The Case Against Ancient Aliens Part Seven Central and South America

(This post was originally intended to be part of a series of articles which were published in Ufologist Magazine in Australia, but unfortunately it ceased publication after the first four were published.)

The Ecuador Tunnels Hoax

In his 1973 book The Gold of the Gods von Daniken claims that he and Juan Moricz  explored an underground tunnel system which ran for hundreds of miles in Ecuador. He wrote,

“To me this is the most incredible, fantastic story of the century. It could easily have come from the realms of Science Fiction if I had not seen and photographed the incredible truth in person. What I saw was not the product of dreams and imagination, it was real and tangible.”[1]

Von Daniken described entering the cave,

“We switched on our torches and the lamps on our helmets, and there in front of us was the gaping hole which led down to the depths. We slid down a rope to the first platform 250 feet below the surface. From there we made two further descents of 250 feet. Then our visit to the age-old underworld of a strange unknown race really began.” [2]

Anyone, who reads this and von Daniken’s use of the first person, would conclude that von Daniken is saying he went into the cave and saw these things himself.

He described how they entered “a hall as big as the hangar of a Jumbo Jet … Galleries leading in different directions branched off it.”[3] They went down a side passage to another hall which measured 153 feet by 164 feet where there was a library comprising 2-3000 metal plaques, about three feet high and one foot wide with writing upon them [4].

However, Juan Moricz  later said that von Daniken never entered the caves. In a 1974 interview with Playboy, he was asked, “Which of you is telling the truth?”

Von Daniken replied, “I guess we both are telling half the truth.” He went on, “In German we say a writer, if he is not writing pure science, is allowed to use some dramaturgisch effekte – some theatrical effects. And that is what I’ve done.”

The interviewer asked, “Did you, in fact, see things you describe? Seven chairs made of a plastic like material, a zoo of solid-gold animals, a library of gold plates?”

Von Daniken replied. “Definitely. No doubt. I must say I am not sure, anymore, if the so-called zoo is made of gold. It could be something different.” [5]

In his 2009 book History is Wrong von Daniken quotes his description of the metal library from The Gold of the Gods, but it is edited in such a way that he now does not claim to have it himself [6]. He now says the description of the metal library came for Juan Moricz [7] who only took von Daniken into a side cave,

“Afterward, we crawled a few meters into the cave. From deep within the dull depths we could hear the rumbling of water … Apart from a few strange figures and stone sculptures that stood out in the scampering torchlight, there was little to see. Certainly no metal library.”[8]

Von Daniken is contradicting himself. The 1974 Playboy interview also reports how von Daniken has three convictions for embezzlement and court psychiatrists said he displayed “a tendency to lie” and was “a liar and a criminal psychopath.” [9]

The Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are a series of lines in the Nazca Desert in Peru. Many are straight lines which run for hundreds of metres. Others form drawings of animals. They can only be appreciated from the air.

In Chariots of the Gods? von Daniken writes, “The archaeologists say they are Inca roads. A preposterous idea!” [10]

No archaeologist thinks the Nazca Lines are roads.

He continued. “Seen from the air, the clear-cut impression that the 37-mile -long plain of Nazca had on me was that of an airfield!” [11]

The 1970 documentary Chariots of the Gods? says. “There’s no doubt. They were landing fields. The Plain of Nazca is a gigantic abandoned airport.” [12]

In his 1977 book According to the Evidence, von Daniken writes. “So it was a landing-ground for the extra-terrestrials.” [13]

The Ancient Aliens episode “The Evidence” asks, “Could the complex set of lines covering Peru’s Nazca plain …. be evidence of runways for a worldwide air transportation system?” [14]

In The End of Days Zecharia Sitchin suggested Nazca was the last spaceport of the Anunnaki and the lines were the product of spaceships taking off when the aliens left Earth [15].

The Nazca Lines may look like runways but some are over 8 kilometres long. One is 60 kilometres long. They are too long to be runways unless the aliens had invented interplanetary travel but not brakes.

Furthermore, the ground is too soft for any aircraft to land there. The German archaeologist Maria Reiche, who began studying the Nazca Lines in 1940, commented. “I’m afraid the spacemen would have gotten stuck.” [16]

In his book The Ancient Aliens Question Philp Coppens writes,

“Today, owners of local airplanes offer tourists the experience of making an “aborted landing” on the lines: The pilots prepare for a landing as if the lines were an airport, and just before the landing, the plane pulls up again.” [17]

This may give the impression of landing fields but it actually proves they were not, because if they did try to land, they would crash in the soft ground. Coppens also points out that if aircraft did land there, they would have blown the lines away,

“The problem is simple: If a plane ever did manage to land on the lines, on the rough terrain, the sheer displacement of air would result in the lines being blown off. The top soil would once again cover the scraped-off areas, and the white lines of the soil underneath would disappear.” [18]

In History is Wrong von Daniken denied ever saying the Nazca Lines were landing strips for aliens,

“Finally, just to hammer it in a bit more for those who still cottoned on: I never wrote in any of my books that aliens built the “landing strips”, or that the site is some kind of “spaceport!”[19]

The Palenque Sarcophagus

Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque

In the Temple of the Inscriptions in the Mayan city of Palenque in Mexico lies the sarcophagus of King Pakal I (615-683 AD). Erich von Daniken says the carving on the sarcophagus lid shows a man in a rocket,

