Giorgio Tsoukalos tells porky pies about Herodotus and the Great Pyramid in Ancient Aliens The Official Companion Handbook

Giorgio Tsoukalos is a presenter on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. He is the one with the funny hair and the subject of several Internet memes.

He reminds me of  the alien Londo Mollari, played by Peter Jurasik, from the 1990s science fiction series Babylon 5.

In my earlier blog The Case Against Ancient Aliens Part Five Ancient Egypt I looked at the ancient aliens movement’s claims about ancient Egypt and the building of the pyramids. Since then, I have read Ancient Aliens, The Official Companion Handbook which features contributions by Giorgio Tsoukalos, Erich von Daniken and other presenters on Ancient Aliens.

In his chapter “The Egyptian Connection” Tsoukalos claims that the ancient Egyptian texts say that the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid with the help of the “Guardians of the Sky”,

“There is absolutely no doubt that the Great Pyramids of Giza were built by human beings. The ancient  Egyptians did it. However, what the ancient Egyptian texts also tell us is that the Egyptians did it with the assistance of “The Guardians of the Sky”, as the texts call them.” (Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, “The Egyptian Connection”, Ancient Aliens, The Official Companion Handbook, Harper Collins, New York, 2016, p 14)

The only “ancient Egyptian text” which mentions the construction if the Great Pyramid is the Diary of Merer which was discovered in 2013. It records the transports of stones to Giza during the 26th year of the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (c. 2589-2566 BC). It does not say anything about the Guardians of the Sky.

Tsoukalos also says that the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 490-420 BC) wrote that the Great Pyramid was not built by Cheops, the Greek name for Khufu, but by a king called Saurid  who had the help of the Guardians of the Sky who were aliens,

“What we’re being told by modern-day archaeology or by modern-day Egyptology is different  from  what the ancient Egyptians wrote down. For example, the Greek historian Herodotus said that the pyramids were built by the Egyptians, but with the assistance of the Guardians of the Sky. In fact, according to Herodotus, the Egyptians credited a king named Saurid rathe than the pharaoh Cheops. And Saurid is the one who built the pyramids alongside the Guardians of the Sky. He was the master builder and he instructed his people on all the details on how to build pyrmaids. But according to some ancient Egyptian historians, he recorded all this knowledge from the Guardians of the Sky, and, according to ancient astronaut theory, these guardians were nothing else but space travellers.” (Ancient Aliens, The Official Companion Handbook, p 15)

This is what Herodotus wrote about the construction of the Great Pyramid in the widely available Penguin Classics edition,

“Up to the time of Rhampsinitus, Egypt was excellently governed and very propserous; but his successor Cheops (to continue the account which the priests gave me) brought the county into all sorts of misery. He closed all the temples, then, not content with excluding his subjects from the practice of their religion, compelled them without exception to labour as slaves for his own advantage. Some were forced to drag blocks of stone from the quarries in the Arabian hills to the Nile, where they were ferried across and taken by others, who  hauled them to the Libyan hills. The work went on in three-monthly shifts, a hundred thousand men in a shift. It took ten years of oppressive slave-labour  to build the track along which the blocks were hauled – a work in my opinion, of hardly less magnitude than the pyramid itself, for it is five furlongs in length, sixty feet wide, forty-eight feet high at its highest point, and constructed of polished stone blocks with carvings of animals. To build it took, as I said, ten years – including the underground sepulchral chambers on the hill where the pyramids stand; a cut was made for the Nile, so that the water turned the site of these into an island. To build the pyramid itself took twenty years; it is square at the base, its height (800 feet) equal to the length of each side; it is of polished stone blocks beautifully fitted, none of the blocks less than  thirty feet long. The method employed was to build it in steps, or as some called them, krossai or platforms. When the base was complete, the blocks for the first tier above it were lifted from the ground by contrivances made of short timbers; on this first tier there was another, which raised the blocks a stage higher, then yet another which raised them higher still. Each tier, or storey, had its set of levers, or it may be that they used the same one, which being easy to carry, they shifted up from stage to stage as soon as its load was dropped into place. Both methods are mentioned, so I give them both here. The finishing off of the pyramid was begun at the top and continued downwards, with the lowest parts nearest the ground. An inscription is cut upon it in Egyptian characters recording the amount spent on radishes, onions, and leeks for the labourers, and I remember distinctly that the interpreter who read me the inscription said the sum was 1600 talents of silver. But if this is true, how much more must have been spent in addition on tools,  and bread and clothing for  the labourers during all those years the building was going on – not to mention the time it took (not  alitltle, I should think) to quarry and haul the stone, and to construct the underground chamber?”(Herodotus, The Histories, 2:124-125, Aubrey de Selincourt (translator), Penguin Classics, London, 1972, p 146-147)

Herodotus then relates dubious story about how Cheops pimped out his daughter in a brothel to fund the pyramid, a stone for a turn (Herodotus, The Histories 2:126)

Egyptologists do not believe Herodotus’ account was completely accurate. Most believe the stones were raised by ramps, rather than  wooden levers. Nevertheless, Tsoukalos’ claims about Herodotus are just wrong, the opposite of what he clearly wrote. Tsoukalos said that Herodotus did not say that Cheops built the Great Pyramid, but Saurid did with the help of the Guardians of the Sky. Herodotus write that Cheops built it  and said nothing about Saurid  and the Guardians of the Sky.

To paraphrase another Ancient Aliens presenter, David Hatcher Childress, you have to wonder if Giorgio Tsoukalos has ever read Herodotus.

Moreover, Tsoukalos did not make these claims in some amateurish self-published book. It was published by Harper Collins, one of the world’s biggest publishers. I would have thought they had an editor or proof-reader, someone who knew something about ancient history.

About 1600 years after Herodotus an Arab writer Ibrahim ibn Wasif Shah wrote that Surid built the Great Pyramid before the Flood. This is not an “ancient Egyptian text.” It is a medieval Arab text, written when people could no longer read Egyptian hieroglyphics and did not know much about ancient Egyptian history. His work has been lost, but it was quoted by another Arab writer Al-Maqrizi (.1364-1442)

As a rule, historians regard earlier historical sources as more reliable than later ones. There is less time  for the account to become embellished and distorted. No historian places any value on Ibrahim ibn Wasif Shah’s account of Surid. It is an Arab myth. Still, neither his account, nor any other ancient Egyptian or medieval Arab text, mention the “Guardians of the Sky”. Tsoukalos appears to have them up.

This is why mainstream academics do not take the ancient aliens theory seriously.