Since primitive humans first crawled out of their caves and gazed up in awe at the star-filled night, humankind has been intrigued by the unexplained mysteries of the universe. Early myths and legends tell of mysterious objects roaring across the heavens. Scraps of ancient documents reveal phenomenal, unexplained manifestations in the skies. Virtually every religion relates visitations from angels, demons, devils, and gods who descended to Earth in ancient times.

With the highly publicized arrival of the "flying saucers" in the earth's atmosphere in 1947, modern humans were confronted with what they thought was a new celestial mystery. However, in their efforts to interpret this phenomenon, a band of scholarly individuals dug through old documents and musty records and discovered that the UFO phenomenon had appeared periodically throughout history. Gradually, some UFOlogists believed humankind's gods, angels, devils, and demons were nothing more than alien visitors from some superior civilization on some far planet in a dark corner of the universe.

The hypothesis of ancient astronauts received its most popular expression in Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods? (1970), which led to the formation of an international Ancient Astronaut Society in 1973. While many find the premise that "gods" from outer space may have guided developing humankind in its evolutionary ascent, critics find fault in the propensity of such theorists to attribute any ancient, unexplained mystery to extraterrestrials who supposedly seeded, propagated, and still maintain watch over the planet. Despite these shortcomings, certain researchers have amassed an impressive stack of evidence to support their beliefs that ancient astronauts visited Earth in prehistory, and old historical accounts, ancient legends, and myths are brought forth and given fresh interpretations.

The possibility of ancient space visitations was explored by Dr. Carl Sagan (1934–1996) as early as the 1966 convention of the American Astronautical Society. "Our tiny corner of the universe may have been visited thousands of times in the past few billions of years," Sagan stated in Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966), coauthored with I. S. Shklovski. "At least one of these visits may have occurred in historical times." Sagan, both an exobiologist and an astronomer, theorized that Earth may have been visited by various galactic civilizations many times during prehistoric times and that it is not out of the question that artifacts of such extraterrestrial visits might still exist, or even that some kind of alien base is maintained within our solar system to provide continuity for successive expeditions.

Such a hypothesis coming from a respected scientist encouraged many UFO researchers to theorize that Homo sapiens may have been

Alien footprint. (ARCHIVES OF  BRAD STEIGER)
Alien footprint. (
seeded on Earth, for despite the many theories put forth by conventional scientists, it is still not known how humans originated on this planet. The Darwinian theory of evolution remains a fascinating, yet unproved, hypothesis, simply because the elusive "missing link" remains undiscovered. The alleged link between humans and their anthropoid cousins may have been provided by visitors from another world.

Some believe that not only did the ancient astronauts carefully guide the evolution of humankind, they also assisted early builders in erecting great monuments as testimony to their presence. For instance, there is the Cheops Pyramid, the tallest structure in antiquity, which, discounting a number of skyscrapers in the United States, still ranks as the ninth tallest architectural marvel in the world today. It has been estimated that more than 2,300,000 stone blocks of an average weight of two and one-half tons went into the construction of this last resting place for the pharoah Cheops, c. 2800 B.C.E. The Pyramid of Khafre, near Cheops, stands 442 feet high and covers 12 acres. The third pyramid in the massive triumvirate, Mycerinus, is 215 feet tall and 346 feet wide on each side. Those researchers who favor the ancient astronaut hypothesis protest that the classic picture of teams of men roped together and tugging away at moving the massive stone blocks up the ramps, tier by tier, may be feasible, but such a method of construction would call for such unlikely figures as 100,000 slaves struggling in torment for 20 years to shape one pyramid. It seems illogical to such theorists that any governing agency, no matter how tyrannical and all-powerful, could ever conscript that many workers over that long a period of time without causing a revolt or draining off too much manpower from other tasks, such as raising food. In addition, it seems unlikely that the government would be able to convince the populace that the pyramid was necessary in the first place.

Petroglyph allegedly identified as an "astronaut." (KLAUS AARSLEFF/FORTEAN  PICTURE LIBRARY)
Petroglyph allegedly identified as an "astronaut." (
Would supplying tombs for dead pharoahs be considered a worthy task on which to expend so much time and manpower? Would ancient Egypt, with a population of only a few million, stand such a drain of numbers for long periods of 10 or 20 years?

To those who espouse the ancient astronaut theory, such massive works as the pyramids of Egypt were built by intervening extraterrestrials, who used the power plants of their flying saucers to hoist such tonnage into place. Spaceships of vast proportions may have brought extraterrestrial colonists to various parts of Earth and may also have supplied the heavy lift power for erecting great stone works before returning to the home planet.

