Posts Tagged With: Ancient Astronauts

Atlantis at Last! In Search of Aliens S01, E01

Nothing like starting off a new series with a tired topic. But seeing as Ancient Aliens is now in it’s 7th season, this is par for the course for Giorgio A. Tsoukalos. Mr. Tsoukalos is the main character for this new show that is going to investigate, um, stuff about, things…and Aliens! And we’re launching this new series with one of the oldest stories of time…Atlantis!

We start off with some riveting music and images of Tsoukalos dressed up like adventurers dress when out looking for lost cities and the like. He forgot his whip and fedora at home, but did remember his satchel. Points for a good costume! After the intro credits we’re ready to be reminded that Tsoukalos is an Ancient Alien Theorist, it says so under his name. Tsoukalos wastes no time in telling us how evil ‘mainstream scholars’ don’t want you to know the truth about things and how he’s here to fix that problem. He’s going to give you all the information you need, to realize that everything is Aliens.

Also, there was this guy Plato who once wrote a couple of books that mentioned a place called Atlantis. Therefore the place is real, as was everyplace Plato ever wrote about. I mean, we all know where the Republic is right? Right?

Tsoukalos tells us that Atlantis has to be a real place because as a child he believed it was, and also Plato was very descriptive of the place. This argument also means that Hogwarts, Narnia, Wonderland, and Lothlorien are real too, awesome!

But enough snark, lets get to the meat of the show.

So we begin our quest for Atlantis and Aliens in Athens, Greece. This is the best place to begin since this is where Plato wrote Critias and Timaeus. I’m just going to link you to the texts because we don’t really have time to go into them deeply. Briefly though, in Critias, Socrates asks his students to imagine a culture that was more advanced than his imagined utopia in the Republic, and then send the two cultures to war. Critias, for whom the book is named, imagines the Atlanteans. He sees them as a great warlike people who crush all the other cultures around them, until they encounter the brave and noble Athenians, and are finally beaten in battle. He also spends some time describing the city of Atlantis, thinking it would be best to flesh out the culture before sending them to war.

This backstory is slightly important to the plot of the show. You see, once upon a time, the gods of Greece split up the lands and gave a portion to each god. Poseidon, God of the seas, was given the lands of Atlantis, where a young woman lived with her parents on a mountain, until her parents died. Once that happened, Poseidon made his move and got her pregnant five times with five sets of twin boys. So now, he’s got all these kids and they need something to do, so he divides his own lands up into ten kingdoms and sets his sons to rule over them.

We learn all this from the conversation Tsoukalos has with Sandy MacGillivray Ph.D. a Classical Archaeologist at the British School at Athens as we’re told by the letters under his name. Now, Joseph Alexander MacGillivray is a real archaeologist, and is well known for his work with Minoan Cultures. He’s not working for the British School at Athens, as far as I can tell he’s basically retired and writing up his notes on his past excavations. But any amount of street cred the show can give him is great because Dr. MacGillivray says something very strange as he’s telling us about Poseidon’s five sets of twins. Out of the blue he tell us that it sounds like genetic manipulation to him.

A little bit of digging on Dr. MacGillivray and you find that he is very well respected in his field, which is not genetics. If you dig deeper you will find that he is known for making strange remarks like these. Which distresses me a lot, since he offers no evidence to support such an outlandish claim or even explains why he said something so random in the first place. I would like to talk to Dr. MacGillivray, specifically about his remarks, but I can’t find any contact information for him. So if someone reading this can connect us, that would be awesome. Until then I can only go with what I found.

Probably the least surprising thing about Dr. Gillivray’s comment is how Tsoukalos preens with it. Finally a ‘mainstream scholar’ who tells him something he wants to hear. Nevermind all the others who show him evidence and facts that go counter to the whole Alien thing. No, this one guy agreed with him, so that makes everything right.

We move from Greece to Spain and from a respected archaeologist to a retired ad executive. Peter Daughtrey whose only real claim to fame is a book he wrote called ‘Atlantis and the Silver City’ where he makes the claim that Atlantis is really where Silves, Portugal is today. He says that Plato left behind 100 clues to find Atlantis, and that Silves fits over 50 of them. We’re never told what those 100 clues are, probably so we’ll go buy his book, but we do spend the majority of the show with him. One interesting thing we do get to see, besides the scenery, seriously this place is beautiful, is a great stone egg.

Technically it’s classified as a standing stone by the Lagos National Museum, but that’s a ‘mainstream’ classification. Daughtrey explains to us that it’s really a celestial egg and the relief carvings on it are actually DNA strands. He also tells us that Bronze couldn’t have carved the stone, which is true, but also not how the Greeks carved stone anyway, so it’s a misleading and useless point to make.

