One of my earliest and most memorable reading experiences was flicking through Erich Von Daniken's book CHARIOTS OF THE GODS . Obviously a lot of words went above my head but could understand the fundamentals - that the human race owes its civilisation to intervention from aliens. An absolutely wonderful and persuasive idea to present to a young child. Even to an adult in the 1970s the idea that all human anthropology is wrong and scientists and historians are lying to us is completely seductive which is why Erich Von Daniken became a worldwide household name and a bestselling author. Today in 2017 he's remembered in much the way people remember chopper bikes and spangles. He still releases books - books as in a slight variation of CHARIOTS - but they're not translated in to English and there seems a strange cultism surrounding those who buy his books. This NOVA documentary made in conjunction with the BBC science show HORIZON did more than anything else to demolish Von Daniken's theories of ancient astronauts
"How could the ancient Egyptians manage to build pyramids" The ancient Egyptians understood mathematics. Indeed they were something of purveyors of maths The Arab race had a noble history of inventions and discoveries. If they haven't been very good at it over the last thousand years that's because they've swapped science with religion. Unfortunately being civilised isn't the same as being democratic and ancient Egypt used slave labour. The claim of Von Daniken that there wouldn't be enough man hours capable to build a pyramid in a set time. Of course there's enough man hours if you enslave enough humans
Off to Mexico for the Mayan culture where a temple shows a sarcophagus where "A human being sits in a rocket manipulating controls ... our space traveller looks intently at an apparatus in front of his face" Cut to Ian Gramm an expert on Mayan culture who concludes the apparatus is nothing more than an elaborate monument to a 7th Century Mayan leader prevalent with Mayan design which was common in Mayan art. A mere mortuary slab and not a tribute to a spaceman
Down south to Peru and the Nazca lines "The archaeologists call them Inca roads a preposterous idea . Seen from the air the clear cut impression made on me was of an airfield" Actually no archaeologist describes them as roads. Cut to Carl Sagan wondering why a species that can travel thousands of light years they need a landing field for something similar to B-24 Liberators and Spitfires. Cut to Von Daniken claiming the tracks were made by space craft landing and over the Centuries the natives have tried to preserve the lines as a tribute. Notice a strong element of backtracking, Cut to Maria Richter an expert on the Nazca lines demolishing Von Daniken's speculation
And so it goes . A quote from Von Daniken is read out . Cut to location that has supposedly been visited by aliens . Cut to Von Daniken backtracking and cut to an expert giving the most sensible explanation of the enigma. One thing that really sticks in my mind about Von Daniken's theories - which sadly isn't brought up here - is that Von Daniken never claims Stonehenge , the Greek temples and the Roman Colosseum were built by ancient astronauts. It seems non white people aren't capable of building civilisations . History really does say differently
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