“There sits a human being, with the upper part of his body bent forward like a racing motor-cyclist: today any child would identify his vehicle as a rocket. It is pointed at the front, then changes to strangely grooved indentations like inlet ports, widens out and terminates at the tail in a darting flame. The crouching being himself is manipulating a number of undefinable controls and the heel of his left foot on a kind of pedal. His clothing is appropriate: short trousers with a broad belt, a jacket with a modern Japanese opening at the neck and closely fitting bands at arms and legs. With our knowledge of similar pictures, we should be surprised if the complicated head gear were missing. And there it is with the usual indentations and tubes, and something like antenna on top. Our space traveller – he is clearly depicted as one – is not only bent forward tensely, he is also looking intently at an apparatus hanging in front of his face. The astronaut’s front seat is separated by struts from the rear portion of the vehicle, in which symmetrically arranged boxes, circles, points and spirals can be seen.” [20]

Admittedly, this does look like a rocket, but von Daniken is reading too much into this image. The hands are not manipulating controls or anything else. David Hatcher Childress, who now appears on Ancient Aliens, pointed out in his 1992 book Lost Cities of North and Central America, he is bare-chested and barefoot,

“It was a bizarre scene, though von Daniken’s explanation didn’t make sense to me. The man was barefoot and wore no shirt, a typical dress for the Maya, but is this how one dresses when one is in one’s spaceship? Maybe tomorrow’s astronauts will wear surfer shorts and rubber flip-flops.” [21]  

If it is a rocket, it would be about four metres long. Where are the fuel tanks?  Childress further argues that interplanetary travellers would not use rockets,

“Lastly, it seems unlikely that any sort of rocket power was ever used in the past or will be ever be used in the future, by visiting astronauts or ancients returning to earth. That other civilizations (of other planets or from earth) would have ever travelled via rocket power is unlikely considering the nature of flying saucers, conventional airships and the science of anti-gravity, gravity control and electro-magnetic space craft.”[22]

Then, there is the problem of the bird on the tip of the “rocket”.

Archaeologists believe the “rocket” is a representation of the Mayan World Tree which viewed the universe as consisting of three planes, the underworld, this terrestrial world and the upper world or heaven. The roots of the World Tree went down into the underworld or Xibalba, which ancient aliens believers interpret as the flames of the rocket, while the top of the tree reached into heaven, symbolized by the Celestial Bird. The soul of Pakal is travelling along the World Tree, rising out of the jaws of the underworld, which ancient aliens believers interpret as the back of the rocket, rising towards heaven. Other interpret it as Pakal falling backwards into the underworld.

This makes sense when we see similar iconography on other temples at Palenque, the Temple of the Cross and the Temple of the Foliated Cross built by Pakal’s son Kan Balam (684-702 AD).

Wall panel showing the Maya World Tree in the Temple of the Cross
Wall panel showing another version of the Maya World Tree in the Temple of the Foliated Cross

Other Mayan claims

Erich von Daniken has made some other strange claims about the Maya. In his book Chariots of the Gods? he suggests the Sacred Cenote (“sacred well”) at Chichen Itza was possibly made by a meteorite [23]. However, the documentary Chariots of the Gods? says,

“It is a perfectly round crater in the rock. It couldn’t possibly have been formed naturally, nor could human hands alone have scooped it out. It resembles a crater made by the exhaust gases of a very powerful rocket engine.” [24]

Since the well is about 65 metres deep and 40 metres wide, it would have been a very big rocket, too big to lift off. The well is not a meteorite crater either. It is a sinkhole created by underground water dissolving the limestone.

Erich von Daniken thinks a rocket made this sink hole at Chichen Itza

Von Daniken asks, “How did the Maya know about Uranus and Neptune?” [25]

There is no evidence the Maya knew about Uranus and Neptune [26]. Like other ancient civilizations, they were only aware of the planets which could be seen with the naked eye. In fact, the Maya believed the world rested on the back of a crocodile, which suggests they did not receive any astronomical knowledge from aliens [27].

Tiwanaku and Puma Punku

The Sun Gate at Tiahuanaco

The ruins of Tiwanaku or Tiahuanaco are located near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Part of the site includes the temple complex of Puma Punku. The Ancient Aliens episode “The Mystery of Puma Punku” says that the archaeologist Arthur Posnansky dated Puma Punku to 15000 BC [28]. Posnansky believed that the Kalasasaya temple down the road at Tiwanaku was meant to be aligned so that the sun would rise over the cornerstones at the summer and winter solstices. It doesn’t, but it did 15000 years ago, so, according to Posnansky, this meant Tiwanaku was built 15000 years ago. That would be 13000 BC, not 15000 BC. Or maybe it was not meant to align at all [29].

In contrast, conventional archaeologists date Puma Punku to around 600 AD.

Erich von Daniken says that the Incas told the Spanish Conquistadors that they did not build Puma Punku, but said that “This was made by the gods in one single night” [30]. The first part is true. The Incas did not build Puma Punku. Their empire was founded around 1300 AD. However, Puma Punku was not built overnight, but in three stages [31]. Moreover, it looks like Puma Punku was not even finished.

As I mentioned earlier when it came to Stonehenge and Baalbek, local people do not necessarily know who built older monuments in their area. Outside archaeologists can have a better idea. Just because the locals attribute them to the gods or giants does not mean we should take their legends seriously.

Ancient aliens believers usually claim that the Great Pyramid and other ancient structures were built by humans using alien technology. However, they believe Puma Punku was actually built by aliens. Giorgio Tsoukalo says, “Puma Punku is the only site on planet Earth that, in my opinion, was built by extraterrestrials.” [32]  

Puma Punku is not as impressive as the Great Pyramid or Baalbek. The definitive proof for ancient aliens is supposed to be rectangular recesses which have been cut into the blocks, particularly the large H-shaped blocks. The Ancient Aliens episode “The Mystery of Puma Punku” shows a CGI light going over some of the carvings, suggesting that they must have been cut by lasers [33].