Tsoukalos seems to like the stone egg, and begins connecting it to every reference he’s ever heard of eggs. There’s no reason for him to be doing this, there’s no evidence to connect these things, but he’s on a roll. Tsoukalos also gets wrapped up in the DNA thing, even though the relief doesn’t look anything like a DNA strand. It looks like a bunch of ovals strung together that get smaller as they taper down the stone, and there is a line connecting them all through their centers. Last I checked DNA was a helix and didn’t have a line running down the middle of it.


stone egg screen shot


All this DNA talk gets Tsoukalos talking about Aliens and he explains to Daughtrey that Gods aren’t really Gods, they’re Aliens, and Poseidon mixed Alien DNA with Human DNA to make, um, Humans. Then he tells us that the Anunnaki (who are really Aliens) modified Homo Erectus DNA to make modern humans so we could be slaves. Daughtrey agrees and says that we much have been genetically programed to worship the God/Anunnaki/Aliens and then they tried to kill us with a flood (ala biblical flood) when they let the planet. And isn’t it weird that all the coastal cultures have Great Flood Myths? That’s so weird right? No way it could be because they all live near big bodies of water that tend to flood in yearly cycles, that wouldn’t make any sense at all, it must be Aliens.

After Daughtrey tell us about his suspicion of sunken cities along the coast of Portugal, for which he has no evidence, were off to see Erich Von Däniken himself!

We meet Von Däniken in what Tsoukalos calls ‘Mystery Park’ in Switzerland, an educational park that von Däniken’s uses to bring enlightenment to the world about Ancient Astronaut Theories. What it really is, is a failed ancient astronaut theme park that opened in 2003 and closed in 2006 due to a lack of income. Today it’s just a kiddie park called Jungfrau Park and is only open during the summer. Von Däniken gives talks on Thursdays when the park is open, according to the website.

Still were treated to a long talk between Tsoukalos and Von Däniken where they talk about Aliens altering the human genetic code by changing “One Base” in the code and then implanting it in a human woman. The child would be completely human, except not, and so then would be what? I asked my Geneticist friend what “Changing one Base” would do. They said that would be like changing one letter out of an entire book. It wouldn’t be noticed and wouldn’t do anything anyway. So what would be the point? My friend went on to explain what you would have to do to really change a genetic code, then asked me why I was asking, and then left the room laughing when I told them it was aliens.

Whats more important is there is no evidence to support this idea of genetic manipulation. Also, Von Däniken and Tsoukalos can’t seem to decide if the genetic manipulation happened before or after we become fully modern humans. They also can’t seem to tell us why the Aliens would do it in the first place.

Also, why are the Aliens always male? Why are women only ever mentioned as being incubators for alien babies? There were/are Goddesses too, are only Gods Aliens and Goddesses are not real at all? And what about human women. All they do is give birth, all the ‘great people’ that come from being alien-human hybrids are men. Are women not a real people to Tsoukalos and Von Däniken?

Anyway, Von Däniken sends Tsoukalos away fro the last leg of our journey, and we end the show on the islands of Santorini. If you don’t know much about the lovely island of Santorini, what you need to know is that there was a giant volcano that blew up the island around 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. It probably wiped out the Minoans living on the island of Crete by causing a massive Tsunami and it blew a giant crater in the middle of the Santorini island making it three islands instead of one. There is some debate that this incident is the source of the legend of Atlantis, as the Minoans on Santorini were very wealthy and very sophisticated for their time. They had flushing toilets and possibly hot and cold running water, but I’m to a point now where I don’t put much past the ancient Greeks anymore. Still, there is no evidence for this to be true either.

Tsoukalos spends the rest of the show musing over whether or not Santorini was literally Atlantis, and even has a friend show us some frescos from the archaeological excavations. One Fresco in particular catches his attention and he sees four figures dressed in long cloaks. He says the cloaks look like they are made of feathers, but they could easily be made of hair, grass, or even fish scales. Tsoukalos tells us the figures are males, but there is no reason to think this as there are no gender markers one way or the other. Still, Tsoukalos concludes that these are men and are depictions of the Anunnaki/Aliens.


feather cloaks


In the very last five minutes of the show we are treated to Tsoukalos’ favorite Atlantis theory of them all. That Atlantis wasn’t an island at all, it was a spaceship full of genetic manipulating aliens that would land periodically to spread genes and culture and then fly away to someplace else. That’s why no one can find it, because it’s a spaceship.

