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Ancient Astronauts-A Comprehensive Study
The term 'ancient astronauts ' designates the speculative notion that aliens are responsible for the most ancient civilizations on earth and the UFO or unidentified flying object is a widely used term in the theory of 'ancient astronauts'. In 1952, the United States Air Force, first coined & defined the term ‘UFO’ as any aerial phenomenon or flying object that remain unidentified after scrutiny by expert investigators. However, the American pop culture helped it to shape in such a way that these days the term ‘UFO’ simply means alien spaceship or flying saucers visiting our planet. Out of place artifacts & Xenoarcheology are two other vital components of Ancient Astronaut Theory. In case of Out of place artifacts or OOParts, proponents of the ancient astronaut theory usually points to an unusual artifact and tries to prove that it is of extraterrestrial origin or at least somehow connected to aliens who might have helped to shape that object directly or indirectly (check out my hub: Ancient Artifacts & Modern Hoaxes for a detailed understanding of OOParts). While Xenoarcheology or more widely known in the traditional scientific society as Pseudo-Archeology is just the process for obtaining those OOParts.
Surprisingly, studies have established that only a small percentage of reported UFOs are actual hoaxes, while the majority are observations of some real but conventional object – most commonly aircraft, balloons, or astronomical objects such as meteors or bright planets – that have been misidentified by the observer as anomalies.
The psychological analysis behind UFO cases claims that mankind started to imagine in the existence and travel of alien species (especially in planet earth), just after learning about the concept of spacecraft and the possibility of inter-galactic travel through scientific predictions or science fictions. Skeptics believe that UFOs have only been reported since the beginning of 1900. Authors like Garrett P. Serviss (book: Edison's Conquest of Mars, published in 1897), Charles Fort, Harold T. Wilkins & Morris K. Jessup helped to shape the idea of inter-galactic travel and Ufology in the beginning of twentieth century. Then in the late 60’s to late 80’s, this concept was further exaggerated by various authors & proponents of ufology. Erich Von Däniken, Jean Sendy (book: Those Gods Who Made Heaven & Earth, 1972), Charles Berlitz (book: The Bermuda Triangle, 1974),Rod Serling (Documentary: In Search of Ancient Astronauts), Robert K. G. Temple & Zechariah Sitchin is considered as the major architects who were solely responsible for spreading a disturbing concept like ‘Ancient Astronauts’ without having solid proofs. Specially the works of Erich Von Daniken & Sitchin is considered as a major component in this field. These two pioneers, unlike other authors, tried to provide physical evidence along with their hypotheses. However, in later times, both Daniken & Sitchin were accused of forgery and their hypotheses were completely rejected by most scholars of the society.
On the contrary, the advocates of Ufology claim that, ‘Although the so called "modern era" of Ufology began with the Kenneth Arnold sighting in 1947, UFO reporting dates back to ancient times. Even cave drawings, sculptures, paintings, and folklore of yesteryear show an influence of flying machines on mankind. The sighting of strange objects in the sky may actually predate the emergence of modern man.’
Chariots of the Gods
Born on April 14th, 1935, in Zofingen, Switzerland, Erich von Däniken was educated at the College St-Michel in Fribourg, where already as a student he occupied his time with the study of the ancient holy writings. His first book, “Chariots of the Gods”, which was an immediate bestseller in the United States, Germany, and later in 38 other countries.
For over 30 years, Erich von Däniken has pursued the theory which postulates that Earth might have been visited by extraterrestrials in the remote past. Erich von Däniken has become famous for an infamous idea: that the origins of human culture lie not simply in evolution, but in the influence of extraterrestrial beings. Beginning with his first book, “Chariots of the Gods”, he has argued that the artifacts of ancient cultures show evidence of these visitors, who were sometimes viewed by humans as gods.
He referred to ancient Inca, Aztec, Egyptian and even Indian holy writings to gather proof for his theory. In the Vedic literature of India, there are many descriptions of flying machines that are generally called vimanas. These fall into two categories: (l) manmade craft that resemble airplanes and fly with the aid of birdlike wings, and (2) complex structures that fly in a mysterious manner and are generally not made by human beings. The machines in category (l) are described mainly in medieval, secular Sanskrit works dealing with architecture, military siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances. Those in category (2) are described in ancient works such as the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas, and they have many features analogous of UFOs.