Ancient aliens believers are a bit confused about what these blocks are made of.  In Knowledge Apocalypse Jason Martel says they are made of granite and diorite [34] .  In the episode “The Mystery of Puma Punku” David Hatcher Childress repeatedly says the blocks are made of granite [35]. It would be difficult for people to carve right angles in hard granite with primitive tools, however, in the same episode the narrator says the blocks are andesite [36].

In The Enigma of Tiwanaku and Puma Punku Brien Foerster correctly says the blocks are made of andesite and sandstone [37]. Foerster even appears with Childress at Puma Puku in “The Mystery of Puma Punku” [38]. It is a pity he did not tell him what the blocks are really made of.

I do not see how being able to carve rectangular recesses into a block of andesite is more impressive than the ancient Egyptians being able to carve lifelike statues out of granite.

Childress is also shown holding a steel square against a block, saying, “You can see with this block of granite that it’s really been cut at very accurate right angles” [39] . Actually, you can see from the gap between the square and the surface that it is not a perfect right angle.

The Ancient Aliens episode “Chariots, Gods and Beyond” suggests that the Puma Punku blocks were made from moulds [40]. However, in an article “The Engineers of Puma Punku” in Atlantis Rising Christopher Dunn describes how he measured four of the H-blocks and found they were not identical. They could not have been made for moulds [41].

In the episode “The Mystery of Puma Punku” stone from Puma Punku is taken to Christopher Dunn in his workshop who cuts it with a laser and a diamond saw and compares these modern cuts with the original cut surface under a microscope. The narrator says that “the comparison reveals distinct differences” [42]. Dunn says that “whatever they used to cut the ancient surface must have been a different method.”[43] In other words, it does not look like they used machine tools. This would appear to discredit their claims that some sort of advanced technology was used to cut the stones.

Dunn also dismissed the theory that the H-blocks were cut by lasers; “There is only word for such notions: Impossible.” [44]

In the Ancient Aliens episode “The Mystery of Puma Punku” the interviewees have different theories about what Puma Punku was. Erich von Daniken suggests it was an “alien base camp” [45]. Brien Foerster suggests it was a factory [46]. David Hatcher Childress suggests it was a “granite spaceport” [47]. in an episode of another series In Search of Aliens, “The Mysteries of Puma Punku” Childress suggests that Tiawanaku and Puma Punku were “mining centres” [48].

An alien spaceport would presumably need a landing pad, hangars, a power generator, storage areas, living quarters and a command and communications centre. The Puma Punku complex consisted of an unwalled wet court, an unwalled esplanade leading to a terraced platform, which included a sunken court and a walled east court on the other side [49]. The evidence does not support their speculations. Likewise, there is no evidence the area was an alien mining centre, such as a big hole in the ground.

Map of Puma Punku from William Isbell, “Palaces and Politics in the Andean Middle Horizon”, in Susan Toby Evans and Joanne Pillsbury (editors), Palaces of the Ancient New World, Harvard Unviersity, Wahington DC, 1998, p 230

In the 1950s the Feunta Magna bowl was purportedly discovered near Lake Titicaca. This is a stone bowl inscribed with what appears to be Sumerian writing. In the In Search of Aliens episode “The Mysteries of Puma Punku” David Hatcher Childress says, “The Feunta Magna Bowl is basically proof that the Sumerian Anunnaki came to South America.” [50]   

Writing on the inside of the Fuenta Magna Bowl

Archaeologists assume the bowl is a hoax [51], but even if it authentic, it hardly proves that aliens from Sumer visited South America. People, capable of intercontinental and interplanetary travel, do not use stone bowls. If it is authentic, it only proves that the Sumerians reached South America, which would appeal to the likes of Graham Hancock, but it is not evidence for ancient aliens.


[1] Erich von Daniken, The Gold of the Gods, Corgi, London, 1975, 1973, p 1

[2] Ibid., p 6

[3]  Ibid., p 7

[4]  Ibid., p 9-10

[5] “Playboy Interview: Erich Von Daniken”, Playboy, August 1974, p 58

[6]  Erich von Daniken, History is Wrong, New Page Books, New Jersey, 2009, p 91

[7]  Ibid., p 99

[8] Ibid., p 109

[9]  “Playboy Interview: Erich von Daniken”, op cit, p 51-52

[10] Erich von Daniken, Chariots of the Gods?, Corgi, London,1972, p 31

[11]  Ibid., p 32

[12] “Chariots of the Gods”, Terra-Filmkunst, 1970, 90 min

[13]  Erich von Daniken, According to the Evidence, Souvenir Press, London, 1977, p 336

[14] “The Evidence”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2010, 23 min

[15]  Zecharia Sitchin, The End of Days, Harper, New York, 2007, p 244

[16]  Loren McIntyre, “Mystery of the Ancient Nazca Lines”, National Geographic, May 1976, p 718

[17] Philip Coppens, The Ancient Aliens Question, New Page Books, New Jersey, 2012, p 146

[18]  Ibid., p 147

[19]  History is Wrong, op cit., 191

[20]  Chariots of the Gods?, op cit., p 123-124

[21] David Hatcher Childress, Lost Cities of North and Central America, Adventures Unlimited Press, Illinois, 1992, p 196

[22]  Ibid., p 198

[23] Chariots of the Gods?, op cit., p 127

[24]  “Chariots of the Gods?”, op cit., 59 min

[25] Chariots of the Gods?, op cit., p 126

[26]  Ronald Story, Guardians of the Universe, New English Library, London, 1980, p 56

[27] Clifford Wilson, Crash Go the Chariots, Master Books, San Diego, 1976, p 98

[28]  “The Mystery of Puma Punku”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2012, 3 min

[29] Jason Colavito, “Review of Ancient Aliens S04E06: The Mysteries of Puma Punku”, www,