This whole show we’re not offered one bit of actual evidence of anything. Tsoukalos and company do nothing but speculate and postulate, without offering anything to support their ideas. Tsoukalos spends most of his energy in the the show trying to convince us that we’re all just Alien-Human hybrids, but can’t tell us how he knows that or why it would be true in the first place. He reinterprets everything he comes across to be Aliens without explaining why it should be that over the actual explanation. I mean, there really is no substance to the show. There are no facts to dispute because there are no facts. And the ideas Tsoukalos puts forth are not theories, they are just fantasies cooked up in his spare time. Theories are built on facts and evidence, neither of which were presented in this show.

So where is Atlantis? It’s in two books called Critias and Timaeus and no where else.

*All images are screenshots from the show.

Want more on this topic? Go to Reviews: In Search of Aliens

Categories: In Search of Aliens, Rants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Between the Nazca Lines: What are the Nazca Lines?

Let’s continue with our re-look at the Nazca Lines!

Photo care of Don Proulx’s Website

Let me tell you, there is a lot of crap out there about the Nazca Lines, and I do mean crap. Everything from linking them to 2012 to, of course, Aliens. Surprisingly, Aliens are not the #1 explanation for the lines, it seems, from the sites I’ve seen, that the general consensus is that they are spiritual in nature. The Spiritual-ness is so broad and varied that I’m not going to even try to tackle it here.

The nitty-gritty of what the lines are made of is that the lines are glyphs that were “etched” into the southern Peruvian desert floor by the removal of the darker, oxidized brown rocks, revealing the whiter rocks below. The contrast of the lighter rocks against the darker rocks is what creates the lines, which form everything from animal glyphs (boimorphs) to geometric shapes [Proulx 2000]. Though the majority of geoglyps are dated to the Nazca Culture, some are even older [Isla 2007, Proulx 2000].

Maria Reiche

Perhaps the popularity of the lines came in the 1920s when commercial flights between Lima and Arequipa, Peru become available [Hall 2010]. Other than speculation, no real research was apparently done on the lines until a German-born teacher named Maria Reiche made the first formal surveys of the lines and figures [Hall 2010]. This was sometime after World War II and Reiche continued her surveys and conservation until her death in 1998 [Hall 2010].

Of course Reiche had a hypothesis on what the geoglyphs represented, and in her surveys seemed to find evidence supporting it. Reiche hypothesized that the geoglyphs represented settings on an astronomical calendar [Hall 2010]. This particular and perhaps first formal hypothesis is still one of the most popular, despite being mostly discredited by modern survey and research [Hall 2010].

One such modern survey was called The Nazca Lines Project. In which Dr. Donald A. Proulx, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, participated from 1996-2000. The project was dreamed up by one David Jonson, who believed he had found a strong spatial correlation between the location of puquios (an old system of aqueducts native to the area), wells, and the geoglyphs [Proulx 2000].

Photo Care of Don Proulx’s Website.

He present the hypothesis that :

“…trapezoids lay directly over what he calls veins, but which more accurately are zones of higher permeability materials consisting of coarser gravels associated with distributary[sic] channels in the alluvial material. Johnson claims that the width of the trapezoids defined the width of the zone capable of transmitting ground water. A zigzag pattern located along the boundary of a trapezoid indicated there was no water and defined the boundary of the water flow. Triangular geoglyphs pointed to sources of water. The last correlation that he noted was that there were always archaeological sites affiliated with geological features, puquios and wells.” [Proulx 2000]

In what was to become Johnson’s hypothesis, he and Dr. Proulx further refined it.

“These observations led to a new working hypothesis for the function of the Nazca lines that was different from any previous idea: geological faults and alluvial gravels provide pathways for ground water flow, and they transmit water as a zone of concentrated flow into the valleys. These geological features collect water in one part of the drainage and conduct it across and down the valleys to locations where it can be reached by digging puquios or wells, or to locations where the water table is high enough for springs or seepage to be present on the surface. The ancient people realized they could find a reliable source of fresh water at these locations and that is where they established their habitation sites. Johnson claims the ancient Nazca marked the flow of subterranean water with geoglyphs. He argued that there are five factors that are consistently found together: geological faults and/or higher permeability sands and gravels with the alluvial fans, archaeological sites, an aquifer, a source of fresh water (spring, seep, puquio, or well), and the geoglyphs that mark their location. Where one or more of these features are found there is a high probability the others are present.” [Proulx 2000]

In the end, after thorough investigation and evaluation of the data, there were some favorable association with particular glyphs, but no concrete association overall.

It’s important to note here that this doesn’t completely invalidate Johnson’s hypothesis, but it does show that the original needs to be reworked in light of the new evidence.

