The Maria Orsic Hoax

The truth about Maria Orsic, the Vril Society and ancient aliens from Aldebaran.

While I was researching the connections between the Nazi esoteric beliefs and modern beliefs about Atlantis and ancient aliens, which I have written about here,  I came across references to Maria Orsic, an Austrian Medium and member of the Vril Society. In 1919 Maria claimed to have received telepathic messages from the planet Sumi-Er in the Aldebaran solar system, about 68 light years from Earth. These messages said that the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia had come from Aldebaran 500 million years ago and the Aryans were their descendants.

I did not believe that aliens from Aldebaran really had communicated with Maria Orsic, but it did look like I had come across evidence for belief in the ancient aliens theory in pre-Nazi Germany.

I soon realized the story of Maria Orsic is a hoax.

There are a lot of dodgy and unreliable claims about the Nazis and the occult. In my research I had come across numerous references to the Vril Society. According to Michael Fitzgerald, its members included Hitler, Hess, Goering and Himmler (Michael FitzGerald, The Nazi Occult War, Hinkler, Victoria, 2013, p 40).  I assumed they were a real group, like the Thule Society whose members included Nazi leaders Rudolf Hess and Hans Frank. However, some doubt that there ever was a Vril Society. Wikipedia says, “there is no evidence for the existence of such a society.”

The name comes from a 1871 novel The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1871). This is the story of a man who discovers an advanced underground civilization which is powered by an energy source called Vril which gave it inhabitants telepathic powers.

This was taken seriously by Helena Blatavsky, founder of Theosophy in her books Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888). Another Theosophist William Scott-Elliot wrote in his 1896 book The Story of Atlantis  that the Atlanteans’ airships were powered by Vril energy (W. Scott-Elliot, The Story of Atlantis, Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1896, p 51-54). In Germany an Aryanized version of Theosophy developed, called Ariosophy.

Willy Ley, a former German rocket scientist, wrote in a 1947 article “Pseudoscience in Naziland” that there had been a group in Berlin which believed in Vril.

In a 2002 book Black Sun, Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, Nicholas Goodrick-Clark says that there was a Vril society,

“German researchers have recently established that such a group did exist in association with the astrological publisher Wilhelm Becker. This wholly obscure “Reichsarbeitsgemeinschaft ‘Das Kommende Deutschland'” published a short brochure Vril: Die kosmische Urkraft (1930), which described the Atlanteans as possessors of a spiritual “dynamo-technology”, superior to the mechanistic notions of modern technology, Based on Vril energy, this technology also enabled the Egyptians and Aztecs to build their pyramids.” (Nicholas Goodrick-Clark, Black Sun, Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, New York, 2002, p 166)

While it does appear there was some sort of Vril society or society which believed in Vril, there is no evidence it was as influential as some claim. They are making it up. Vril: Die kosmische Urkraft , which can be read in German here, says nothing about Maria Orsic.

In an article The Vril Mythos Shannon LeGro writes that two Austrians Norbert Jurgen-Ratthofer and Ralf Ettl wrote a book The Vril Project in 1992 which contained the first mention of Maria Orsic and Aldebaran . Ettl was a member of the Temple Society in Vienna, a Gnostic group which was founded by neo-Nazis and claimed to be successors to the Knights Templars. The origin of the Maria Orsic story is also described by Nicholas Goodrick-Clark (Black Sun, p 164-169).

The Vril Project has not been published in English. However, in 1994 Jurgen-Ratthofer and Ettl  made a  “documentary” called U.F.O. Secrets of the Third Reich which claims that  the Vril Society was founded in 1919 and Maria Ortisch, who was played by Simone Bernhard in the dramatizations, received telepathic messages from Aldebaran. These included instructions to build a time machine which was not completed, but were the inspiration for the Nazi flying discs which were first built in 1934. This documentary can be found on YouTube.

