Debunking Ancient Aliens: Ley Lines and the World Grid Theory
Ancient Aliens is a television program currently in its forth season on The History Channel. In the season three episode "Aliens and the Secret Code," various ancient astronaut theorists suggest that the locations of ancient monuments are part of a secret code laid out by aliens. These locations form "energy lines" -- originally termed "ley lines" by Alfred Watkins in 1921 -- and geometric grids. As with most theories proposed on Ancient Aliens , there is no true analysis or counter-argument given.
So, what do we actually know about these geometric grids?
In 1921, Alfred Watkins suggested that ancient monuments in Britain fell along lines, coining the term "ley lines." He suggested that monuments were positioned along these straight lines in order to help ancient humans in traveling long distances.
The ancient astronaut theorists on Ancient Aliens have taken Watkins' old theory -- long ago dismissed by archaeologists -- and applied it on a broader scale. An article published by The Guardian looked at a similar theory surrounding lines formed by ancient monuments in Britain. The Guardian discussed the theory that aliens were involved -- much like the theorists on Ancient Aliens, their source suggested that the lines could not be the result of "chance" -- in the layout of ancient monuments. Giorgio Tsoukalos said in this episode that the patterns and lines "would have been impossible by chance" -- they're a mystery, unless you take into account the possibility of alien direction.
Upon further examination, The Guardian's researchers found that one simply cannot avoid the ley lines in Britain because there are thousands of monuments scattered across a relatively small area. If one were to draw a straight line through any of the monuments in Britain, the probability that the line would run through more monuments is incredibly high. The Guardian cites over 1,500 monuments in Britain alone. If one were to add in monuments across Europe, as the theorists on Ancient Aliens have chosen to do, the number would surely be astronomical -- pardon the pun.
Ancient Aliens looks both at these ley lines in Britain and the supposed world grid. Although The Guardian's article does not look at the world grid theory, the general idea holds. There are so many ancient monuments that to suggest they create a pattern is far-fetched, especially given a proper understanding of statistics. While the geometric formations along the lines of monuments is certainly an interesting proposition, it is better fit for a science fiction novel than a science class textbook.
Monuments as Navigational Beacons
In the aforementioned episode's introduction, and again throughout the episode, the idea that monuments worldwide might be placed as navigational beacons to be used both by the peoples of ancient times and by extraterrestrials. But does this really seem logical?
Let's imagine for a moment that extraterrestrials have in fact visited earth in the past, perhaps many times. Let's assume they come from the closest star to earth -- Proxima Centauri, in the Alpha Centauri system, about 4.24 lightyears away. In order to travel those 4.24 lightyears, one must assume these aliens have a vessel capable of traveling this distance, and additionally some means of navigation. Why would aliens, capable of traveling vast distances, need to leave behind an array of monuments to serve as markers for future navigation? And what possible motive would they have for creating such vastly different markers all across the globe?
While there are certainly possible answers to these questions -- perhaps the aliens intended to live within the human population for a time and needed less sophisticated forms of navigational beacons, and wanted to leave as few clues behind of their navigational beacons as possible -- but nevertheless they are important questions. And they are important questions that Ancient Aliens fails to address.