[30] “The Mystery of Puma Punku”, op cit., 22 min

[31]  William Isbell, “Politics and Palaces in the Andean Middle Horizon”, in Susan Evans and Joanne Pillsbury (editors), Palaces of the Ancient World, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Washington DC, 2004, p 229-230

[32]  “The Mystery of Puma Punku”, op cit., 1 min

[33] Ibid., 29, 43 min

[34] Jason Martel, Knowledge Apocalypse, X-Facts, USA, 2012, p 44

[35]  “The Mystery of Puma Punku” op cit., 3, 10, 12, 28 min

[36]  Ibid., 5, 9, 10 min

[37]  Brien Foerster, The Enigma of Tiwanaku and Puma Punku, USA, 2015, p 12

[38]  “The Mystery of Puma Punku”, op cit., 5, 7, 10-11, 20, 30 ,42-43 min

[39]  Ibid., 5 min

[40] “Chariots, Gods and Beyond”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2009, 48 min

[41]  Christopher Dunn, “The Engineers of Puma Punku”, Atlantis Rising, No. 103, Jan-Feb 2013, p 64

[42]  “The Mystery of Puma Punku”, op cit., 8 min

[43]  Ibid., 9 min

[44]  “The Engineers of Puma Punku”, op cit., p 64

[45]  “The Mystery of Puma Punku”, op cit., 24 min

[46]  Ibid., 29 min

[47] Ibid., 28 min

[48]  “The Mysteries of Puma Punku”, In Search of Aliens, History Channel, 2014, 34 min

[49] “Politics and Palaces in the Andean Middle Horizon”, op cit., p 230

[50]  “The Mysteries of Puma Punku”, op cit., 34 min

[51] “10 Amazing discoveries That Won’t Make You Question Everything”,

The Case Against Ancient Aliens Part Six Vimanas and Nuclear War in Ancient India

(This post was originally intended to be published as an article in Ufologist Magazine, but unfortunately they have ceased publication.)


Ancient aliens believers claim there are descriptions of flying machines called vimanas and nuclear warfare in ancient Indian texts. These claims first appeared in the 1953 book Flying Saucers Have Landed by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski [1].

In a blog articles “Vimana Aircraft of India: More Sloppy Scholarship from David Childress”, Jason Calovito explains the origin of the word “vimana”,

“The word vimana means “that which was measured out”. The word was first applied to the palace of the monarch, and from that to temples. Because temples are the houses of the gods, the Hindu gods’ palaces could also be called vimanas. In the oldest texts the Vedas, these were drawn by flying horses, like the chariot of the sun god in most Indo-European cultures (see, for example, the myth of Phaethon.)  In later epics, beginning with the Ramayana (c. 500 BCE), the chariots lost their horses and were flying on their own. The very first of these is the flying chariot of the earthly king Ravana called Pushpaka. By the time of the Mahabharata (c. 400 BCE), these flying machines had grown in size – one was now described as 12 cubits in circumference – but they never lost the large wheels that marked them as derived from earthly horse-drawn chariots.”[2]

Because vimanas came to mean both Indian temples and the flying palaces of the gods, the flying vimanas were usually portrayed as having the same tall trapezoid shape as Indian temples, which do not appear at all aerodynamic.

As mentioned before, historians tend to regard earlier sources as more reliable because they have not become embellished over time, but ancient aliens believers tend to rely on the later sources which are less reliable and bear less resemblance to the original events if they happened at all.

The Ancient Aliens episode “The Evidence” claims that there are “ancient Sanskrit texts dating back as far as 6000 BC describing in vivid detail flying machines called vimanas.”[3]

Actually, there were no Sanskrit speakers in India in 6000 BC. Instead of showing us any of these supposed 8000 year old texts, Ancient Aliens proceeds to show us illustrations from the Vimanika Shastra [4]. This is not an ancient text. It was channelled by Pandit Subraaya Sastri between 1918 and 1923 [5]. One would not learn this from Ancient Aliens who give their audience the impression this is an ancient text.

A vimana from an ancient Indian text written around 1920

In 1974 the Indian Institute of Science published a study of the Vimanika Shastra and concluded that the aircraft described in the text could not have flown and it was apparently written by someone who did not understand aerodynamics;

“None of the planes has properties or capabilities of being flown; the geometries are unimaginably horrendous from the point of view of flying: and the principles of propulsion make them resists rather than assist flying.” [6]

In Weapons of the Gods Nick Redfern comments,

“There’s no doubt, however, that everything that ahs been circulated about vimanas – as fast-flying vehicles equipped with atomic bombs – does not come from the pages of the Mahabharata, even though that is clearly the assumption of many. It is an outgrowth and expansion on the words of an Indian mystic who, in the early 20th century, received messages in his mind from paranormal entities.” [7]

An authentic Indian text which mentions vimanas is the Samarangana Sutradhara, an 83 chapter treatise on Indian architecture and engineering, which was written by King Bhoja of Dhar (1010 -1055 AD). Chapter 31 discusses yantras, which can be translated as mechanical contrivances or machines, including two types of vimanas. The Laghu Dharu vimana was made of wood and shaped like a bird and had a pilot. It was powered by heating mercury which caused its wings to flap and fly. The Alaghu Dharu vimana was also made of wood and shaped like a temple, with a wooden car flying alongside. It was also powered by heating mercury and was used to scare war elephants

Bhoja assumed that an aircraft would fly by flapping its wings, much in the same way some people before the Wright Brothers assumed it was possible to fly by imitating birds and flapping man-made wings. This suggests they had no real experience with actual flying machines. Likewise, if the ancient Indians really did use vimanas for military purposes, they would surely do more than just scare elephants, such as dropping bombs.

