position of the most important deity in the Egyptian pantheon and forced his subjects to worship his alien dad.
Akhenaten and co. (source)
The Saqqara bird is another target. Stylistically, it isn’t a very faithful depiction of a bird, and it can be argued that it resembles an airplane a little bit, which our alien theorists argue is the true interpretation of the artifact and that the Ancient Egyptians were simply confused by what they saw and replicated in the best way they could. Or even that they possessed the necessary technology and that the Saqqara bird was a model version or tiny test plane. Various tests have either disproved the theory or proved it by recreated the bird and attempting to fly it, though the latter depends on a tail piece that has never been found. While it would be pretty awesome to find out that Khufu was zipping around the Nile in his own private jet, it might be more likely that the Saqqara bird is just a toy.
Of course they had planes and left no other material culture illustrating that fact (source)
This is just a taste of the endless mounds of evidence alien theorists have at their disposable (anything from South America is particularly wonderful). While their theories are shot down just about as fast as they come out, I will still watch this awful show and enjoying seeing just how wild their claims can get.
Obligatory Giorgio Tsoukalos
Akhenaten Cover Image (source)