Have you seen the television series Ancient Aliens? The show began airing on The History Channel in 2010 and became so immensely popular that it came to dominate the entire network. The show uses self-styled experts in UFOlogy (yes, that is a real thing), ancient mysteries, and alien activity to explain the “ancient astronaut theory.” The ancient astronaut theory explains the origins of the earth and humanity as being the product of extraterrestrial intervention in the earth’s distant past.
The producers of the show look at various “mysteries,” many of which are not mysteries at all, and walk away with the claim that the only explanation is alien activity. They then posit hypotheses about how and why aliens would have been behind this particular aspect of human history.
The show makes for great entertainment, especially if you are looking for a laugh at the logical fallacies and outright lies that the producers make. Are you on the fence about whether or not Ancient Aliens is based on correct information? Keep reading to learn some of the logical fallacies and factual inconsistencies that habitually appear in the show.
Puma Punku Is Not 17,000 Years Old
Puma Punku is a site in Peru, South America, that was built by the pre-Incan peoples in the Andes Mountains. It was probably a large temple complex with other buildings and was used primarily for worship. For the directors of Ancient Aliens, Puma Punku is irrefutable proof of extraterrestrial activity on earth, considering that they claim the site is 17,000 years old.
There are plenty of scientific ways to measure the age of archaeological sites, yet none of them were used in how the directors of Ancient Aliens measured the age of Puma Punku. Instead, they relied on an unscientific measurement that was made in the 1920s by someone who assumed that one of the blocks must align with the summer solstice. To make that hypothesis work, he had to propose a date 17,000 years in the past.
Ancient Aliens claims that the massive blocks at Puma Punku are of uniform size, made of granite and diorite, and have perfect, 90-degree right angles. Each of these “facts” is evidence for extraterrestrial activity, as the blocks had to have been carved with diamond-studded tools and laser beams, none of which the pre-Incan peoples had.
All of these claims are simply incorrect. The blocks are of varying sizes, though the camera might point to a collection of blocks that are almost the same size. The blocks are made of the sandstone that is abundant in the mountains, and groove marks suggest that they were made with the primitive stone tools that scientists know the pre-Incan peoples possessed. Furthermore, the blocks do not have perfect right angles.
The Puma Punku Blocks Were Not Levitated Into Position
Ancient Aliens claims that the blocks at Puma Punku weighed more than 800 tons and had to have been levitated into their position, as there is no way that the pre-Incan peoples could have moved blocks that heavy.
Yet the heaviest of the blocks is in the range of 130 tons, about five times smaller than what Ancient Aliens claims. The blocks all have drag marks that indicate ropes were attached to them, and they were dragged overland to their location at Puma Punku. There was no need for alien technology at all.
There are plenty of theories about how the pyramids at Giza were built. The opinions range from plausible explanations based on the tools and understanding that we know the ancient Egyptians had, all the way to fantastical accounts about how aliens had to have constructed them. Of course, Ancient Aliens falls into the latter category.
The directors of Ancient Aliens claim that the blocks used for the pyramids and other structures built by the ancient Egyptians had to have been cut using laser beam technology. Nevertheless, this claim is incorrect. Researchers have proven time and again that even the hard granite that the Egyptians used for some of their structures could have been cut with the very human tools that they had available.
The Stones For The Pyramids Were Not Levitated Into Place
The directors of Ancient Aliens insist that the ancient Egyptians could not have moved the massive blocks that they used to construct the pyramids. Instead, the blocks had to have been levitated into place with alien technology. One piece of evidence is the question of how the builders were able to get the blocks to the top of the pyramid.
Yet there are plenty of theories explaining how the pyramids were constructed that do not require the use of levitation and other alien technology. Evidence suggests that the pyramids were built with a ramp inside the structure that allowed workers to guide the blocks from the ground to the top of the pyramid. Further evidence against the levitation theory is the drag marks that are evident on all of the blocks.
One of the most fantastical claims on Ancient Aliens is that the Egyptian pyramids served a very distinct purpose suited for our extraterrestrial friends: the inner chambers served as nuclear reactors, and the energy generated formed part of the world grid that powered alien spacecraft.
This claim is simply false. The construction of the pyramids can be explained using the tools and techniques available to ancient Egyptians, and the evidence is actually against any kind of extraterrestrial intervention. If aliens were not part of the construction process, then we can cast serious doubt on the idea that the pyramids were actually used as nuclear reactors.
The Temple At Baalbek Was Not An Ancient Spacecraft Landing Platform
Baalbek is a temple site in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley that the ancient Romans built to honor Zeus. Underneath the Roman structures is evidence of a pre-Roman temple built to honor the Canaanite deity, Baal.
