A few weeks ago, I watched “The Fourth Kind,” which fortuitously features Milla Jovavich as the main character. Although supposedly based on “actual events” in small-town Alaska, my research turned up little by way of fact to support that assertion. What intrigued me about the movie, however, was the Sumerian aspect (I won’t say more for spoiler reasons). The movie suggested that the Sumerians either were visited by ancient astronauts or themselves were ancient astronauts. Because the Sumerian city-states in Mesopotamia constitute one of the earliest (if not the earliest) complex societies, many people believe that the Sumerians have some connection to aliens or their technology.
This what prompted me to buy and read Samuel Noah Kramer’s The Sumerians: Their History, Culture and Character. Suffice it to say that 125 years of Sumerian archaeology has not revealed any alien technology or evidence of alien contact, and the pre-Sumerian culture sequence is just what one would expect. Smaller agrarian villages that constitute a culture known to archaeologists as the Ubaidians preceded the rise of Sumerian city-states. In this post, I reviewed Sumerian religion — which was entirely anthropomorphic, highly organized, and in many ways foreshadowed future organized religions, including the monotheistic ones. It does not appear to be “alien” in any way.
I mention all this because last night, I watched two separate programs on the History Channel, each two hours in length, addressing the possibility that contact with ancient astronauts (this is the “fourth” kind of contact as the schema goes) contributed to the rise of complex societies across the world, and that this contact resulted in advanced technologies and megalithic structures. Proponents of this idea also assert that humans mistook these ancient astronauts for gods, and that many religions originated from this contact and are reflected in various creation myths.
I have to admit that all this makes for fascinating (and sometimes thought provoking) story telling. Although there are many holes in the ancient astronaut hypotheses, I do think that archaeologists as a whole need to do a better job explaining culture sequences, culture similarities, and admitting there are certain things we simply do not understand. Of the many examples proffered during the two programs last night, I was particularly intrigued by these items:
- The precisely scored granite drill found in the Great Pyramid at Giza — modern machinists and stone workers have not been able to create a similar drill without using diamond-carbide machine technology.
- The large, long cuts in granite blocks found in Egypt; these cuts are perfectly straight and of even depth, suggesting that the Egyptians were using large saws and diamond-based technology.
Neither of these items, however, requires belief in ancient astronauts. It simply means that archaeologists have yet to find the tools responsible for these items and should be looking for them.
Other intriguing pieces of ancient astronaut “evidence” include the Piri Reis map and the sarcophagus lid of Pakal the Great (the Mayan god-king of Palenque), which supposedly depicts him in an astronaut suit and space capsule. You be the judge:
The final items of interest include the descriptions of flying machines described in the ancient Sanskrit Vedic literature. These supposed “rockets” are called Vimanas. If such machines existed, surely they would have left archaeological traces. To date, no traces have been found. The same can be said of the old Columbian gold carvings which appear to depict modern jets; these may actually depict flying fish.
As I was watching these shows last night with a friend, I commented that if all this is true and that fourth kind contact with alien astronauts accounts for the origins of early modern religions, my dissertation and book will become considerably shorter. The genealogy becomes quite simple: (1) the evolution of a mind prone to supernaturalism; (2) a shamanic phase associated with hunting-gathering; and (3) the modern religions which arose from humans mistaking aliens for gods. I am sure my committee would be impressed.
While simple explanations have great appeal and are quite useful to science, simple explanations that invoke the extraordinary require a good deal of evidence. I find it curious that these ancient astronauts left behind so little of their technology and that archaeologists across the world have not discovered more evidence of their existence and presence.