Anyone who ever watched History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” or read Erich von Daniken’s classic book “Chariot of the Gods?” is familiar with the Ancient Astronaut hypothesis, which states that if you reinterpret historical or biblical events of gods with magical powers who descended from the skies in their “chariots of fire” and other supernatural phenomena from the perspective that members of an advanced extraterrestrial race with superior technology visited Earth in antiquity, their representations will make much more sense.

Religion has shaped many people’s worldview and beliefs about our origin as species, many of which are filled with magic or divine phenomena. But as our technology has advanced over the centuries, things that once seemed magical now make sense and become real possibilities, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory finds increasing acceptance.

The Origins

Egyptian hieroglyphics resembling modern helicopters and airplanes.

It is uncertain who first conceived the Ancient Astronaut Theory, its origin is often attributed to Erich von Daniken, but although it became widely popular in the 1960s with the publication of his books, it had already been presented in the 1870s by Helena Blavatsky, at a historic time when the world was undergoing extraordinary advances in science and technology, giving rise to several schools of alternative thoughts that began to gain a large number of adherents due to the failure of religions to provide satisfactory explanations for the fundamental questions of life and processes of the natural world.

In the mid-20th century, a large number of these thinkers began to publish parallel theories based on the idea that the powers possessed by the ancient “gods” were beginning to look very similar to modern technological advances.

Influenced by ancient enigmatic texts, a growing fascination with science fiction and advances in the Space Program, researchers such as Zecharia Sitchin, Erich von Daniken and even Carl Sagan began to engage with this theory.

These thinkers pointed to the chronologically challenging nature of certain enigmatic artifacts found in antiquity and the incredibly advanced engineering seen in megalithic sites around the world, apparently constructed through primitive means, giving rise to a phenomenon called “Cargo Cult” which occurs after the contact of primitives societies with technologically more advanced civilizations, who saw technology as if it were magic.

Carl Sagan and his fellow astronomer Iosif Shklovsky were certainly captivated by the perspective of extraterrestrial life, believing that proof of their existence would drastically change the course of humanity, giving us a renewed sense of hope and direction.

Oannes, the amphibious sumerian god.

In 1966, Sagan and Shklovsky published the book “Intelligent Life in the Universe”, dedicating an entire chapter to seriously defend the possibility of extraterrestrial contact occurring in bygone eras, indicating a possible “astronaut god”, the enigmatic character of Sumerian mythology, Oannes, an amphibious being half fish, half human, who emerged in the Persian Gulf around 4,000 BC and would have taught primitive civilizations agriculture, mathematics, and arts.

Although by this time the pair of scientists had laid the foundation for the theory, when the idea began to proliferate in the late 1960s, Sagan and Shklovsky turned back on the ancient astronaut hypothesis and repudiated those who speculated without providing solid and verifiable evidence. That’s when Sagan said the famous phrase: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

This probably paved the way for Zecharia Sitchin’s translations of the Sumerian epics, published in the “Earth Chronicles” book series, whose first volume, “The 12th Planet”, was published in 1976.

Sitchin’s interpretations of the Sumerian cuneiform tablets raised the idea that a planet called Nibiru orbited our Solar System every 3,600 years and would be home to an extraterrestrial race called Anunnaki, responsible for the creation of the human race through genetic manipulation and the advancement of human civilization.

Zecharia Sitchin

Sitchin’s interpretations and theories have been debated for decades, but despite the controversy, his work has remained one of the most popular among ancient astronaut theorists, his books have sold millions of copies worldwide and continue to inspire new researchers to this day.

But if anyone were to point to the most prominent influencer in the world of Ancient Astronaut Theory, surely they would say Erich von Daniken, who sold over 70 million copies of his first book “Chariot of the Gods?” around the world since its publication in 1968.

Von Daniken’s success is mainly due to the endless evidence of the Ancient Astronauts that went far beyond what the other authors presented. Out-of-place artifacts such as the Nazca Lines in Peru, the Iron Pillar of Delhi in India, the Map of Piri Reis, the Astronaut of Palenque and the numerous ancient megalithic buildings such as the Pyramids of Egypt, Puma Punku and the Easter Island statues were confused by the explanations of conventional archaeology, and many of these still remain so to this day.

Von Daniken immersed himself deeply in biblical apocryphal books such as the “Book of Enoch” and the strange Hindu stories about the flying ships called Vimana and the accounts of nuclear wars of the Vedas, providing growing evidence that made increasingly sense in a world of old-fashioned religiosity and advanced technology.

Evidence of Ancient Astronauts

Nazca Lines, Peru.

A forerunner of today’s “Ancient Aliens” was aired on American television between 1977 and 1982. The series was called “In Search Of…” featured by Rod Serling, creator of the series “The Twilight Zone” and Leonard Nimoy, the famous interpreter of Mr. Spock in “Star Trek”.

Although not entirely focused on the ancient astronaut theme, the show featured many mysterious and unexplained stories and phenomena related to it, including an episode about the “Cargo Cult” that occurred in World War II.

In areas of the South Pacific, including Papua New Guinea, primitive tribes isolated on their islands and who had never before had contact with modern civilization witnessed strange “flying boats” that descended from the skies, piloted by beings who did not hunt or fish, but never lacked food, as this “fell from the skies” to them.

Transport planes threw large boxes of supplies to american soldiers and pilots who used the Pacific Islands as support bases, and they shared their food, chocolates and soft drinks with local Aborigines.

“Cargo Cult” in Papua New Guinea.

As soon as the war ended, the soldiers abandoned the makeshift airstrips and left with their planes and technologies, leaving behind the primitive group of humans. Then this group began to create effigies of airplanes, hoping to summon those god-like men who flew them back to bring back gifts, food, drinks, medicine, and their “magic”.

This is one of the strongest points of evidence for Ancient Astronaut Theory and seems to apply very well to the many ancient cultures, including those who wrote the Old Testament of the Bible, the Quran, the Mahabharata and other Hindu Vedas, the sumerian Enuma Elish and countless religious scriptures, often describing these same types of phenomena.

The Ancient Astronaut Theory is a legacy that continues to captivate the minds of the curious to this day.

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