Ancient Aliens see the temple of Baal as an old spacecraft landing platform. For evidence, they point to the trilithon stones, three massive granite blocks that form a retaining wall for the Baal temple. The directors posit that the only possible explanation for the trilithon stones is that they were put into place so that alien spacecraft would have a place to land.
The Trilithon Stones Are Not Even Part Of The Foundation
Despite the claims made on Ancient Aliens, the trilithon stones at Baalbek are simply not large enough to form a landing pad, and their construction has been explained using very this-worldly means. They are quite narrow, so landing a spacecraft on them would be awkward at best, even though the directors claim that the sole purpose of the stones is to form a landing platform.
Furthermore, the trilithon stones formed a retaining wall, not the foundation of the complex. They were not even part of the original pre-Roman structure; the trilithon stones were put into place using Roman technology.
The directors of Ancient Aliens make the audacious claim that the ancient poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, describes alien spacecraft ascending and descending from Baalbek, a site that the epic describes as “the landing place.”
This claim is simply untrue. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written by the ancient Sumerians and contained no references to Baalbek, which is located in Lebanon. The claim comes from the writings of Zecharia Sitchin, whose book The 12th Planet, posits that the Sumerian “gods” known as the Anunaki were extraterrestrial visitors from a distant planet in our solar system. It has no basis in the actual text of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The 12th Planet attempts to present irrefutable evidence of extraterrestrial activity in ancient Sumer, and the directors of Ancient Aliens rely heavily on the information that it offers. However, much of the data is merely incorrect, and it does not follow any academic standards.
The book does not contain any cross-references to ancient texts, so the reader has to assume that the author knows what he is talking about but cannot verify the information. For example, where the book claimed Baalbek being a site in the Epic of Gilgamesh, there was no reference to exactly where in the ancient tale, and there is a mention of Baalbek.
The directors of Ancient Aliens look at the seemingly perfect beveled edges of the stones used in ancient Incan structures and jump to the conclusion that they must have been melted into place. They then jump to the conclusion that the only beings that could have had that technology had to have been aliens.
Many of the stones that the ancient Incas used, which Ancient Aliens point to as having been melted, are made of granite. Granite gives off telltale signs of having been melted and hardened, and there is no such evidence at any of the Incan sites.
We Do Know How The Moai Statues On Easter Island Got There
The directors of Ancient Aliens claim that the construction and movement of the famous Moai statues on Easter Island are entirely inexplicable. Yet there is ample archaeological and scientific research that points to their origins.
The Moai construction was abandoned abruptly, so there are many statues on Easter Island in various stages of construction. There are also plenty of stone tools around the figures, which tell archaeologists exactly what methods the builders used. No extraterrestrial technology was necessary.
Ancient Aliens also claims that the only way that the Moai could have been moved from their construction sites in the ground to their standing position was alien technology. However, there have been multiple experiments done, showing just how easily the Moai could have been moved using simple wooden rollers.
For the directors of Ancient Aliens, the definitive proof that the Moai could not have been moved on wooden rollers is because there are currently very few trees on Easter Island. Nevertheless, the island once had vast forests and was deforested precisely because the trees were cut down to move the Moai.
The Sarcophagus Of The Mayan King Pacal Does Not Depict A Rocket
The “researchers” on Ancient Aliens love to point to the lid of the sarcophagus of the ancient Mayan ruler, King Pacal. The top has intricate carvings that depict the king amidst various Mayan symbols, which Ancient Aliens interprets as a spacecraft.
The “researchers” have a theory that King Pacal was operating a spacecraft, but there is a much more this-worldly explanation. The “spacecraft” is a depiction of the World Tree, an essential component of the Mayan cosmology. But if you look at it wanting to see a spacecraft, you could find some way to interpret the image as being a spacecraft.
The self-styled experts on Ancient Aliens claim that in the sarcophagus image of King Pacal, his feet are operating a pedal, and his hands are steering something. Yet many pieces of Mayan art depict people’s feet in the same position as King Pacal, yet they are not touching or operating anything.
Furthermore, his right hand could not possibly be operating any machinery, as it is not touching anything. His left hand could be feeling something, but in all likelihood, it is touching the stylistic bark on the World Tree. Sorry Ancient Aliens, but there are much more reasonable explanations that fit the evidence better than the theory of extraterrestrial activity.
The Nazca Lines Were Not Created As Spacecraft Runways
The Nazca Lines are massive geoglyphs – several miles long – that cover parts of southern Peru’s Nazca Desert. Some are straight lines, but some are stylized representations of animals, such as a giant monkey and giant snake. Ancient Aliens makes the bold claim that the Nazca Lines were created by extraterrestrials to serve as runways for their spacecraft.
While that idea may at first seem somewhat plausible for the straight lines, it is utterly fantastical for the stylized lines. There is simply no way that a giant depiction of a monkey, nearly one kilometer in size, was constructed as a runway.