In 1875, the Vaimanika Sastra, a fourth century B.C. text written by Bharadvajy the Wise, using even older texts as his source, was rediscovered in a temple in India. It dealt with the operation of Vimanas and included information on the steering, precautions for long flights, protection of the airships from storms and lightening and how to switch the drive to "solar energy" from a free energy source which sounds like "anti-gravity”!
This document has been translated into English and is available by writing the publisher: VYMAANIDASHAASTRA AERONAUTICS by Maharishi Bharadwaaja, translated into English and edited, printed and published by Mr. G. R. Josyer, Mysore, India, 1979. Mr. Josyer is the director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Investigation located in Mysore.
Various puzzling evidence was found in other ancient civilizations which has intensified this debate further. One of the most intriguing specimens to be found in an area covering Central America and coastal areas of South America, are these Gold trinkets! Estimated to belong to a period between 500 and 800 CE based essentially on stratigraphy (Since they are made from gold, accurate dating is not possible).
Books by Daniken...
UFO proponents claim that like these objects, there are many shocking evidence available in the ruins of Mexican & Egyptian temples. They claim many pyramids and temples are still carrying pictures of strange creatures dressed like astronauts. Eric took his theory further by saying that the existence of pyramids (both Egyptian & Mexican) are the solid prove of their visit as he believed that it was impossible for those civilizations to build such enormous and complex structures with their existing technology.
A Skeptic Explanation
This picture has already been spread through the internet in various UFO related sites. What are the meanings of these strange hieroglyphs? So far the only explanation from skeptic point of view on this issue: “The glyphs are a result of both erosion of the stone surface (evident elsewhere in the temple) and the process of filling in and re-carving the stone to replace some of the original hieroglyphics. The technical term for such a surface that has been written on more than once is a palimpsest… The Abydos glyph was modified at least once in antiquity, and perhaps twice. Some of the filling has fallen out in places where the older and the newer inscriptions overlap, and the result is unique and odd-looking.
… If the ancient Egyptians had vehicles such as helicopters, submarines, and jet airplanes, one would expect to find some evidence of this other than in a single inscription on the lintel of a single temple. This type of large machinery requires a vast amount of support (including fuel, parts, factories, etc.) but there is no trace of any such support in all of Egypt. The Egyptian literature is also bereft of any boast, much less passing mention, of advanced aircraft. Obviously this situation doesn't seem peculiar to those who really want to believe that the ancient Egyptians flew around in airplanes.”
Nibiru: Planet X Nibiru
Another pioneer, in the field of ancient Ufology, is Zecharia Sitchin. Sitchin, being an expert in ancient Sumerian language, gave the UFO proponents a new direction. Sitchin took the Ancient Astronaut concept one step further by concluding that all the ancient myths, folklores and religions that we know today are just a distorted form of true alien encounter stories in the past. For a moment, if we assume that his theory is right, then we can conclude that the Epic of Gilgamesh, the adventures of Hercules, the Greek mythology, the demi-gods of ancient hindu and roman empire, all are actually evidence of alien encounters by our ancestors in the past which are either symbolically or in a distorted form exists in our society today as myths, superstitions or in some sort of religious form.
More specifically, Sitchin attributes the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the "Annunaki" (or "Nephilim"), a race of aliens from a planet he calls Nibiru. According to Sitchin's interpretation of Sumerian cosmology, there is an undiscovered planet which follows a long, elliptical orbit, reaching the inner solar system roughly every 3,600 years. This planet is called Nibiru (the planet associated with Marduk in Babylonian cosmology). Nibiru was the home of a technologically advanced human-like extraterrestrial race called the Anunnaki in Sumerian myth, which Sitchin states are called the Nephilim in Genesis! He asserts that Sumerian mythology reflects this view, though his speculations are entirely discounted by professional scientists, historians, and archaeologists, who note many problems with his translations of ancient texts and with his understanding of physics.
UFO in the Medieval Artwork?
Apart from its presence in ancient cave paintings and mythologies, the presence of saucer shaped flying objects are also visible in many famous European medieval artwork. Following are some famous controversial paintings of such kind:
The opponents of ufology states that, explanations for these round shaped objects would vary from painting to painting. Many experts referred to ‘Abstract’ & ‘modern art’ and stated that the meaning of these objects might vary from artist to artist & may not necessarily carry the same meaning in all these pictures. Hence concluding that all these artists encountered flying saucers in their life and then drew the picture in a symbolic way to alert the future generation, would be a stupid assumption to hold.