Still, even with this extensive piece of research and survey, that I recommend people read over and follow associated links, the Alien proponents still hang on. Without conclusive evidence to the contrary (and even with), those who want to believe will, as Von Daniken shows us over and over. Even with the most recent and most comprehensive research into the lines done by Johny Isla, who Von Daniken mentions by name in his newest book, and Dr. Markus Reindel.

From what I can tell, Von Daniken seems upset because Isla led a team that has produced the most concrete explanation for the lines with some very in-depth insights.

Johny Isla is the director of the Andean Institute of Archaeological Studies. Published several times and is co-director of the Nazca -Palpa Project, with Dr. Markus Reindel of the Dutch Institute of Archaeology.

Dr. Markus Reindel’s focus on the project was photogrammetric mapping of the sites using photogrammetric reconstruction. Basically, they take a whole lot of high res pictures along with GPS points and then merge the data together to produce very detailed, practically 3D images. He published his teams work in “New Technologies for Archaeology, Multidisciplinary Investigations in Palpa and Nazca, Peru” in 2009.

So, back to the Project…

Archaeologists are using high-resolution digital images to create detailed maps of the lines, shown here in orange, made by the Nazca and Paracas cultures. (Photo: Courtesy Prof. Dr. Armin Gruen, ETH Zurich, Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry)

The Nazca-Palpa Project: Photogrammetric Reconstruction of the Geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa, was extremely extensive, rather than list all participants I’ll just link you to the projects paper. It’s a bit of a read, with lots of good stuff, but the best is in the results, where they not only show you the awesome pictures they produced, but their written conclusions.

First they were able to date the geoglyphs, all of them. From their data, glyph making started in the Late Paracas times at about 400 BC [Isla 2007]. At this time motifs normally engraved on rocks and boulders (petroglyphs) were transferred to the desert surface and the hillsides surrounding the valleys. These earliest figures were much smaller but still observable from far away and consisted of human shapes [Isla 2007].

The geoglyphs continued until the end of the Nazca era (after AD 600) when the neighboring Wari empire from the eastern highlands extended its influence down the south coast. The deposition of pottery on the geoglyphs continued for a 200 years more and then ceased all together [Isla 2007].

The project concludes that the Geoglyph complexes were probably related to kin groups who shared land rights [Isla 2007]. Members would gather on different occasions to create new geoglyphs, or remodel existing ones. During ceremony they may have walked along the geoglyphs depositing ceremonial goods like ceramic vessels containing food or beverages, field crops, textiles, Spondylus shells etc. All these goods were in some way or another related to the concepts of water and fertility which were critical to the worldview of the ancient inhabitants of Nazca [Isla 2007].

Oyster (Spondylus) shells were crafted into ornaments and left as sacrifices in Nazca water rituals. (Photo: Andrew Curry)

In this way the geoglyphs become part of the cultural landscape of the valley, creating massive gathering points for kin groups for ceremony or possibly just show. They helped establish group identity and status [Isla 2007].

The project results concludes:

“It is important to note in this context that in a common effort vast stretches of the desert were marked at large-scale and thereby integrated into the cultural domain of the valley-based society. Thus, like never before or later, the hostile desert was converted into dynamic and vibrant cultural space. However, the geoglyphs bear not only integrative, but also competitive elements. Visibility studies clearly show that intervisibility was an important aspect in geoglyph placement and order. Though the geoglyphs themselves were usually not easily discernable from neighboring sites, posts erected on them and people moving around them certainly were. Geoglyph sites therefore assumed a stage-like function, and group activity upon them raised awareness of group identity among members as well as outsiders. Thus, geoglyphs played an important role in defining group status. At the same time, geoglyph-related activity was somehow independent of changing societal circumstances down in the valleys. Distribution patterns of geoglyph sites proved to be much more stable than that of settlements, cemeteries and other cultural features. All in all, geoglyphs can literally be understood as common ground for all members of Nazca society.” [Isla 2007]

I highly recommend people reading over this report. I’m not sure what Von Daniken found fault in beside his paranoid ramblings about how he wasn’t allowed to walk all over the sites whenever he wanted. Besides, the technology they used to photography the areas is pretty cool.

So in my own conclusion, though you’ll never find a scientist willing to say that the Nazca lines are without a doubt simply cultural and ceremonial in nature, the research speaks for itself. Even the original hypothesis by Reiche merely suggested the glyphs were aligned with seasonal constellations and celestial activity, she never went as far as to suggest more than simple utility.