The Nazca Lines Were Also Not Produced By Alien Landings
Another hypothesis that Ancient Aliens put forward about the origin of the Nazca Lines is that they were created when alien spaceships landed. The idea is that while landing, the spaceships ran along the ground, and multiple such landings created the geoglyphs that are still visible today.
But simply given the length of some of the Nazca Lines, this explanation is not very realistic. The longest one is nearly 15 miles long. Imagine one of our modern-day airplanes taking 15 miles to land and take off! That kind of technology would be so inefficient that one can hardly expect it to be capable of interstellar, or even interplanetary, travel.
The People Who Created The Nazca Lines Did Not Level Off Entire Mountains
One claim on Ancient Aliens that attempts to prove that the Nazca Lines are the product of alien activity is that the flattened mountaintops in the Nazca desert were artificially leveled off. This process would have required massive machinery, ergo, aliens.
Yet there is a much simpler and much more logical explanation. These leveled-off mountains were not artificially created but rather are plateaus. Plateaus are naturally occurring features that occur all across the world. They are formed by millennia of wind erosion and other this-worldly events.
Scientists And Archaeologists Are Pretty Certain About The Origins Of The Nazca Lines
The Nazca desert has an upper layer of pebbles and sand and an under layer of iron oxide, which is reddish-brown. If you go to the Nazca desert today and move some of the upper layers out of the way, you will easily expose that red under layer. The Nazca Lines were easily made by hand.
The environment in the Nazca desert is remarkably arid, so arid that the superficial drawings that the ancient Nazca people made are still in place today. There is hardly any precipitation to wash them away, so they remain today. No aliens needed.
The logical leap that the experts on Ancient Aliens made on this one is pretty remarkable. The ancient Egyptians built some underground crypts, which are pitch black. To get around those crypts, they had to use lightbulbs, which they see as depicted in some of the artwork.
Yet there is ample evidence that the ancient Egyptians used torches to find their way through the pitch-black crypts. One piece of evidence is that the walls and ceilings are lined with the soot that would have come from the torches. Though Ancient Aliens claims that there is not enough oxygen in those crypts for a flame to burn, people have been finding their way through the pitch-black in those very same crypts using torches for hundreds of years.
The So-Called “Lightbulbs” Are Depicting Egyptian Cosmology
To explain away the “mainstream” scientific explanation for the “lightbulbs,” Ancient Aliens says that the mainstream reason is that they are simply a lotus flower. The experts then dismiss that explanation altogether.
However, what they fail to explain is that only one end of the “lightbulb” drawing is a lotus flower, which plays a vital role in Egyptian cosmology. Emerging from the lotus flower is a snake, another critical feature in Egyptian cosmology, and the glow of the sun believed to represent the first Egyptian deity, the sun god, Re.
There Is No Mention Of Electricity Anywhere In Ancient Egyptian Texts
The ancient Egyptians kept massive records of their cosmology, religious beliefs, building practices, and many aspects of their day-to-day lives. What is ominously missing from any of their writing is any mention of electricity.
If the Egyptians had such advanced use of electricity that they were able to use lightbulbs, which require the technology of vacuum tubes, then there would undoubtedly be some mention of power in their writings. The lack of any such reference is evidence enough that the experts in Ancient Aliens designed a hypothesis and then read that hypothesis into the evidence. A scientific procedure would have done the exact opposite.
Medieval Art Does Not Contain Depictions Of Alien Spacecraft
Medieval art was loaded with symbolism and theological meaning, as much of the artwork from that period of Europe’s history had the church as its patron and was based on scenes from the Bible. Some of that symbolism has been misrepresented as depicting alien spacecraft.
Many Medieval paintings show a picture of the sun and the moon, with rays coming out of them and human-like faces. Ancient Aliens explains these images as being pictures of extraterrestrials flying around in the background of biblical scenes. However, looking at these images as symbols of the sun, moon, and other natural features are much more consistent with the culture of the day.
Some pieces of Medieval art depict Jesus alongside a sphere, which art and history scholars represent as being the world. They say that the artwork shows that Jesus is Lord over creation and that nothing is hidden from his sight.
Nevertheless, the producers of Ancient Aliens suggest that these spheres could not possibly represent the earth, as people in the Middle Ages believed the earth to be flight. Yet this claim is entirely false. People had known since the days of ancient Greece that the earth is round, and though some aspects of Medieval life may have been backward, for the most part, they knew that the earth was round.
The explanation that Ancient Aliens gives to explain these spheres is that they are depictions of spacecraft similar to Sputnik.
In one episode, Ancient Aliens tells the story of the Mitchell-Hedges skull, a crystal skull that explorer Anna Mitchell-Hedges supposedly found while on an expedition with her father and his team. The sheer perfection of the skull seems to be evidence that the alien activity created it.