The episode “The Evidence” also suggests that there was a “worldwide transportation system” and vimanas flew around the world in ancient times and landed at Nazca in Peru and on top of Masada in Israel [8]. (The Nazca lines which some ancient aliens believers claim are runways, will be discussed in the next issue.) However, accounts of tall trapezoid-shaped flying machines can only be found in India, where they resemble the local temples. If they did fly around the world, surely we would expect there to be similar descriptions from elsewhere in the ancient world.

Likewise, Ancient Aliens do not explain why vimanas would need runways to land in Peru, but not in India.

In 2010 there were reports that a vimana had been discovered in Afghanistan and eight American soldiers had disappeared trying to remove it. Even David Hatcher Childress described these claims as “dubious” [9]. In fact, this story seems to be based on a 2007 film The Objective about a patrol of America soldiers which disappears while looking for vimanas in Afghanistan. The Objective was directed by Daniel Myrick who co-directed The Blair Witch Project which also confused some people about what was real.

Nuclear war in the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is an ancient Indian epic which is about 1.8 million words long and divided into 18 parvas or books. It tells the story of the struggle between two branches of a family, the Kaurava and the Panndava, for the throne of Hastinapura in northern India. This culminated in the Battle of Kurukshetra around Haryana which lasted for 18 days. Ancient aliens believers claim that the Mahabharata described the use of nuclear weapons during this battle.

In his book Vimanas, Flying Machines of the Ancients, David Hatcher Childress claims this is a passage from Karna Parva (Book 8) of the Mahabharata which describes a nuclear explosion,

“Gurkha, flying in his swift and powerful vimana, hurled against the three cities of the Vrishnis and Andhakas a single projectile charged with the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and fire, as brilliant as ten thousand suns, rose in all its splendour … it was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, …The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. The hair and nails fell out; Pottery broke without cause; And the birds turned white .. after a few hours all foodstuffs were infected … to escape the fire the soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment.” [10]

However, in Ancient Atom Bombs Jason Colavito shows that his passage is a combination of three separate passages. One passage is a vision which did not come true. The reference to hair and nails falling out is meant to sound like the effects of radiation poisoning, but it takes place three decades after the battle and actually says that rats and mice ate their hair and nails. This invented passage has been quoted by numerous ancient aliens believers who clearly have not checked the original source [11].

In Chariots of the Gods? von Daniken quotes another passage from the Mahabharata which he claims is describing a nuclear explosion,

“It was as if the elements had been unleashed. The sun spun round. Scorched by the incandescent heat of the weapon, the world reeled in fever. Elephants were set on fire by the heat and ran to and fro in a frenzy to seek protection from the terrible violence. The water boiled, the animals died, the enemy was mown down and the raging of the blaze made the trees collapse in rows as in a forest fire. The elephants made a fearful trumpeting and sank dead into the ground over a vast area. Horse and war chariots were burnt up and the scene looked like the aftermath of a conflagration. Thousands of chariots were destroyed, then deep silence descended on the sea. The winds began to blow and the earth grew bright. It was a terrible sight to see. The corpses of the fallen were mutilated by the terrible heat so that they no longer looked like human beings. Never before have we seen such a ghastly weapon and never before have we heard of such a weapon.” [12]

His account is admittedly unusual, but it does not sound like a description of a nuclear explosion. There is intense heat, but there is no blast wave. If elephants were close enough to the explosion to be set on fire, they would not be able to run around.  They would also have been crushed by the blast wave and the trees, which caught fire, would have been knocked down by the blast wave.

Moreover, von Daniken left out part of this passage which reads,

“From all points of the compass, cardinal and subsidiary, from the firmament and the very Earth, showers of sharp and fierce arrows fell and issued, with the impetuosity of Garuda or the wind. Struck and burnt by the shafts of Acwatthamn that were all endued with the impetuosity of the thunder, the hostile warriors fell down like trees burnt by a raging fire.” [13]

This is not an account of a nuclear warhead exploding. It is describing a mass of flaming arrows raining down from all directions. They burn things, but there is no explosion or blast wave [14].

The ancient aliens movement would have us believe that aliens gave nuclear weapons to primitive humans to settle a family feud. Quite frankly, this does not strike me as particularly responsible. There has never been an episode of Star Trek where the Federation discovers a planet where primitive humans are fighting among themselves, so they give them nuclear weapons.


During the 1920s archaeologists began excavating the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, which was occupied from around 2500 to 1900 BC, in Sindh, Pakistan. The Ancient Aliens episodes “Alien Power Plant”[15] and “The Alien Agenda”[16] claim that the city was destroyed by a nuclear explosion. Mohenjo-Daro is about 800 kilometres from Haryara where the Battle of Kurukshetra is supposed to have taken place, so any nuclear explosion would not be related to the events of the Mahabharata. In the footage, which Ancient Aliens show of Mohenjo-Daro, the walls are still about two to three metres high. They had not been knocked over by the blast wave of a nuclear explosion.

The episode “Alien Power Plants” also claims that radioactive skeletons were discovered in Mohenjo-Daro [17]. An archaeologist Francis Taylor is supposed to have discovered these radioactive skeletons. Skeletons have been found at Mohenjo-Daro, but there is no evidence they are radioactive. Likewise, there is no evidence that there ever was an archaeologist Francis Taylor who excavated the site [18].

There is no denying that ancient Indian legends describe strange weapons and aerial vehicles. Ancient aliens believers assume that every myth and legend is true and meant to be taken literally, however it seems more likely they are just made-up stories. Jacques Vallee has suggested they are the ancient Indian equivalent of Star Wars [19].

