- Education and Science
Ancient Aliens Part 1 - Megaliths and Monuments
In a previous hub some years ago I expressed my disdain for and rejection of what is commonly referred to as Ancient Astronaut Theory. I figured it might be time to take a second look at the topic and do a more in-depth and slightly more expansive job of explaining why ancient aliens are not a good explanation for the many mysteries of ancient history.
In particular this is motivated by the continued popularity of television programs like Ancient Aliens which parade themselves around on television channels that are meant to be dedicated to education and instead prefer to wallow in pseudoscience or celebrate environmental devastation or hillbilly swamp culture (how many shows about logging, mining or swamps are there now?).
So this is going to be Part 1 in a series examining ancient aliens and explaining why without ANY expertise whatsoever, with simple logic, reason and a tiny bit of research, the claims made by ancient alien proponents can be dismissed. In this installment we're going to deal primarily with the claim that mainstream historians have it all wrong when they say that people, ordinary human beings, created the world's many megalithic structures and ancient monuments.
I will refer to ancient astronaut theory as AAH or Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis, this is because the “theory” does not fit any of the criteria for a scientific theory, instead it is merely a hypothetical explanation. I also want to distinguish between those who support Ancient Astronaut hypothesis as a way to make money and those who have simply been duped by those con-artists into believing. I used to find ancient astronaut “theory” persuasive and even believed it for a brief time in my youth but I soon came to reject it after researching more deeply. If you are a believer I welcome your feedback and hope this will explain why I do not believe or accept AAH and why you shouldn't either.
Mousewheel Crane and Archimedes Screw
Episode I - Megaliths and Monuments
Originally this series was going to be entitled Denigrating the Ancients but I figured that didn't have aliens in the title so people would have no idea what I was talking about. When I say that AAH advocates denigrate the ancients what I mean is that they, for their own agenda and purposes, insult our ancient ancestors by suggesting that they couldn't have possibly planned out and executed feats of awesome engineering without the intervention of aliens.
The idea that these feats of engineering are so precise that they demand a non-human explanation is similar to the Creationist argument of irreducible complexity, it is a fallacious argument from incredulity. To make matters worse ancient astronaut believers will often attempt to defend their belief by raising doubts, legitimate and otherwise, about the mainstream archeological consensus regarding such monuments.
Of course everyone is familiar with the proposition that the Giza pyramid builders were, in fact, extraterrestrials or at least received assistance from some star born visitors. However there are much much larger stones used for building in antiquity and this leads to a problem for AAH proponents, at some point human technology HAD TO BE sufficient to move large stone blocks and yet admitting that ancient human technology was capable of it in one or two instances is tantamount to admitting defeat for them.
Baal's In Your Court
In particular I want to talk about the legendary Trilithon stones located at the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, an infamous site for ancient alien believers that has been mentioned on multiple episodes of Ancient Aliens and is constantly touted. The reason Baalbek is so impressive is because of the sheer size and weight of the Trilithon stones, estimated to be around 800 tons.
800 tons seems like a massive number for any ordinary person to even imagine today and yet mainstream archeologists assure that the ancient Romans moved such gargantuan stones into place! How can they claim that ancient people did this? Even today our largest cranes can only lift about twice that weight and yet this temple was built almost 2000 years ago. To the incredulous observer of these stones there is NO WAY the Romans could have moved them into place and so some, in the absence of an explanation, turn to aliens.
There are some problems with this idea however. The most obvious and glaring is that there is no evidence for alien intervention whatsoever. The other, and perhaps even bigger problem faced by those arguing for AAH at Baalbek is that there is plenty of archeological evidence that favors the human construction explanation and, if you look into it, proves beyond a shadow of any doubt, that human beings, an empire of them called the Roman Empire, building on top of even earlier structures, put those stones into place. The piece of evidence that seals the human explanation in and the alien explanation out is that a rock quarry not far from Baalbek houses two EVEN LARGER stones that were clearly intended to be a part of the plan, one of which weighs an estimated 1200 tons.