There is no need to make these lines more than what they were. They were tools, maps, and group markers made by humans to aid humans in their everyday lives. They are still amazing in their size and scope. They speak to human ingenuity and group co-ordination. Let’s not make less of our ancestors, let’s admire them more.


Hall, Stephen S
2010 Spirits in the Sand: The ancient Nazca lines of Peru shed their secrets. March 2010

Proulx, Donald A.
2000 The Nazca Lines Project (1996-2000)

Isla, Johny
2007 Nazca-Palpa Project: Photogrammetric Reconstruction of the Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa January 2007 (link appears to be broken) (This link send you to a copy of the paper produced from this project.)

Curry, Andrew

2009 Rituals of the Nazca Lines. Archaeological Institute of America. Volume 62 Number 3, May/June Retrieved September 18 2012.

Categories: Ancient Astronauts, Between the Nazca Lines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The 10 Most Not-So-Puzzling Ancient Artifacts: Ancient Model Aircraft, Plus a Rant!

This appears to be more of a category than an individual artifact, it seems to cover a couple of different artifacts that share the common thread of vaguely looking like flying objects. Or at lest that’s what you’re supposed to think. Two major items stand out in this category, The Saqqara Bird and the Tolima Artifacts, though it can also be said that flying carpets, winged chariots, and dragons also belong here (more on this later).

Let’s start with the Saqqara Bird.

The Bird in Question

The Saqqara Bird is an actual artifact kept in an actual museum, it was uncovered by actual archaeologists and studied by same. The Bird’s existence is not in question and not disputed. It’s the Bird’s function that people want to debate, and by people I mean the Fringe.

The Bird was discovered in 1898 by Dr. Khalil Messiha during an  excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb in Saqqara, Egypt (Fitzpatrick-Matthews 2010). It is made out of sycamore wood and appears to have a falcon shaped head, complete with Horace like eyes. It’s exact function is unknown but it is mostly accepted that the Bird was part of a mast-head used on sacred boats like those used during the Opt Festival, of which we have documentation (Fitzpatrick-Matthews 2010, Orcutt 2001].

Please note bird images on the masts of the ships.

Now, some will have you think that the Bird is a scaled down replica of a glider. There are several issues with this, mainly that, if you faithfully replicate the Bird to a larger scale, it will not fly. I know most of us have seen the Ancient Aliens episode where they make a model, and then fly it, but they also make several modifications to it, none of which have any evidence of existing. To be a final nail in the glider coffin, others have tried to replicate the models and have found them to be lacking. Larry Orcutt points out in his article “Model Airplane?” talking about the Bird:

“The requirements for a Free Flight model glider to be automatically stable in flight are that it should:

  1.  Balance somewhere between 25% and 60% of the wing chord back from the leading edge. The wing chord is the average width of the wing, measured from front to back. A glance at the bird shows that the body is made from a single piece of wood whose proportions are such that the balance point is at or behind the trailing edge of the wing. The bird’s head region has clearly never had a weight attached to it or buried within it. Such a weight would be needed to bring the balance point forward into the range given above.
  2. Have a horizontal tail surface of around 20 – 25% of the wing area. Despite some claims to the contrary, no such tail surface currently exists and there are no traces of a tail plane’s attachment point on the bird’s fin or rear body. The fin is the vertical tail surface that forms the rear of the bird’s body.
  3.  Be shaped to provide spiral stability. The presence of a large fin at the rear of the body must be balanced by a dihedralled wing if the bird is to glide without tipping over sideways into an terminal spiral dive. A dihedralled wing is one with the tips raised above the center of the wing like virtually all passenger planes and model aircraft. The bird has the opposite wing arrangement. Its wing tips are drooped to give anhedral, which would only serve to increase the bird’s spiral instability.

 As can be easily seen, the bird meets none of these requirements for flight, so it is quite unlikely that it ever flew or that accurate replicas could fly. [Orcutt 2001]”

He also shows several examples of the mast mounted birds that look very much like the Bird, and has a link though to a report on the replication and attempted flight of the Bird.

Next, let’s look at the Tolima Artifacts.

One of several small animal totems.

Again, these are another set of real artifacts recovered in real digs and displayed in real museums. It’s the interpretation of said artifacts that is disputed. Not by anyone who knows anything about them, or the Tolima people, but by Ancient Alien theorists and such. These little gold charms are so low-key you’ll be hard pressed to find anything academic on them. However, you can go see them in several museums around America, including the Smithsonian in DC and The Field Museum in Chicago. To the Ancient Alien people though, these small gold artifacts are hard evidence of ancient Jet fighters.