[1] Desmond Leslie and George Adamski, Flying Saucers Have Landed, Werner Laurie, London, 1953, p 90-100

[2]  Jason Colavito, “Vimana Aircraft of India: More Sloppy Research from David Childress”,

[3]  “The Evidence”. Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2010, 15 min

[4] Ibid., 15-21 min

[5] David Hatcher Childress, Vimana, Flying Machines of the Ancients, Adventures Unlimited Press, Illinois, 2013, p 134

[6]  H.S. Mukundas, et al., “A Critical Study of the Work Vymanika Shastra”, Scientific Opinion, 1974, p 11

[7] Nick Redfern, Weapons of the Gods, New Page Books, New Jersey, 2016, p 77-78

[8]  “The Evidence”. op cit., 22-26 min

[9]  Vimina, Flying Machines of the Ancients, op cit., p 218

[10]  Ibid., p 27-28

[11]  Jason Colavito, Ancient Atom Bombs,, 2011  p 10-12

[12] Erich von Daniken, Chariots of the Gods?, Corgi, London, 1972, p 80

[13]  Ancient Atom Bombs, op cit., p 8-9

[14]  Ibid., p 9

[15]  “Alien Power Plants”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2013, 31-32 min

[16]  “The Alien Agenda”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2015, 9-16 min

[17] “Alien Power Plants”, op cit., 31-32 min

[18] Weapons of the Gods, op cit., p 93-95

[19]  Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck, Wonders in the Sky, Jeremy P, Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2009, p 363

The Case Against Ancient Aliens Part Five Ancient Egypt

(In 2017-2018 Ufologist Magazine in Australia published four articles of mine in a series “The Case Against Ancient Aliens”.  The can be found online here. Unfortunately, Ufologist closed down before all my articles could be published, so I will be posting the rest of them on my blog beginning with this one.)

Television documentaries on controversial subjects usually attempt to present both sides, interview experts with different opinions and let the audience draw their own conclusions. In an earlier History Channel series UFO Hunters (2008-2009) one of the presenters often offered a more sceptical non-extra-terrestrial interpretation of the evidence. There is no such objectivity in Ancient Aliens. Apart from a couple of exceptions in the early episodes, there are no interviews with conventional historians or archaeologists who explain how humans could have done these things themselves without the help of aliens.

Ancient aliens believers rely heavily on the logical fallacy, argumentum ad ignorantium, argument from ignorance or appeal to ignorance. Ancient aliens believers claim we do not know how the ancients built something, so aliens must have done it. Actually, a lot of the time archaeologists and historians do have a good idea how they did it, but the ancient aliens believers will not tell you this.

Von Daniken claims that Egyptologists believe ancient Egypt “appears suddenly and without transition with a fantastic ready-made civilisation.”[1] This might sound like aliens had to be involved. Actually, Egyptologists believe Egyptian civilization developed gradually over thousands of years.

Von Daniken writes, “The ancient Egyptians regarded Enoch as the builder of the pyramids.”[2] This would be news to any Egyptologist. Von Daniken’ claim comes from an Arab historian Taki al-Makrizi (1354-1442 AD) who wrote that Enoch, who was also known as Hermes, built the pyramids before the Flood [3].

However, the ancient Egyptians did not know anything about Enoch. They told the Greek historian Herodotus (490-420 BC) that the Pharaoh Cheops built the Great Pyramid in 20 years using 100,000 labourers [4]. They did not say he needed any help from the gods or aliens. The Egyptians did it on their own.

Herodotus may not be completely accurate, but he is definitely more reliable than Taki al-Makrizi who was writing about 1800 years  when they could no longer read hieroglyphics and was repeating later legends with little or no historical value.

Ancient aliens proponents base their argument on the later less reliable source, rather than the earlier more reliable one.

If the ancient Egyptians had built the Great Pyramid from scratch without any precedents, that would be implausible  and would be an argument for alien intervention, but this is not the case.

Early Egyptian mastaba

During the First Dynasty (2920-2770 BC) brick platforms or benches called mastabas were placed over royal tombs. The Third Dynasty Pharaoh Djoser (2630-2611 BC) built the Step Pyramid which was basically six mastabas of decreasing size placed on top of each other with the tomb underneath.

Step Pyramid of Djoser

Sneferu (2575-2551 BC) started to build a seven level step pyramid which he tried to convert into a real pyramid, but it appears to have been abandoned and later collapsed.

Sneferu’s first pyramid attempt

Sneferu began to build a second pyramid, but he did not build it on a firm foundation and it began to sink. Djoser’s Step Pyramid and Sneferu’s first two pyramids had been built with the blocks sloping inward, rather than placed horizontally. This appears to have put too much pressure on the centre of the pyramids and their inner chambers. Sneferu completed his second attempted pyramid by placing the stones horizontally and making the slope less steep, so it came to be called the Bent Pyramid. When he built his third pyramid, the first true pyramid, known as the Red or North Pyramid, the blocks were placed horizontally, making it more stable [5].

Sneferu’s Bent Pyramid

Workers in the Red Pyramid left graffiti behind while they were building. From these, it can be calculated that the pyramid was built in ten years and seven months [6].

The Red Pyramid

The ancient aliens movement tends to ignore Sneferu and focus on his son Khufu’s Great Pyramid, even though Sneferu built three pyramids during his reign and used more stone than in the Great Pyramid [7]. Sneferu clearly did not have aliens helping him. His pyramid building was a case of trial and error, learning from his mistakes until he got it right in the Red Pyramid. His son Khufu (2551-2528 BC) drew on his experience when he built the Great Pyramid.

However, von Daniken claims it was impossible for the Egyptians to have built the great Pyramid without the help of aliens.

“2,600,000 gigantic blocks were cut out of the quarries dressed and transported, and fitted together on the building site to the nearest thousandth of an inch.”[8] “Several hundred thousand workers pushed and pulled blocks weighing 12 tons up a ramp with (non-existent) ropes on (non-existent) rollers. This host of workers lived on (non-existent) grain. They slept in (non-existent) huts which the Pharaoh had built outside his summer palace.” [9]

The evidence says otherwise. As mentioned earlier, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote that it took 100,000 men 10 years to build the ramp to drag the blocks up to the pyramid and another 20 years to build the pyramid itself.

