Ancient Alien Theory

Nazca Lines
The ancient alien theory, popularized by Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Goods? has attracted a lot of attention over the last four decades. Many of the so-called proofs of extraterrestrial visits to Earth in ancient times have, however, a “reasonable“ explanation, while the others open the question of the existence of a yet undiscovered, highly advanced ancient civilization.

What is Ancient Alien Theory

The ancient alien theory has been all over the media lately. It claims that the ancient civilizations have been visited by extraterrestrials giving them the knowledge and technology to build some of the greatest architectural wonders in human history. The proponents of the theory point out records of human encounter with the beings that descended from the sky in ancient literature as well as physical evidence that can be found all over the world. Are they right or is the ancient alien theory just a fantasy fueled by the everlasting human desire to be a part of something greater? To be able to answer that question, it is necessary to take a closer look of the so-called evidence of extraterrestrial visits to Earth.

Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods

The theory about ancient civilizations being visited by extraterrestrial beings attracted attention worldwide in 1968 when the Swiss author Erich von Däniken published his book Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past. In his book which immediately became a bestseller, Däniken laid the foundation of what came to be known as the ancient alien theory by supporting his claims with “evidence“ many of which remain in the center of the theory including the Nazca lines in Peru, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the sarcophagus of the Mayan ruler Pakal, the Moai statues on the Easter Island, Stonehenge, Piri Reis map, the mythological flying machines called the Viamanas, Ezekiel’s revelation in the Old Testament and numerous ancient artistic depictions resembling humanoid-like creatures and air vehicles.

Construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza

Most mainstream historians reject the ancient alien theory although they do not have all the answers either. In fact, most of the so-called proofs of human contact with extraterrestrial creatures in ancient times remain a mystery including the Great Pyramid of Giza. The largest of all pyramids in Egypt is one of the most intensively researched structures in the world but it is still not exactly known how the ancient Egyptians managed to move and place the giant stones into place. The proponents of ancient alien theory also emphasize that it was physically impossible to built it in two decades using the existing technology and huge labor force. The Great Pyramid of Giza is estimated to be built of 2.3 million blocks which means that its builders had to cut, transport and put into place more 12 blocks per hour day and night to complete the pyramid in 20 years. This seems a lot but it could have been done with huge labor force and the discovery of worker’s camps near the pyramids implies that that is how the Great Pyramid of Giza was built.

Nazca Lines and Puma Punku

The archaeological sites in the Americas such as the Nazca lines in Peru and Puma Punku in Bolivia are even a greater mystery than the Egyptian pyramids. The Nazca lines, a series of ancient lines and figures were without a doubt created for someone “above“ because they are visible only from the sky. What was their purpose remains a matter of debate but there are several theories other than the ancient alien theory. One of the most widely accepted explanations for the Nazca lines is that they were a part of religious practices. Puma Punku, an ancient temple about a mile from the famous archaeological site of Tiwanaku near Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, is a completely different story. The temple that is today in ruins is not as old as claimed as by the ancient alien theorists as radiocarbon dating places it to about 530 AD, however, the scholars cannot explain how the Pre-Inca culture that built the temple managed to cut the stones with machine-like precision and fit the giant stones so perfectly that even a razor blade cannot be inserted between them.

Prehistoric Cave Paintings depicting “Extraterrestrials”

Ancient artworks which are claimed to prove that our planet has been visited by extraterrestrials thousands of years ago are even more open to interpretation. Let’s take for example the prehistoric cave paintings depicting “extraterrestrials“. They may look like extraterrestrial creatures but we must not forget that we do not know how they should supposed to look like. The humanoid-like beings with large eyes as most of us tend to imagine alien intelligent life form as well as the flying saucers were created by Hollywood. The sarcophagus of Pakal which supposedly represents the Mayan ruler sitting in a rocket does not prove the ancient alien theory either. Scholars believe that it depicts Pakal descending into the Maya underworld, while most people probably would not see a “rocket“ unless told where to look.

Flying Vessels in the Book of Ezekiel and Sanskrit Epics

Further evidence that support the ancient alien theory are supposed to be found in ancient religious texts, in the first place in The Book of Ezekiel and Sanskrit epics (Vimanas) suggesting that the ancient people saw flying vessels. Although they are not accepted as proof of extraterrestrial visits to Earth, the traditional religious view (with no disrespect to religious people) does not offer any better explanation either. There are, however, two further possible explanations for the flying vessels in ancient religious text: hallucinations of an influential individual misinterpreted as supernatural experience or the existence of a highly advanced civilization in ancient times.

A Lost, Highly Advanced Ancient Civilization?

The idea of a civilization having knowledge and technology to fly thousands of years ago perhaps seems even more unbelievable than the Earth being visited by extraterrestrials. On the other hand, there are many myths and legends about the existence of highly advanced civilizations that had been destroyed (Atlantis, for instance). There are also physical evidence of advanced ancient technology such as the Baghdad Battery which has been speculated to be used for electricity generation and even a computer known as Antikythera mechanism that is estimated to date between 150 and 100 BC. Both artifacts are found on the list of proofs of the ancient alien theory, however, they seem to be too “primitive“ for extraterrestrial intelligent form with technology to travel in space.

Ancient Aviators

Whether the ancient people had the knowledge to generate electricity and built computers or were taught to do so by visitors from other planets, they most certainly dreamt about flying and may even built flying devices that actually flew. A Roman author Aulus Gellius (ca. 125-180 BC) reports that an ancient Greek mathematician, philosopher, astronomer and statesman Archytas (428-347 BC) designed and built a bird-shaped flying device out of wood which is said to have flown. And if Archytas did it, could there had been earlier flying devices? If so, Däniken chariots were perhaps flown by humans rather than extraterrestrials.

The Mysterious Piri Reis Map

The Piri Reis map, named after the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis (1465/1470-1554/55) is one of the greatest mysteries in history. The surviving part of the map of world that was been compiled in 1513 shows an astonishingly accurate coastline of the Americas when it had not been yet explored by the Europeans and a detailed map of Arctic region more three centuries before its discovery. This means that the Piri Reis map must have been based on an ancient source that has been lost. But thus this prove an existence of technologically advanced ancient civilization or extraterrestrial visits to Earth, or perhaps both? The mainstream historians are divided about the source of the Piri Reis map but most of them believe that it is too accurate for that time.

Göbekli Tepe

In 1994, a local shepherd in southeastern Turkey found what turned out to be one of the most amazing archaeological discoveries in modern history - Göbekli Tepe. The site is currently still undergoing excavation but there is no doubt that it is the oldest advanced site in the world. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the complex is about 12,000 years old which means that it is almost 7,000 years older than the ancient Mesopotamia long heralded as the world’s earliest civilization. It remains unknown who built Göbekli Tepe and for what purpose, while 19 (5,8 meters) feet high monolithic pillars weighting 15 tons were carved by skilled masons using advanced tools. Interestingly, no stone cutting tools have been found so far at the site.


The ancient alien theory as well as the idea of a lost, technologically sophisticated ancient civilization seem exiting but at the moment of writing there are not enough evidence to support either of both theories. On the other hand, many archaeological finds all over the world do suggest existence of highly advanced civilizations at very early periods, while new discoveries such as Göbekli Tepe imply that we may have to radically change our understanding of ancient history in the future.