If the Nazis really had this advanced flying disc technology which they received from aliens, one wonders how they could have lost the war. Claims that the Nazis had built the original flying saucers have been around since the 1950s. A critique of these claims can be found here. Before the Maria Orsic story the claims were that the Nazis had built these flying discs themselves. Some of these came from neo-Nazis who were trying to show how advanced the Nazis were. Much in the same way that the ancient aliens theory assumes that people in the ancient world could not build ancient monuments and buildings themselves and needed the help of aliens, the Maria Orsic story assumes the Nazis could not build their own flying discs and needed the help of aliens

Subsequent writers, websites and documentaries built on and embellished the Maria Orsic – Aldebaran story, such as The Aldebaran Mystery, UFO Secrets of the 3rd Reich and World War II and the Ancient Aliens episode “Aliens and the Third Reich” which claim that Maria was taken on a spaceship to Aldebaran at the end of the war. This sounds like an attempt to explain why there is no evidence for her existence.

The 1994 documentary U.F.O. Secrets of the Third Reich contained this drawing of what Maria Orsic was supposed to look like.

This sketch appears to be  based on the 1994 original

The photo  below is supposed to be of Maria Orsic

It appears that the face from the second picture was superimposed onto this photo and then reversed. I do not know who the woman in original photo is.

Then, there is this supposed photo of Maria Orsic.

This is a woman’s face superimposed on a photo of Hitler. Here is the original.

[After I had posted this, someone said the woman’s face in the above photo is Kate Moss.]

If you search for photos of Maria Orsic on the Internet, the results include

Nena von Schlebrugge (b, 1941), a former model who is  Uma Thrman’s mother

Chalize Theron in Prometheus

Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge in Downfall

and Claudia Black, star of Farscape and Stargate SG 1

There is no evidence from before 1992 for the existence of Maria Orsic or the claims the Vril Society were in contact with aliens from Aldebaran.

The Case Against Ancient Aliens Part Eight Easter Island, The Piri Reis Map and Ancient Art

(This is the final of a series of articles which were intended to be published in the Australian magazine Ufologist. Unfortunately, the magazine was cancelled after the first four were published.)

Easter Island

Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean contains over 800 large statues or moai, about half of which are unfinished. The documentary Chariots of the Gods? says that “many of those stone colossi stand 65 feet high and weigh nearly 400 tons.” [1]

Actually, the average weight of a statue was about 10 tons. The heaviest completed statue weighs 87 tons and there is an unfinished statue which weighs about 270 tons [2].

Von Daniken doubts the Easter Islanders could have created them,

“No trees grow on the island, which is a tiny speck of volcanic stone. The usual speculation, that the stone giants were moved to their present sites on giant wooden rollers, is not feasible on this case, either. In addition, the island can scarcely have provided food for more than 2000 inhabitants. (A few hundred natives lives on Easter Island today.) A shipping trade, which brought food and clothing for stonemasons, is hardly credible in antiquity. Then who cut the statues out of the rock, who carved and transported them to their sites? How were they moved across country for miles without rollers?” [3]

In the Ancient Aliens episode “The Monoliths” von Daniken says, “They look like robots.”[4] Really?

In 1958 Thor Heyerdahl published Aku-Aku, an account of his investigation of Easter Island. This book appears in the bibliography of Chariots of the Gods? [5]. Von Daniken writes,

“Heyerdahl discovered hundreds of unfinished statues near rock faces and on the edges of craters, thousands of stone implements, simple stone axes, lay around as if the work had been abandoned quite suddenly.” [6]

Von Daniken does not tell his readers how Heyerdahl asked the Easter Islanders to show how their ancestors carved, transported and raised the statues. Heyerdahl writes,

“To tackle the problem at its root we first studied the numerous uncompleted figures which lay on the ledges in the quarry itself. It was clear the work had been broken off suddenly; thousands of primitive unpolished stone picks still lay in the open-air workshop, and as different groups of sculptors had worked simultaneously on many different statues, all stages of carving were represented.” [7]

The Easter Islanders showed him how they carved the statues using stone tools. They estimated it would have taken six men about a year to carve a statue [8]. Twelve men were able to raise a fallen 25 to 30 ton statue using stones and wooden levers in 18 days [9] and 180 men were able to drag a 12 ton statue without any sled or rollers [10]. They did not need any help from aliens.

