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.

ALIEN!!! (source)

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.

Of course, there several medical reasons to explain why Akhenaten simply looks so strange in Egyptian art, including possible gynecomastia and craniosynostosis.

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)

One thought on “Aliens

  1. It is truly fascinating how these “ancient astronaut theorists” continually use anecdotal evidence to support these theories. One petroglyph, on one wall, at one location in Egypt sort of looks like the faded outline of a 1950s movie alien (link below) and is therefore supposed to be considered “proof” that aliens walked among the Egyptians. Meanwhile archaeologists, Egyptologists, anthropologists, and historians attempt to collect as much evidence as they possibly can before putting out a theory; and more importantly, look for any information that could possibly disprove their theory continually through their careers.

    Another brilliant theory is that because all of the pyramid type structures in the world have approximately the same degree of incline, they must have been built by the same people, or had knowledge of each other at the time of construction. No, sorry that is not quite accurate. First, there is a pretty decent variation of degrees ranging from 42 – 54.5 degrees worldwide. While the Mayan and Egyptian Pyramids ranges are much closer (51 – 54.5 degrees), it still has a healthy difference that any advanced civilization would have corrected. Second, a difference of only a few degrees makes a huge difference in construction as evidenced by the “bent pyramid” of Dahshur. It’s base rises at a rate of 54 degrees, but then tapers off to 43 degrees giving it a bent appearance. Because of the high angle of 54 degrees, researchers believe that the structure began to show signs of stress during construction and so the angle was changed. Therefore, through trial and error, not alien intervention, the common 51 degree mark was reached. This angle actually gives you the greatest stable height and uses the least amount of stone.

    Although one of my all time favorite alien theory “proofs” has to be the four hieroglyphs that resemble a modern helicopter, plane, spaceship, and hovercraft (presumably from the movie “Star Wars”). At first glance of this image it looks very convincing, that is until the whole story unfolds (these theorists hate this part). First the photo was manipulated somewhat. It is cleaned up and polished and made to look like it was carved into bronze or copper instead of the real medium… stone. Second, parts of the image are stripped away to leave these four crisp images. In reality there is much more going on in this piece, including hieroglyphs layered over these images. In fact, the images themselves actually represent layers of hieroglyphs as many times Egyptians writers would reuse their mediums over and over again. Even if all that wasn’t the case, the question that immediately comes to my mind is “How did the Egyptians know exactly what a helicopter, plane, 1950s spaceship, and movie stylized hovercraft looked like?” Sounds more like time travel than aliens, as they would have no need for a helicopter or airplane on earth, if they can zip around in 1950 version spaceships (link below).

    Perhaps the greatest contribution to debunking these myths lies in Michigan. After centuries of trying to understand how an ancient civilization was able to build stonehenge, one retired construction worker took it upon himself to figure it out. Within weeks he created numerous ways to not only transport, but lift blocks of stone in approximate weight to those used at stonehenge. The fascinating part… Each of these systems could be operated by one person; not only that, but they were completely made from stone and wood (link below).

    Of course no amount of hard science will ever satisfy those that want to believe aliens have visited earth, and so… Here’s to you alien astronaut theorists. While you may not have science, logic, or reason on your side, you do have quite an imagination. I tip my tin foil cap to you.

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