The usual explanation for these mysterious objects concludes in a similar pattern and to the opponents, the obvious answer is: ‘Religious Symbolism’! In 2004, Diego Cuoghi (a renowned italian art historian, writer & artist) came with a detailed explanation of all these paintings. In his publication, The Art of Imagining UFOs, in Skeptic, he tried to portray the symbolism of many famous artist of that time and presented a very rational meaning behind most of these paintings.
Here is a link where you will find some translated portion of The Art of Imagining UFO's: http://www.sprezzatura.it/Arte/Arte_UFO_1_eng.htm
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Raëlism - An Alien Religion?
Raëlism is the belief system promoted by the Raëlian Movement, a religious organization which believes that scientifically advanced extraterrestrials known as the Elohim (one of the words used to refer to God in the Torah) created life on Earth through genetic engineering, and that a combination of human cloning and "mind transfer" can ultimately provide immortality. Raëlism is a new religious movement (founded in 1970s) and has been described by detractors as a cult.
Root To Raëlism
Claude Vorilhon (born 1946), also known as Raël, was an aspiring entertainer and performer who had produced a short-lived automobile racing magazine entitled Auto Pop, before he allegedly received a vision from the celestial Elohim on December 13, 1973 in the crater of a volcano near Clermont-Ferrand in central France. Following what he claimed were the instructions given to him, he founded the Raëlian Movement, which claims to have about 55,000 members from almost 84 different countries. Membership may be particularly high in France, Japan, Canada (especially Quebec), and the United States (especially Florida). The Movement spreads its message via Raël's books, Raëlian gatherings, and its web site.
According to Raël, a message explaining our origins and future was dictated to him in December 1973 (year 3000 in the Northern Buddhist calendar), during personal meetings with a 25,000-year-old extraterrestrial named Yahweh who came in a UFO.
The story goes that after terraforming the Earth, human beings from another planet — the "Elohim" (Hebrew for the word "God" as found in the Hebrew Old Testament, which the extraterrestrial himself translated as meaning those who came from the sky in ancient Hebrew) — created humans and all life on earth using DNA manipulation and genetic engineering. The message dictated to Raël during his encounter with the Elohim states that the Elohim contacted about forty people to act as their prophets on Earth, among which are those who founded the world's major religions (Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, etc.)
The Raëlian Bible
The Raelians believe that all the major religion of this world and their sacred books are only the distorted form of the true message. Only some parts of the Bible(Christian) still contains the true message and needs to be interpreted in a different way. The Rael, with the help of his Elohim translated the bible in a unique way and later published it as their holy book.
The Cradle of Life
Raelians believe that Human beings are created in the form of Elohims and in some fields, exceeds the talents of their own creator. In the very beginning, the Elohims found humans as a possible threat to their own existence as the first human beings were smart enough to copy their technology and used them against the Elohims. After that, as a punishment the Elohims cut all the communication with the Humans and thus imposed a knowledge blockade. But the merciful Elohims forgave humans after a certain period and decided to visit earth infrequently. They came to earth in every 500 or 1000 years and revealed the truth to human beings. But the amatuer human mind was incapable of bearing that knowledge and eventually gave birth to various distorted religions( Like ours!).
Allegations of Raëlism as a cult
Despite many allegations, the Raelian Movement has never been proven to be a cult. Some have claimed that Claude Vorilhon uses donations for his own benefit - but this has never been substantiated and all financial records of the Raelian Movement are open for inspection by any member. The French born Claude Vorilhon (aka Rael) has received harsh criticism even in the French press. While others believe that lack of authenticity, false claims and encouraged perversions are the most apparent symbols of Raelisms fakeness.
The Dogon and the Sirius Mystery
A number of UFO authors now claim they have found the long-sought "ultimate evidence" of visits made to earth by ancient astronauts. The myths of the Dogon tribesmen of Mali, West Africa, contain astronomical knowledge which the native people could have neither learned by themselves nor guessed. Obviously, the researchers say, some more advanced civilization told them. These fascinating Dogon legends speak of Jupiter's four moons and Saturn's rings, which were not seen by human beings until the invention of the telescope. They speak of the star Sirius and of a pair of invisible companions. One of them circles Sirius every fifty years.This astonishing claim was put forward in 1976 by Robert Temple in his ancient astronaut book, “The Sirius Mystery”.