The Easter Islanders believed the moai “walked” to their locations, rather than being dragged along the ground. In a 2011 National Geographic sponsored expedition 18 people with three ropes were able to move an upright five ton moai replica, compared with Heyerdahl’s 180 men dragging a 12 ton statue [11]. If the original moai had bene moved upright, this could explain the belief that they walked.

Furthermore, while there are no trees on Easter Island today, this was not the case in the past, Jared Diamond writes,

“However, several methods for recovering remains of vanished plants have shown within the last few decades that, for hundreds of thousands of years before human arrival and still during the early days of human settlement, Easter was not a barren wasteland but a subtropical forest of tall trees and wooden bushes.” [12]

Diamond also writes that estimates of Easter Island’s earlier population range from 6000 to 30,000 [13]. They clearly had the population resources to carve, transport and raise the statues.

In his book In Search of Ancient Gods von Daniken suggested,

“Alien cosmonauts supplied the original islanders with sophisticated technical tools that priests or magicians could use. They freed the masses from the lava and shaped them. Then the alien visitors disappeared.” [14]

The natives tried to keep making the statues using stone tools but they could not. Von Daniken continues,

“In opposition to Heyerdahl’s theory I consider the discovery of hand-axes as proof that the work could not have been carried out with these tools.” [15]

Finding stone tools near unfinished statues somehow proves the statues were not carved by these stone tools, but by imaginary alien technology which has not been found.

It was not the case that the Islanders tried to carve some statues, but gave up. For some reason their construction process just stopped, including statues which were nearly finished. They even stopped transporting some finished statues [16].

The Piri Reis Map

In Chariots of the Gods? von Daniken writes.

“At the beginning of the eighteenth century ancient maps which had belonged to an officer in the Turkish Navy, Admiral Piri Reis were found in the Topkapi Palace … The maps were absolutely accurate” [17] and showed Antarctica under the ice.

Von Daniken writes.

“The latest studies of Professor Charles H. Hapgood and the mathematician Richard W. Strachan give us more shattering information. Comparison with modern photographs of a globe taken from satellites showed that the origins of Piri Reis’s maps must have been aerial photographs taken from a very great height.” [18]

He suggests they were taken by a spaceship hovering high above Cairo [19].

There is only one Piri Reis map which was discovered in 1929 and it is not “absolutely accurate” as von Daniken claims. In his book Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings Charles Hapgood, whom von Daniken cited, points out that half of Cuba, which is misidentified as Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) is missing, the Amazon River has been drawn twice, there were two equators and about 900 miles of South America is missing [20].

In spite of the impression, which von Daniken gives, Hapgood did not believe the map was the product of aerial photography. He writes that “the drawing of the mountains indicates that they were observed from the sea – from coastal shipping – and not imagined.” [21]

Hapgood did believe the map showed Antarctica under the ice. However, the Piri Reis map does not appear to show Antarctica at all. The 800 kilometre wide Drake Passage, which separates Antarctica from South America, is missing. What Hapgood and ancient aliens believers claim is ice-free Antarctica is the south east coast of South America which has been bent ninety degrees [22].

Ancient aliens in rock art?

Unusual looking beings can be seen in ancient rock art found around the world. Ancient aliens believers claim they are portrayals of alien visitors in the distant past. Some of these beings are wearing what are supposed to be space helmets with antenna [23].

Von Daniken’s In Search of Ancient Gods [24] and the documentary Chariots of the Gods? [25] reproduce what they claim is rock art from Uzbekistan clearly showing a being in a spacesuit with two antenna holding a gun with a flying saucer overhead. This is not ancient rock art. It is copied from an illustration from an article about ancient aliens in the June 1967 issue of the Soviet magazine Sputnik [26] .

Ancient rock art of aliens according to Erich von Daniken
The original picture

Moreover, antenna may stick out of space helmets in juvenile science fiction and cartoons, but not out of the helmets of real life astronauts. They would probably get in the way and break off.