These massive stones, still stuck at the quarry, show that the site was constructed by those with limited technology. Unless you want to suggest that these two stones were simply too heavy for the aliens and their miraculous anti-gravity rays you have to concede that Baalbek was planned, constructed and intended for the exclusive use of human beings. And what other explanation could there be? Aliens simply doesn't add up, why in the hell would aliens want to build a temple to Jupiter in a town named after the ancient god Baal? We'll talk about that in a future installment of the series and look at how AAH attempts to tear religion and mythology out of its context to suit its needs.
Speaking of religion Baalbek was constructed in the first century AD. If we're going to put forward bullshit explanations for how it was built why not entertain the idea that Jesus, before his death, performed a miracle to help lift the stones, after all he was supposedly alive around the time construction started on the site. I better be careful what I wish for with such silly ideas though, there are those who believe that Jesus was an extraterrestrial.
Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Aliens
It is important to point out that ancient astronaut hypothesis relies very heavily on arguments for ignorance and thrives by creating doubt about official archaeological explanations for things. Doubt is not unhealthy and neither is skepticism however THE LACK OF AN EXPLANATION IS NOT SUPPORT FOR A SEPARATE EXPLANATION.
If I wake up tomorrow and all the food in my house is gone there are likely a few possibilities as to what might have happened. Someone may have broken in and eaten all my food or I might eaten it while sleep-walking or thrown it all away in some sleepy stupor, etc. I then narrow it down, noticing that my stomach is growling with hunger, clearly not full of food and that there's no trash, all the food is gone boxes and all so I decide that someone must've broken in. There may be some problems with this idea, maybe my door was locked and the fact that they didn't take anything else valuable such as electronics but only took food may cast doubt on my hypothesis that a burglar has taken my food.
If you then come to me and say that you believe that Leprechauns ate all my food and that it couldn't have been an ordinary human you had better have some evidence of your own to present. Casting doubts upon my current hypothesis however is not the same as presenting evidence for a separate hypothesis. Furthermore an extraordinary explanation requires extraordinary evidence. For example if I find that one of my windows was unlocked and that a break-in was possible through that window and you point out that only a small person could have fit through it, so the thief must've been a Leprechaun as you had suggested you aren't any closer to proving your point.
In similar fashion AAH disciples will claim that the precise design and construction of ancient megalithic sites, as well as the size of the stones of course, is not merely evidence that the humans who built it took their time, carefully planned the site, and put forth great effort and ingenuity to ultimately build it but is somehow evidence that those ancient humans COULD NOT or DID NOT build those sites. They then take that unfounded premise and insert aliens into the gap they've artificially created (I call this an Ancient Aliens of the Gaps argument).
Particularly sites like Puma Punku are mentioned as having massive stones that are fit together too precisely for the site to be explained by ordinary terrestrial means of construction. Once again this is a blatant and contemptible argument from incredulity that offers, at best, a backhanded compliment to the ancients and at worst an insult to them and their accomplishments.
When AAH hypothesis talks about ancient monuments and megalithic structures it relies on arguments from incredulity, arguments from ignorance and other fallacious reasoning to do so. Furthermore it talks out of both sides of its mouth, simultaneously praising the precise and awe-inspiring feats of engineering that ancient humans built while denying that they could have done it at all.
The fact is that with most of these sites we have direct physical archaeological evidence of how and why and by whom they were constructed. We lack any evidence that extraterrestrials were involved or ever visited Earth to begin with or even that intelligent alien life exists.
At the end you have to ask yourself which is more plausible. We know from experience that mankind is capable of incredible things when we work together in groups and no archeologist anywhere in the world is claiming that any of these massive works of construction were built alone or even with a small workforce. Even if the stones were massive and hard to move and the actual building of the sites was difficult, arduous and took a lot of engineering know-how is it MORE plausible to believe that intelligent alien life came across vast interstellar distances and decided to help ancient foreign cultures spread out across our planet, spread out across millenia, build megalithic structures that were SPECIFIC to their regions and cultures? The logical answer is a resounding no.
Join me next time when I look at how ancient astronaut “theory” ignores and perverts the actual historical and cultural context of religious texts and beliefs in order to insert aliens into ancient mythology and religion. Thanks for reading!
Ancient Aliens Debunked
This documentary offers a very good look at why AAH doesn't hold up. The best part, its from a Christian, so even Christians can see through the BS of ancient astronauts! All it takes is skepticism and logic and a tiny bit of research here and there!
Thanks again for reading!