At the center of the mystery are the Dogon people living near Bandiagara, about 300 kilometers south of Timbuktu, Mali. Knowledge of their customs and beliefs comes from the French anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, who worked among the Dogon from 1931 to 1952. Between 1946 and 1950 the Dogon head tribesmen unfolded to Griaule and Dieterlen the innermost secrets of their knowledge of astronomy. Much of this secret lore is complex and obscure, as befits ancient legends, but certain specific facts stand out, particularly those concerning the star Sirius, with which their religion and culture is deeply concerned. In the information imparted to the French anthropologists, the Dogon referred to a small and super-dense companion of Sirius, made of matter heavier than anything on Earth, and moving in a 50-year elliptical orbit around its parent star. The white dwarf companion of Sirius which answers to this description was not seen until 1862, when the American optician Alvan Graham Clark spotted it while testing a new telescope; the super dense nature of white dwarfs was not realized until the 1920s. But the Dogon Sirius traditions are at least centuries old!
Temple's answer to this puzzle, since espoused by Erich von Däniken (of course!), was that the Dogon were told by extraterrestrial visitors. A Dogon legend, similar to many other tales by primitive people of visits from the sky, speaks of an "ark" descending to the ground amid a great wind. Robert Temple interprets this as the landing of a rocket-powered spacecraft bringing beings from the star Sirius. According to Dogon legend, the descent of the ark brought to Earth an amphibious being, or group of beings, known as the Nommo. "Nommo is the collective name for the great culture-hero and founder of civilization who came from the Sirius system to set up society on the Earth,"
After going through all these theories, stories & pictures, I am pretty sure that some of you are puzzled and must be thinking: ‘Something is out there…’
Did the ancient Indians learned about flying machines from aliens or are those sacred documents just the proof of Indian’s attempt & failure to invent air planes? Did Mexican gold objects & Egyptian hieroglyphics were result of alien visit or are they just the creation of human imagination? Was it impossible to build pyramids with primitive tools? What does the dogon legend really trying to tell us?
The serious mystery might have intensified the theory of ‘Ancient Astronauts’; however the fact is, like all other UFO theories it also fails to give any physical evidence. Though UFO proponents are claiming that aliens are visiting our planet for last few thousand years, still they are failing to provide a single alien object or physical substance that is not made of this planet! Because of this reason, concepts like 'Ancient Astronauts' are still just a hypothesis rather than a proven fact. And may be this is the biggest weakness of all UFO related theories that UFO proponents don't even have a single specimen of alien object that can totally shut down any traditional scientific doubt.Most critics of Ancient Astronaut theory points out that, “prehistoric peoples were not the helpless, incompetent, forgetful savages that the UFO proponents make them out to be. (They must have at least been intelligent enough to understand the language and teachings of their celestial instructors--no small feat!)” It is true that we still do not know how the ancients accomplished some of their more astounding physical and technological feats. We still wonder how the ancient Egyptians raised giant obelisks in the desert and how Stone Age men and women moved huge cut stones and placed them in position in dolmens and passage graves. We are amazed by the giant carved heads on Easter Island and wonder why they were done, who did them, and why they abandoned the place. We may someday have the answers to our questions, but they are most likely to come from scientific investigation not pseudoscientific speculation. For example, observing contemporary stone age peoples in Papua New Guinea, where huge stones are still found on top of tombs, has taught us how the ancients may have accomplished the same thing with little more than ropes of organic material, wooden levers and shovels, a little ingenuity and a good deal of human strength.
Unfortunately, it seems Nova's "Secrets of Lost Empires" made no appeal to alien teachers in the attempt to figure out how the ancient Egyptians might have raised a giant obelisk, how the medieval warriors built their catapults and how & why the sculptors of Easter Island did what they did!
P.S.: The topic itself is so huge that a lot of controversial material (i.e. Nazca lines, Easter Island mystery, UFO encounters etc.) was deliberately skipped from this article. However, I hope to discuss about these topics in my upcoming hubs.