In The Space Gods Revealed and Guardians of the Universe? Ronald Story suggests that authentic rock paintings show people wearing animal masks and costumes for ritual dances [27]. The so-called antenna would only be the antlers or horns of local animals which the masks they are wearing represent. Australian Aboriginal rock art sometimes portray strange beings which ancient aliens believers claim are aliens [28], but they rarely, if ever, have “antenna” because there are no native animals with antlers.

Most anthropologists now believe that ancient rock art portrays what tribal shamans or medicine men saw during trance states which were often drug induced. In his book Supernatural Graham Hancock describes how he experimented on himself with hallucinogenic plans. (Don’t try this at home!) His visions included lots of snakes, grey beings with black eyes similar to those seen by UFO abductees, flying saucers and a man with the head of a crocodile resembling the Egyptian god Sobek [29].

Half-human, half-animal beings, which are called therianthropes, are common in rock art, appearing in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. They also appear in Greek, Egyptian and other myths.  The Ancient Aliens episode “Aliens and Bigfoot” claims that the Egyptian gods Anubis, who was portrayed as a jackal’s head on a human body, and Thoth, an ibis head on a human body, were real and were created by aliens [30]. In the episode “Mysteries of the Sphinx” they say Anubis was an alien, not one of their creations [31] .

People in the 21st century are taking the absurd idea of a man with a dog’s head literally and assume it to be true. The ancient Egyptians may have portrayed their gods as having animal heads, but they did not believe the gods really looked like that, Erik Hornung writes,

“No thinking Egyptian would have imagined that the true form of Amun was a man with a ram’s head. Amun is the divine power that may be seen in the image of a man, among many others, as Horus showed himself in the image of a hawk whose wings span the sky and Anubis in the image of the black canine (“jackal”) … None of these images shows the true form of a god, and none can encompass the full richness of his nature – hence the variable iconography of Egyptian gods, which is seldom reduced to a fixed, canonical form.”[32]

The producers of Ancient Aliens would have us believe these are representations of aliens or hybrids created by aliens. Hancock’s experiments and the research of anthropologists suggest it is more plausible that they are representations of what ancient humans saw during trance states.

[1] Chariots of the Gods, Terra-Filmkunst, 1970, 67 min

[2] Jared Diamond, Collapse, Allen Lane, Victoria, 2005, p 96

[3] Erich von Daniken, Chariots of the Gods?, Corgi, London, 1971, p 114

[4]  “The Monoliths”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2013, 26 min

[5] Chariots of the Gods?. op cit., p 182

[6] Ibid., p 114

[7] Thor Heyerdahl, Aku-Aku, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1958, p 87

[8]  Ibid., p 135-136

[9] Ibid., p 145-148

[10]  Ibid., p 150-151

[11] Hannah Bloch, “Easter Island Quest’, National Geographic, Vol. 222, No. 1, July 2012, p 47-48

[12]  Collapse, op cit., p 102-103

[13]  Ibid., p 91

[14]  Erich von Daniken, In Search of Ancient Gods, Corgi, London, 1975, p 113

[15]  Ibid., p 114

[16]  Aku-Aku, op cit., p 92

[17]  Chariots of the Gods?. op cit., p 29

[18]  Ibid., p 30

[19] Ibid

[20] Charles Hapgood, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Adventures Unlimited Press, Illinois, 1996, p 30, 61

[21] Ibid., p 68

[22]  Cuoghi, D., The Mysteries of the Piri Reis Map,

[23] In Search of Ancient Gods, op cit., p 59

[24]  Ibid., p 64-65

[25] Chariots of the Gods?, op cit., 85 min

[26] Jason Colavito, “Faking Ancient Art in Uzbekistan”,

[27] Ronald Story, The Space Gods Revealed, New English Library, London, 1978, p 287, Ronald Story, Guardians of the Universe?, New English Library, London, 1981, p 85-87

[28]  In Search of Ancient Gods, op cit., p 62, 178, 189

[29] Graham Hancock, Supernatural, Arrow Books, London, 2006, p 58-75

[30] “Aliens and Bigfoot”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2012

[31] “Mysteries of the Sphinx”, Ancient Aliens, History Channel, 2014

[32] Eric Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt, Cornell University Press, New York, 1996, p 124-125

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”,