I really can’t even begin to tear this one apart because it’s just so ridiculous to me. Where the Fringe sees an airplane, I see fish and moths. Maybe it’s because I understand that ancient peoples took liberties and stylized their interpretations of their world, especially when it came to ritual items. Maybe it’s because these things don’t look a damn thing like airplanes or jets. IDK.

Da Plane Boss, Da Plane!

But honestly, let’s look at the larger issue with this whole ancient airplane thing, Where are the remains of these planes? Where are the parts, the broken bits, the actual plane themselves? Where is all the stuff associated with flying planes? Where are the airports, the air towers, the luggage claim racks…

If man was making them, where are the production sites? If Aliens flew them down, why is there no physical evidence? What did these things run on? Jet fuel is an expensive, complicated, explosive mix. How did our ancestors make it and not kill themselves?

This brings us to the more imaginative part of this entry, the whole idea that flying carpets, dragons and winged chariots were really ancient man’s way of interpreting ancient flying machines. In order for these ideas to work we have to make several assumptions that no one should be comfortable making.

First, we have to assumes that the mythologies of ALL ancient peoples are accurate and true.

Second, we have to assume that whenever the ancients said “God or Gods” they were really  talking about aliens, they just didn’t know it.

Third, we have to assume that our ancestors were too ignorant of the natural world to understand a non-natural object, and instead of faithfully representing the actual object in story and art, they took artistic liberties to create winged chariots, flying carpets, and yes, Dragons.

Fourth, we have to ignore that our first assumption and our fourth assumption are in opposition.

Fifth, we have to never ask what happened to all the physical evidence advanced machinery would have left behind, or where these “Alien Gods” went to, or why they came or left in the first place.

In order for the Saqqara Bird and the Tolima Artifacts to be real, all these questions and assumptions need to be addressed. Evidence needs to be produced, and reality itself has to shift. I’ve yet to hear anything resembling a reasonable answer to the logical objections to the idea of ancient airplanes. If one could be provided, it would be the first.

Reinterpreting the Known World.

Another thing sticks out here that is of  some interest, and that is the reinterpreting of actual artifacts. It’s something I’ve noticed the Ancient Alien theorists do often. They take known discoveries and try to make them fit the Alien narrative. They reject documented and researched interpretations by experts and substitute their own, that are often based on nothing more than observing a photograph. I’m often left wondering why? What makes a non-professional individual reject the accepted opinion of a professional and supplement a much less informed opinion instead? Why do they think these two opinions are equal in validity?

This has nothing to do with intelligence, I want that to be clear. It has everything to do with experience and education. All three of those things are separate and are not actually dependent on each other, so none of this “they’re stupid” talk. Irrational? Perhaps. Uniformed? definitely. But not stupid.

Whatever the answer to those questions might be, we in the “Mainstream” will continue to be plagued by weird reinterpreting by the “Fringe”. Which leads to the other problem I have with this kind of thing, misinformation.

Regardless if the misinformation is being distributed knowingly or unknowingly, the biggest problem is that they can put that bad information out there faster than most people can fact-check. Which creates confusion in a normal, rational, individual. What can be done about that?

Critical articles like these, critical arguments, critical thinking, and access to open, honest facts, are the only way to combat this barrage of misinformation. People need access to factual information so that it can be used to counter the bad information. People also need to be taught how to think both skeptically and critically, something a lot of people think they are doing, but in reality are not. I feel that these goals are being met to some degree. Open Access is a huge thing among scientists today, and I think it will only continue to become the norm. That thought gives me hope.

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If you want more on this topic, got to: 10 Most Not So Puzzling Ancient Artifacts.



Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keith

2010 “Egyptian ‘aeroplane’ models?.” Bad Archaeology. Accessed July 9th 2012.

Orcutt, Larry

2001 “Modle Airplane?” Catchpenny’s Mystries of Nacent Egypt Explained. Accessed July 9th 2012.

“The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts.” Accessed April 2 2012.

Categories: 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts, Ancient Astronauts, History Channel, Rants, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Between the Nasca Lines pt 1: What is a Cargo Cult?

*** Looking over my old blog, I realized there are several posts that I wanted to move over to this blog. So here is the start of my first series, Between the Nazca Lines. Enjoy the blast from the past!***

In preparing my series on Ancient Astronauts, I encountered a few problems I hadn’t anticipated, though maybe I should have looking back now. Mainly the problem is a lack of understanding of the terms being and ideas being used. Things like why a myth is a myth, or why Archaeologists except certain views over others. If you’re not well versed in these reasons, it can seem a little biased and possibly lead to confusion, like in what the term “quantum” means. So, when I saw Von Daniken and his ilk using the term “Cargo Cult” to describe the Nazca lines, I realized many people may not understand what he’s saying.