Von Daniken doubts “hundreds of thousands of slaves” could “have lived on the scanty yields of agriculture in the Nile delta.”[10] The Nile was one of the most fertile areas in the ancient world. During the Old Kingdom when the Great Pyramid was built, it supported a population of between 1 and 1.5 million [11].

In spite of what we see in the movies, Egyptologists believe the Great Pyramid was built by conscripts, not slaves. There were probably not “hundreds of thousands” of them as von Daniken claims. They probably did not even need 100,000 as Herodotus claimed. In How the Great Pyramid was Built Craig Smith calculated that 20,000 workers could have built it in 20 years, 10,000 to build it and another 10,000 to support them [12] .

In 1991 archaeologists began excavating the town of the pyramid builders and their tombs near Giza, which von Daniken said did not exist. The site included bakeries and granaries [13].

Archaeologists have also discovered copper tools and their moulds in the workers’ village [14]. Chisel marks can be seen on the stones of the Great Pyramid and in the nearby quarry on the Giza Plateau where about 95% of the stone was quarried [15]. When they were finished, rubble and rubbish were dumped back into the quarry, including stone pounders, ropes and dried mud which as used to lubricate the stones so they moved more easily [16]. No alien tools or parts have been found.

The average stone weighed 2.5 tons, not 12 tons as von Daniken claimed. Some of the stones at the base weigh about 15 tons. The granite stones above the King’s Chamber have been estimated to weigh between 50 and 80 tons [17].

A painting on the wall of a Twelfth Dynasty nobleman Djehutihotep at el-Bersheh shows 172 men pulling a statue which is estimated to weigh about 60 tons. They are using ropes which von Daniken says they did not have and the statue is on a sled, not rollers as von Daniken claimed, but it is still made from the wood which von Daniken says they did not have. Someone is pouring liquid in front of the sled to presumably reduce friction. The Egyptians did not need aliens to help them move 60 tons.

Wall painting from the tomb of Djehutihotep

Some of this “non-existent” rope was found in the boat pit next to the great Pyramid. The ancient Egyptians actually exported rope to other nations [18]. It is true there was not a lot of wood growing in Egypt, so they had to import it from Syria, Lebanon and Sudan [19]. The remains of construction ramps have been found at other pyramids [20].

In 2013 archaeologists discovered the papyrus diary of an Egyptian official Merer which was written in the 26th year of Khufu’s reign. He recorded the transport of limestone blocks by boat from a quarry to Giza [21] .

The Ancient Aliens series has put forward several contradictory theories about the “real” purpose of the Great Pyramid. The episode “Secrets of the Pyramids” suggested the Great Pyramid “acted as a time machine” and was “a gateway or a portal into multiple dimensions that would enable the transmission of people, objects or consciousness from other dimensions into our dimension” [22].

In the episode “Alien Power Plants” Christopher Dunn says the Great Pyramid was used to generate hydrogen and microwaves. Dunn shows how to make hydrogen in a laboratory which only shows one does not need a 146 metre high pyramid to make hydrogen [23].

In the episode “Aliens and Temples of Gold” they say, “It is possible that the Giza Pyramid was actually used to transmute other elements into gold.” [24]

Hydrogen, gold, which was it?

In another episode “Destination Orion” they say it was a star gate to travel back and forth to Orion [25].

In his 1980 book The Stairway to Heaven  Zecharia Sitchin says the Great Pyramid contained “guidance and communications equipment” and was used as a beacon for spaceships to land in the Sinai [26].

We do not need to build 146 metre high pyramids for our space shuttles to land in the right place. Surely surrounding communication equipment with millions of tons of rock would interfere with the signal. A radio tower would be more effective.

In his 1985 book The Wars of Gods and Men Sitchin said the Great Pyramid as later used to imprison the alien Marduk [27].

Then there is Joseph Farrell, author of The Giza Death Star, The Giza Death Star Deployed and The Giza Death Star Destroyed, which I have not read, but I get the idea.

The Ancient Aliens episode “Secrets of the Pyramids” draws attention to pyramids elsewhere in the world, including Sudan, India, Iraq, Mexico, China, Mauritius, Peru, Bolivia, Indonesia and Cambodia and suggest that the “similar building style” means ancient peoples “learned how to build these pyramids from the same teachers.”[28] They ask, “Is it possible the thousands of pyramids scattered across the globe were once part of a cohesive network?”[29]

No. If pyramids around the world were part of a cohesive network, one would expect them to be of the same design and to have been built around the same time. The Great Pyramid was built around 2550 BC. Many ancient aliens proponents and alternative historians claim it was built thousands of years earlier. The Mayans began to build their pyramids during their Terminal Preclassic Period (100-250 AD), over 2500 years after the Great Pyramid. They cannot be part of the same global network.

Mayan pyramid at Tikal

Furthermore, the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids were really not that similar. The Mayan pyramids have steps going up to their flat tops where there was a temple. It does not look like they had a common origin or the same teachers, any more than buildings around the world with doorways and pillars would suggest a common origin.

The Ancient Aliens episode “The Evidence” and “Alien Power Plants” suggest the Great Pyramid was part of a global energy network which used obelisks to transmit energy through the atmosphere [30]. They say, “And some believe the Great Pyramid in conjunction with the obelisks made up what may have been a global wireless energy network.” [31].The Egyptian obelisks, which are shown on Ancient Aliens, were erected in the 18th and 19th Dynasties, about 1000 years after the Great Pyramid. They could not have been part of the same network.

