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Ancient Aliens Part 1 - Megaliths and Monuments

Updated on August 5, 2014


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

Two ancient inventions of ingenious design showing that the ancients were capable of more than we give them credit for, see also:
Two ancient inventions of ingenious design showing that the ancients were capable of more than we give them credit for, see also:

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.

a stonewall at Baalbek, photo from the 1890s
a stonewall at Baalbek, photo from the 1890s | Source

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!


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    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Overall, very good article.

      The AAH is a stretch of the imagination. A better explanation would be an Ancient Advanced Population (AAP) built the megalithic structures.

      A French chemist tested the blocks at Giza and concluded they were a form of natural concrete (fewer additives than Portland Cement). He discovered geo-polymers in the blocks to support his conclusion.

      Natural concrete does Not explain Puma Punku because the blocks would have been flat on top if they had been poured concrete. Puma Punku is still a mystery.

      I suggest an AAP as an alternative to the AAH. Mankind has been around for perhaps 500,000 with little of no intellectual change. History goes back perhaps 10,000 years. What was Man doing for the other 490,000 years? I suggest a High-Tech civilization was developed which collapsed or was destroyed. Several cycles of AAP could have occurred in 500,000 years.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I saw that video too and I just Love Tyson! He's like a big teddy bear with brains.

      If we don't blow ourselves up, we do know that there is a lot to learn about everything, of course. I'm wondering if we are just going to pollute ourselves to death too.

      I can't believe that people as seemingly smart as Pat Sajac and others like him still will not admit that humans are either causing climate change or rapidly helping it along at the very least.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image

      Titen-Sxull 3 years ago from back in the lab again

      I saw a video with astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson recently where he suggested aliens might have visited, studied us and decided we were too far beneath them to bother with. We like to think we're advanced because we sent people to the moon, that's just the tip of the iceberg of what we might be capable of in the future, if we don't blow ourselves up of course.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      It's interesting fantasy for sure. In all of recorded history, there is no absolute proof of extra-terrestrials having visited that we know of. There is no proof of a creator God or Gods either.

      We may believe ourselves to be intelligent, but compared to what?

      I do think there is enough evidence to support life on other planets however, so I won't rule out the possibility of Earth having been visited in our past or present, maybe even our future.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image

      Titen-Sxull 3 years ago from back in the lab again

      "They did not need the pyramids, so why build such things?"

      I think the ego of the Pharaohs is to blame for the Egyptian pyramids. In many cases such structures were built by governments as demonstrations of power or devotion to the gods. They didn't need a Colosseum either but they built one all the same and actually could flood it to recreate Naval battles.

      "Why build the Nazca lines? There was simply no reason to do so. Unless you wanted something that could be seen from space."

      And yet the only human structures we can see from space without advanced satellite imagery are things like the Great Wall of China, which we know didn't have anything to do with aliens and was completely built by man.

      As for tampering with our DNA, we have yet to find any evidence of that, it remains a remote possibility. The more we learn about what our pre-homo sapien ancestors were capable of the more we close those gaps in our knowledge and the less room there is to insert aliens or gods. Also depending on when the aliens would have arrived there is the question of WHICH human species they would have experimented on, perhaps it was the Neanderthals they would have chosen and not our ancestors?

      Could be there are Neanderthal's edited into super-intelligence flying around with the aliens in space right now while we're still stuck here high on our own supposed intelligence ;)

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I am prepared to believe that extra-terrestrials have visited Earth and may have actually immigrated here and brought their DNA which caused us to have more brain function and language in particular. No other animal on Earth reads and writes and extrapolates data like we do.

      The best evidence for this is in ancient petroglyphs of "sky-beings". They look very different than 'normal' humans of the time, yet today we look more and more similar to them, which means to me that they inter-married and spread their DNA during a gradual process.

      I have no doubt that one day, we too will leave this planet (after rendering it unfit for life) and move on. Our technology will certainly lead to the same conclusions on future planets that have 'ape like' beings on it.

      Or I could be totally wrong about it. I really don't know. And that is the quandary we all suffer from when we study ancient architecture. Why did ancient civilizations want to build such monolithic structures? They had perfectly suited housing without going to all that trouble. They could have built stone buildings a tenth of the size of the pyramids and such and would have then had a 'palace'! They did not need the pyramids, so why build such things?

      Why build the Nazca lines? There was simply no reason to do so. Unless you wanted something that could be seen from space.


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