In order to give the fullest amount of information possible, I need to back up a little. I want to start with a new set of nearly basic terms. This time I want to introduce to you what Cargo Cults are.

So briefly, what is a Cargo Cult?

It is a phenomenon when less advanced cultures encounter more advanced cultures and 1) regard the advanced peoples as supernatural beings whose purpose is to deliver goods (cargo) and 2) use mimicry or pantomime to create ritual in hopes of resumed delivery of such goods.

Probably the most famous Cargo Cult is the Cult of John Frum, worshiped in the South Pacific by the Vanuatu tribe. As many origin stories do this one has many versions, but the jest of it goes; John Frum was a U.S. Sailor that come to the islands during WWII. He brought with him cargo ships and gave freely to the people there. When it was time for him to leave, he told the people he would return and bring with him more cargo, and so the people wait for him to do so.

Devotees raise old glory on John Frum Day.

Unsurprisingly, the John Frum myth has evolved to fit into to it the problems of the modern Vanuatu. In an article by the BBC News,

“Villagers believe the spirit of John Frum sent the US military to their South Pacific home to help them.

Devotees say that an apparition of John Frum first appeared before tribal elders in the 1930s.

He urged them to rebel against the aggressive teachings of Christian missionaries and instead said they should put their faith in their own customs.” [1]

With the invasion of Christian missionaries and the loss of the WWII cargo the Vanuatu have turned John Frum into a strange hybrid of a rebellion leader with a love of tradition. So what started as a desire to have their golden age back has turned to a rallying cry to return to traditional ways, with a twist. Probably the best quote for this cult is given by Chief Isaac one of the top leaders in the cult. In a Smithsonian article by Paul Raffaele, Raffaele asks Chief Isaac why they still wait for John Furm’s return,

An altar celebrates Frum’s native land, with blackboards bearing instructions to the faithful.

“Chief Isaac shoots me an amused look. “You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth,” he says, “and you haven’t given up hope.”[2]

Brian Dunning does an excellent job of delving deeper into the causes of the John Furm cult, and the complicated circumstances that led to the formation of the cult. I highly recommend reading his article. [3]

So the argument that is being made by Ancient Astronauts is that primitive peoples after encountering the Aliens in some way, became so enamored by their cosmic cargo that when the Aliens left, the peoples started cargo cuts in the hopes that the Aliens would return. Citing the return of Jesus and other similar deities as evidence. For something a little more physical as proof, they point to the Nazca lines saying that these are certainly primitive attempts at landing strips.

At first blush this might seem logical. If you knew nothing more about the lines then that they are carved out of the red rock in Nazca in long lines, then it might seem reasonable. When you began to look at the curves and pictures the lines take on then you hopefully began to doubt this.

There have been many, many suggestions as to what the lines really are, from giant astrological maps to markers of underground waterways. [4] All of these have more evidence supporting them than the idea of Aliens ever will. In the next part of this we’ll go over the past research on the lines and new accepted purpose of the lines.


Brian Dunning
2010 Skeptoid #199. March 30, 2010. Accessed December 5th 2010.

Carr, Tarini
N.d. The Nazca Lines: A Mystery on the Plains. Archaeology Online. Accessed December 5th 2010.

Mercer, Phil.
2007 Vanuatu cargo cult marks 50 years. BBC News, Tanna, Thursday, 15 February 2007. Accessed December 5th 2010.

Raffaele, Paul
2006      In John They Trust. Smithsonian magazine, February 2006. Accessed December 5th 2010.

Categories: Ancient Astronauts, Between the Nazca Lines, Weird Archaeology | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Between the Nazca Lines: Evidence vs. “I Wanna Believe”

Well, we now know what a Cargo Cult is, and we are now up to date on the recent research into the Nasca Lines. What I haven’t brought you completely up to date on is the actual Ancient Alien Theory explanation of the Nazca lines. The History Channel sums it up pretty succinctly:

Great Images being deliberately misinterpreted by the History Channel.

“The Nazca Lines

Etched into a high plateau in Peru’s Nazca Desert, a series of ancient designs stretching more than 50 miles has baffled archaeologists for decades. Along with simple lines and geometric shapes, they include drawings of animals, birds and humans, some measuring more than 600 feet across. Because of their colossal size, the figures can only be appreciated from way up in the air—and there is no evidence that the Nazca people, who inhabited the area between 300 B.C. and 800 A.D., invented flying machines. According to ancient alien theorists, the figures were used to guide spaceships as they came in for a landing, and the lines served as runways.”[History 2011]

Never mind the screamingly obvious problems with the description, it does do a good job of summing up what most people think of the Nazca lines, inaccuracies and all.