In the episode “The Evidence” David Hatcher Childress also suggests that the obelisks would have needed a water turbine to generate the electricity. They show a computer-generated image of an obelisk by the Nile connected to a turbine and beaming energy into the atmosphere [32]. Obelisks were usually placed in pairs in front of temples, not by the Nile. No evidence of any ancient turbines have been found. If the obelisks needed turbines to transmit electricity and there is no evidence of any turbines, there is no evidence the obelisks transmitted electricity. The inscriptions on the obelisks usually tell of the achievements of the Pharaoh, but they do not say anything like, “Beware! High Voltage!”

Archaeologists have found tools made of wood, stone and copper, but no power tools or machines, which ran on electricity, or spare parts. There are no depictions of such things on the wall of Egyptian tombs of machines which used electricity. They support the archaeological evidence which portrays Egyptian life as more primitive.

The Ancient Aliens episode “Alien Power Plants” claims there is a depiction of a person holding a large light bulb on the walls of the Temple of Hathor in the Dendera complex. They suggest it was powered by the electricity produced by the Great Pyramid [33] . The Temple of Hathor was built over 2000 years after the Great Pyramid during the Greco-Roman period. The so-called Dendera bulb is too big to be a hand held light bulb. It looks over two metres long and would probably blind the person holding it. There is a serpent inside the “bulb”. The actually appears to represent an Egyptian creation myth in which the lotus plant is the first thing to emerge from the primordial sea and out of the lotus came the god Atum who was represented as a snake[34].

The episode “Alien Power Plants” also mentions the Baghdad Batteries. These are three clay jars containing an iron rod inside a copper cylinder. Some believe they are primitive batteries although most archaeologists doubt it. Even if they are batteries, aliens would not make batteries out of clay jars. Furthermore, they are dated to the Parthian period (250 BC – 224 AD), so they could not have anything to do with the Great Pyramid’s supposed energy network 2500 years earlier. Like the Antikythera Device, the Baghdad Batteries may prove that people in the ancient world were more intelligent than we usually credit them, but they are not evidence for ancient aliens.

In another episode “Secrets of the Tombs” they show us the Serapeum of Saqqara near Memphis in which the sacred bulls were buried. The section known as the Greater Vault was used from the beginning of the 26th Dynasty (664 BC) until the Roman period. It contains 24 stone sarcophagi which weighed up to 70 tons. When the sacred bull died, it was entombed, the chamber was walled up, a stela recorded the date and a new bull was found. However, Ancient Aliens asks,

“Are these really some kind of interdimensional stargates and the extraterrestrials are able to come and go from this planet using them?”

“Were the Serapeum sarcophagi actually a teleportation system, as some ancient astronaut theorists believe? Could they be a series of chambers used to convey ancient humans and perhaps alien visitors to other planets?” [35]

Ancient alien star gate?

These are just stone sarcophagi. There is no trace of any alien technology to operate the supposed stargates. There are no hieroglyphics saying, “This way to the stargate.” They do not tell us how anyone could have got out of the sarcophagi stargates since they were walled up. This speculation only proves that the producers of Ancient Aliens have watched Stargate SG-1.  Ancient aliens believers cannot blame conventional archaeologists and historians for ignoring them when they say things like this.


[1]  Erich von Daniken, Chariots of the Gods?, Corgi, London, 1971, p 96

[2] Erich von Daniken, Return of the Gods, Element Books, Dorset, 1998, p 184

[3] Ibid., p 59

[4] Herodotus, The Histories, 2:124-125

[5] Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, Thames and Hudson, London, 1997, p 102-103

[6] John Romer, The Great Pyramid, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, p 71

[7] The Complete Pyramids, op cit., p 97

[8] Chariots of the Gods?. op cit., p 100

[9] Ibid., p 101

[10] Chariots of the Gods?. op cit., p 97

[11] Gae Callender, Egypt in the Old Kingdom: An Introduction, Longmans, South Australia, 1998, p 115

[12]  Craig Smith, How the Great Pyramid was Built, Smithsonian Books, Washington DC, 2004, p 206

[13] Zahi Hawass, Mountains of the Pharaohs, Doubleday, New York, 2006, p 158-166

[14] How the Great Pyramid Was Built, op cit., p 134-135

[15] The Great Pyramid, op cit., p 100-101, 106-111,202-204

[16] Ibid., p 205-206

[17] The Complete Pyramids, op cit., p 108-109

[18]  How the Great Pyramid Was Built, op cit., p 133

[19] How the Great Pyramid Was Built, op cit., p 49-50, 82

[20] The Complete Pyramids, op cit., p 217

[21]  Tallet, P., and Marouand, G., The Harbor of Khufu on the Red Sea Coast at Wadi al-Jarf, Egypt, Near Eastern Archaeology 77 (1): 4-14, 2014

[22] “Secrets of the Pyramids”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2012, 41 min

[23]  “Alien Power Plants”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2013, 19-20 min

[24]  “Aliens and the Temple of Gold”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2011, 19 min

[25] “Destination Orion”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2013, 10-12 min

[26]  Zecharia Sitchin, The Stairway to Heaven, Harper, New York, 2007, p 384

[27]  Zecharia Sitchin, The Wars of Gods and Men, Harper New York, 2007, p 202-228

[28] “Secrets of the Pyramids”, op cit., 4 mins

[29]  Ibid., 16-17 mins

[30]  “The Evidence”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2010, 77-82 min, “Alien Power Plants”, op cit., 13-29 min

[31] “Alien Power Plants”, op cit., 28 min

[32]  “The Evidence”, op cit., 80-81 min

[33] “Alien Power Plants”, op cit., 21 min

[34] Nick Redfern, Weapons of the Gods, New Page Books, New Jersey, 2016, p 141-142

[35]  “Secrets of the Tombs”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2013, 13 min