The earliest civilization of which contemporary science has any records flowered among the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. For many years the reason for this sudden onset of culture in Sumer had remained a mystery. It wasn't until the 1980s that science determined just how such a miracle of seemingly instant progress had occurred. Now it is known that this quantum leap in humankind's intellectual development occurred in Sumer 6,000 years ago when cuneiform writing was developed to record a dramatic starburst. Literally overnight in evolutionary terms, the Sumerians gave the world the first love song, the first school system, the first directory of pharmaceutical concoctions, a law code, and the first parliament. The roots of the Judeo-Christian religious beliefs grew from the "tree of knowledge," the Garden of Eden, which tradition places in that same area. The origins of Western culture were nursed in Sumer, and it has come to be acknowledged as the cradle of civilization—all because of a starburst.

Astronomers recognize that the nearest and brightest supernova that has ever been witnessed by humankind was Vela X, now a faintly flashing pulsar about 1,300 light-years from our solar system. George Michanowsky, a specialist in Mesopotamian astronomy, saw how the first and most fundamental symbol of Sumerian script was one which represented "star." He went on to show how the very first word ever written by a human hand soon became linked with the symbol for "deity," thus communicating "star god." Michanowsky saw the death-blaze of Vela X to have been such a dramatic sky show that it became a profound cultural organizing principle that forced human knowledge to take a giant leap forward. But was there something more that took place at that time?

The Babylonian priest-historian Berossus chronicled the coming of Oannes, an entity described as being half-man, half-fish, who surfaced from the Persian Gulf to instruct the early inhabitants of Mesopotamia in the arts of civilization. Before the advent of Oannes, Berossus stated, the Sumerians lived like beasts in the field, with no order or rule. The Sumerians lived exactly as their primitive forefathers had existed until Oannes, the bizarre "beast with reason" appeared in their midst. The gifted alien entity was endowed with superior intelligence, it is written, but its appearance was frightening to behold. Oannes had the body of a fish with humanlike feet—and a head that combined the features of fish and human.

Berossus explained that the Fishman walked about on land during the day, counseling the Sumerians, but returned to the ocean each evening. Oannes gave the Sumerians insight into letters and sciences and every kind of art. He taught them to construct houses, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them how to collect fruits. In short, he instructed them in everything that could tend to soften their manners and humanize them.

Sumerian astronomers became so accurate in their science that their measurements on the rotation of the Moon is off only 0.4 from modern, computerized figures. One pictograph depicts the planets revolving around the Sun—something that Copernicus and Kepler postulated only 500 years ago. At the height of the Greek civilization, the highest known number was 10,000. After that sum, the Greek mathematicians could only fall back on "infinity." A tablet found in the hills near ancient Sumer some years back contained a 15-digit number:195,955,200,000,000.

Many ancient cultures have legends of amphibians or serpent people who, like Oannes, the half-human, half-fish, instructed the early inhabitants of Mesopotamia in the arts of civilization. There was Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent of the Aztecs, who descended from heaven in a silver egg, and there are the Nagas, the handsome, semidivine Serpent People with supernatural powers who figure in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Throughout the dim corridors of history, there are frequent mentions of legendary "sky people," who were considered to have been emissaries of the "flying serpent." The snake-worshiping Aztecs and Mayans are not far removed from the Chinese, who worshiped a celestial dragon. Both cultures may have been contacted by emissaries from another world, a highly advanced extraterrestrial reptilian species that has been observing the evolution of Earth for millions of years and has returned in the "Grays," the UFOnauts of modern times, who are described by contactees and abductees as reptilian in appearance.

If, as those researchers who champion the ancient astronaut hypothesis believe, extraterrestrials constructed so many of the architectural wonders of the ancient world and may even have guided the evolutionary path of humankind, the great question remains whether the "gods" of old have returned in their chariots as our benefactors or our owners.


Drake, W. Raymond. Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient West. New York: New American Library, 1974.

Shklovski, I. S., and Carl Sagan. Intelligent Life in the Universe. New York: Dell Books, 1968.

Sitchin, Zecharia. The 12th Planet. New York: Avon, 1978.

Von Daniken, Erich. Chariots of the Gods? New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1970.

——. Gods from Outer Space. New York: G. P. Put nam's Sons, 1971.


Downing, Barry. The Bible and Flying Saucers. New York: Lippincott, 1968; Avon, 1970; Marlowe, 1997.

Drake, W. Raymond. Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient West. New York: New American Library, 1974.

Ginsburg, Irwin. First Man, Then Adam! New York: Pocket Books, 1978.

Jessup, M. K. UFO and the Bible. New York: Citadel Press, 1956.

Von Daniken, Erich. Chariots of the Gods? New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1970.

User Contributions:

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Jun 24, 2007 @ 7:19 pm
Isn't it quite possible that the nephilim were the alleged "aliens" that visited the Aztecs, Egpytians, etc.?

Perhaps, as some have suggested, the nephilim built the pyramids, stone-henge and other mysterious structures like those statues found on Easter Island.
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Aug 23, 2009 @ 1:01 am
@ Jason
Why is it so hard to believe that human beings built those structures? Human beings are not that stupid, you know...

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