Except that the entire story behind the Mitchell-Hedges skull is entirely false. Every single crystal skull known to be in existence, including the ones owned by the British Museum, has been proven to be forgeries. The Mitchell-Hedges skull was the last one to fall, as its owner, Anna Mitchell-Hedges, refused to allow scientists to perform any tests on it while she was alive.
Following her death, her widower took the skull to undergo scientific testing. It suffered the same fate as every other crystal skull when it was also found to be a forgery.
There Is No Archeological Or Scientific Evidence Connected To The Crystal Skulls
Ancient Aliens makes a pretty big deal about the crystal skulls as irrefutable evidence of alien activity. The producers suggest a legend of the crystal skulls, which claims that there are 13 inhabited worlds whose residents have visited planet Earth. Each of those alien species left behind a crystal skull, which contained information for humanity to one day uncover.
When all 13 of the crystal skulls come together, they will do something remarkable. That these ancient alien civilizations left the 13th skull to the Mayan people is because the Maya were open to the secrets of the universe. However, there is no evidence that any of this legend is correct, and all of the crystal skulls known to be in existence are modern forgeries.
The Popularity Of The Crystal Skulls Is Thanks To The New Age Movement
Anna Mitchell-Hedges acquired her crystal skull from her father during the 1960s when the hippie movement helped spearhead the sudden popularity of New Age thought. Anna tried for years to sell the skull for a hefty profit but instead promoted it as a commodity to the New Age crowd.
Today, New Agers continue to look to the crystal skulls for inspiration about a higher plane, and they talk about the skulls’ frequency and vibration of being far superior to what most people experience. These ideas about frequency and vibration are directly connected to the New Age movement. They have nothing to do with the ancient native cultures that supposedly received the skulls from aliens.
No, The Prophet Ezekiel Did Not Write About Aliens
Ancient Aliens looks to the biblical book of Ezekiel, which contains apocalyptic imagery describing the glory of God. This imagery includes wheels within wheels and beings that have multiple faces. Ancient Aliens posits that the prophet was describing UFOs and aliens but did not have the vocabulary to express those ideas.
One problem with that hypothesis is that Ezekiel’s writing is incredibly detailed, specific, and nuanced. He described a temple complex so clearly that biblical scholars have no trouble mapping it out, and he certainly had the vocabulary to describe a silver disc flying through the air or a little gray man. But he didn’t. He was very clear about what he described, which, though apocalyptic, did not involve UFOs.
“Flames” In Biblical Apocalyptic Imagery Do Not Describe Spaceships
For evidence supporting the ancient astronaut theory, Ancient Aliens looks to depictions in the Bible about fire, particularly within apocalyptic imagery, as describing spaceships. They look at the fire surrounding the throne of God in Ezekiel’s imagery and the fire in the temple of God that Isaiah depicts as some examples.
The most technological problem with this view is that a combustible engine – one that engages fire – would be unsuitable interstellar or even interplanetary travel. To further debunk the hypothesis, the imagery in Isaiah explicitly depicts fire on coals – imagine using coal to power a spaceship from another solar system!
The Wheels Underneath The Throne Of God Are Not Spaceship Propellers
The biblical books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation, and Isaiah all depict the throne of God and describe it as having wheels underneath it. Ezekiel took the most attention to detail, explaining wheels within wheels – virtually a wheel with spokes that connect to a rim, a prevalent wheel structure even today.
Ancient Aliens took Ezekiel’s depiction and said that the prophet was describing spaceship propellers. Nevertheless, this idea is entirely inconsistent with the actual text of Ezekiel, especially when that text is cross-referenced with other depictions of the throne of God.
The Mahabharata Does Not Describe Ancient Nuclear Wars
The Mahabharata is an ancient Hindu text that describes ancient warfare among the gods. Ancient Aliens claims that the document describes explosions that are “brighter than a thousand suns,” following which the survivors experience symptoms of radiation poisoning, including their nails and hair falling out.
While the idea of radiation poisoning in the far distant past may make for a great science fiction novel, these ideas are actually not even present in the Mahabharata. The producers do not reference where in the Mahabharata these ideas come from, and for a good reason: the claim emerged from a very modern book called Morning of the Magicians.
Mohenjo Daro Was Not The Site Of An Ancient Nuclear Attack
In keeping with the idea of ancient nuclear warfare, Ancient Aliens looks to the archeological site of Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan. To make their case, the producers claim that parts of the site have high levels of radiation, that the skeletons found on the site indicate that all of the people died suddenly and that the rocks underwent a process of vitrification, which involves excessive amounts of heat.
While those bits of evidence make for a compelling case that Mohenjo Daro was, in fact, the site of an ancient nuclear attack, the problem is that none of the evidence is accurate. Only 37 skeletons have been found at Mohenjo Daro; the skeletons are from people who lived within a full millennium of each other, and there is no evidence that anyone died suddenly.