(Trapezoid Line)

This idea that the lines were used as landing strips seems to come from the presence of the long trapezoidal geoglyphs and the supposed evidence of a leveled mountain top. Von Daniken mentions this in his books, but I haven’t found reference to it, or concern about it, in any of the research. Still, these ideas persist.So, the theory goes that the lines were laid either by man or alien in order to direct and provide a location for space ship landings. Tying this into the Cargo Cult connection; after the Aliens stopped coming to earth with their cargo, we humans began to build a religion around them, attempting to bring our alien saviors back to earth with misinterpreted ritual.

Websites abound on the Internet and even the History Channel, which has produced two seasons of a show called Ancient Aliens, tout belief in and even evidence of aliens. You can find lots of people who are ready to explain the Ancient Alien Theory and tell you all about the evidence supporting it. Not too surprising the Nazca lines fall into this category of evidence.

Even after the modern research mentioned in my last post, these sites still claim that the lines cannot be explained, that scientist still search for an explanation to the cause of the lines, even though this is not true. The reality is that we do have both really good explanations and building methods that require little more than a stick and some string.

(The actual Condor geoglyph)

Well known Skeptic, Joe Nickell, was able to reconstruct the geoglyphs in a remarkably short time using basic, simply reproduced, and most certainly available instruments for the time. Nickell’s, his two cousins, a friend, his 11-year old nephew, and father reproduced the 440 foot long Condor in just over a day and a half (baring time off due to rain) [Nickell1983]. They used merely a knotted rope, stakes, and a T-square they constructed from two pieces of wood. I really recommend the article; it’s a pretty good example of how the Nazca and their ancestors could have produced the geoglyphs without alien help.

(This is the Condor re-produced by Nickell et al. [Nickell1983])

So, now we know how the glyphs were probably made, we have a pretty solid theory onwhy the glyphs were made, we even know a fair bit about the culture of the Nazca (though I haven’t touched on that here). We’ve got the How, the Why, the When, and even the Where. At every point we know humans did this, and not once is an outside force required to accomplish any of it.

Nickell also makes a point about the whole “They can ONLY be seen from the SKY” statement:

“It is frequently asserted that the Nazca drawings are recognizable only from the air. That is not quite true, certainly not of the smaller figures, such as the effigy of a fish, which is only 80 feet long (Reiche 1976). Neither is it true of some drawings — attributed to the Nazcas’ predecessors — that are found on hill slopes (McIntyre 1975; Isbell 1978, 1980). Here, seemingly, is a clue to how the Nazcas could have been confident of the accuracy of their method of enlargement. Once a technique was found to be successful for producing large drawings on slopes, where they could actually be viewed from the ground, the same technique could be expected to consistently yield good results — wherever figures were drawn and whatever their size.” [Nickell1983]

This point was also made by The Nazca-Palpa Project in 2007 [Isla 2007], where they not only dated the geoglyphs and gave sequence order to the deposition, they remarked that the smaller glyphs could be seen from a short distance, like from a slope [Isla 2007].

I would hope at this point that I’ve provided enough evidence to remove aliens from the picture. I can show that the geoglyphs were most probably a cultural tool used to create a sense of community and possibly served ritual purposes dating from about 400 BC till sometime after 600 AD [Isla 2007]. I have shown that they could have been created using nothing more than a sketch, knotted rope, and T-square [Nickell1983], all of which was available in that time period. There is also the well known C-14 dates of the pottery sherds and burials associated with the lines, which help us put the lines into context [Isla 2007, Nickell1983]. There is no need to add aliens to the mix, they are unnecessary. They create a complication that is not needed since everything has a simple, human explanation.

As I say in all my presentations, if you are a True Believer, there isn’t a damn thing I can provide to change your mind. All the evidence in the world will be wasted on you, but if you came to this looking to have a few questions answered, I can help you there.


The History Channel
2011 Evidence of Ancient Aliens? The History Channel website. Jan 25, 2011.

Nickell, Joe
1983  The Nazca Drawings Revisited: Creation of a Full-Sized Condor. Skeptical Inquirer MagazineVolume 7.3, Spring 1983. Jan 25, 2011.

Isla, Johny
2007 Nazca-Palpa Project: Photogrammetric Reconstruction of the Geoglyphs of Nazca and Palpa. January 2007 Accessed Jan 09, 2011.

Categories: Ancient Astronauts, Between the Nazca Lines, Cult Science, History Channel, Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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