Ancient Astronaut Theory

Ancient Alien Theory

Most people believe in aliens – from ancient visitors to modern day extraterrestrial encounters. Clearly the creation myths of each ancient civilization discuss alien gods who descended from the sky for any number of reasons, some of who allegedly mated with human woman to create a bloodlines.

Sumerian God Anu

Is he holding the mythical Holy Grail cup?

Sumerian Artifacts, British Museum

Zecharia Sitchin
– Anunnaki Theory of Creation

Did ancient astronauts seed the human race? If so, what was their agenda? Have these ancient astronauts used planet Earth as a place for their ‘science projects’, creating race after race using biogenetic manipulation, then wiping everything out and starting again?

According to ancient alien theorists, most of whom have researched the topic for decades, extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of science and engineering landed on Earth thousands of years ago, sharing their expertise with early civilizations and forever changing the course of human history. To this day researchers look for evidence to support this theory.

Ancient alien theory grew out of the centuries-old idea that life exists on other planets, and that humans and extraterrestrials have crossed paths before. The theme of human-alien interaction was thrust into the spotlight in the 1960s, driven by a wave of UFO sightings and popular films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The space program played no small part in this as well … if mankind could travel to other planets, why couldn¹t extraterrestrials visit Earth?

Also in 1968, Swiss researcher and author Erich von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods, which became an immediate bestseller. In it, he put forth his hypothesis that, the technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by space travelers who were welcomed as gods. He is regarded by many as the father of ancient alien theory, also known as the ancient astronaut theory. Since that time, he has written many other books and appeared in media presenting physical proof of his theories. In 2010 he appeared in the History Channel mini series, "Ancient Aliens".

The types of evidence von Däniken cites can be categorized as follows:

The existence of structures and artifacts have been found which represent higher technological knowledge than is presumed to have existed at the times they were manufactured. Däniken maintains that these artifacts were produced either by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from them.

These artifacts include the Moai of Easter Island

Egyptian Pyramids


Submerged Cities thousands of years old

Humans could not have designed and constructed them

The medieval map known as the Piri Reis Map

allegedly shows the Earth as it is seen from space

Nazca Lines of Peru

which von Däniken believes was a landing strips or airfield

Art History

Interpretations of ancient artwork throughout the world as depictions of astronauts, air and space vehicles, extraterrestrials, and complex technology. Däniken also describes elements that he believes are similar in art of unrelated cultures.

Explanations for the origins of religions as reactions to contact with an alien race, including interpretations of the Old Testament of the Bible. According to von Däniken, humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural and the aliens themselves to be gods. Däniken asks if the oral and literal traditions of most religions contain references to visitors from stars and vehicles traveling through air and space.


These, he says, should be interpreted as literal descriptions which have changed during the passage of time and become more obscure. Examples such as: Ezekiel’s revelation in Old Testament, which he interprets as a detailed description of a landing spacecraft with angels in the likeness of man. Moses and the directions ‘God’ gave him to construct the Ark of the Covenant, which is assumed to be a communication device with an alien race. Lot and his extended family being ordered by human like ‘angels’ to go to the mountains, due to the destruction of the city of Sodom by God. His wife looked back at the possible nuclear explosion, and falling "dead on the spot". Däniken attempts to draw an analogy with the "cargo cults" that formed during and after World War II, when once-isolated tribes in the South Pacific mistook the advanced American and Japanese soldiers for gods.

If aliens visited Earth in the past, could they make an appearance in the future? For ancient alien theorists, the answer is a resounding yes. They believe that, by sharing their views with the world, they can help prepare future generations for the inevitable encounter that awaits them.

In China we find theories about an alien race

called the Dropa who left behind fascinating discs.

The MayanPopol Vuh, states,

"Men came from the stars, knowing everything, and they examined
the four corners of the sky and the Earth’s round surface."

One has to wonder where the ancient Maya got their advanced
knowledge in astronomy, mathematics, and other physical sciences.

Mayan Calendar


The Mayan Chilam Balaam texts stated,
"Beings descended from the sky in flying vessels…
white men in flying rings, who can touch the sky."


Petroglyphs found on cave and mountain walls in many parts of the world,

imply that ancient aliens may have visited the planet.

I am an ancient astronauts theorist. The signs are there. The symbols are there. Human consciousness is awakening to the greater truth of its origins. As we search for the truth behind the illusion about who created the human race, or biogenetic experiment, we look to those who came from the stars, ancient astronauts, creation gods, for our answers. Reality is consciousness created in the matrix of time. Soon the truth will be known as the hologram of our reality concludes and we move into something else.




Ancient astronauts



Ancient paintings from Val Camonica, Italy are believed to depict forgotten deities; ancient astronaut proponents claim these pictures resemble modern day astronauts despite being painted ca. 10,000 BC.

According to certain authors, intelligent extraterrestrial beings called ancient astronauts or ancient aliens have visited Earth, and this contact is connected with the origins or development of humancultures, technologies, and religions. A common variant of the idea include proposals that deities from most, if not all, religions are actually extraterrestrials, and their technologies were taken as evidence of their divine status.[1][2] These proposals have been popularized, particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, by writers Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Robert K. G. Temple, and David Icke.[3] Ancient astronauts have been widely used as a plot device in science fiction, but the idea that ancient astronauts actually existed is not taken seriously by most academics, and has received little or no credulous attention in peer reviewed studies.


Proponents of ancient astronaut theories often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of beings who landed on Earth thousands of years ago. An associated idea is that much of human knowledge, religion, and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times, in that ancient astronauts acted as a “mother culture”. Other proposals include the idea that civilization may have evolved on Earth twice, and that the visitation of ancient astronauts may reflect the return of descendants of ancient humans whose population was separated from earthbound humans.[citation needed] These ideas are generally discounted if not ridiculed by the academic and skeptical communities.[4]

Proponents argue that the evidence for ancient astronauts comes from supposed gaps in historical and archaeological records, and they also maintain that absent or incomplete explanations of historical or archaeological data point to the existence of ancient astronauts. The evidence is said to include archaeological artifacts that they argue are anachronistic or beyond the presumed technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated (sometimes referred to as "Out-of-place artifacts"); and artwork and legends which are interpreted as depicting extraterrestrial contact or technologies.

Mainstream academics, when they comment at all on such proposals, have responded that gaps in contemporary knowledge of the past need not demonstrate that such speculative ancient astronaut ideas are a necessary, or even plausible, conclusion to draw.[5] Academic researchers in related disciplines generally maintain that there is no evidence to support the proposals of ancient astronauts or paleocontact. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, however strongly believed in what he called panspermia, the concept that earth was ‘seeded’ with life, probably in the form of bluegreen algae, by intelligent extraterrestrial species, for the purpose of ensuring life’s continuity. He believed that this could have been done on any number of planets of this class, possibly using unmanned shuttles. He talks at length about this theory in his book Life Itself.

Scientific consideration

In their 1966 book Intelligent Life in the Universe[6] astrophysicists I.S. Shklovski and Carl Sagan devote a chapter[7] to arguments that scientists and historians should seriously consider the possibility that extraterrestrial contact occurred during recorded history. However, Shklovski and Sagan stressed that these ideas were speculative and unproven.

Shklovski and Sagan argued that sub-lightspeed interstellar travel by extraterrestrial life was a certainty when considering technologies that were established or feasible in the late ’60s;[8] that repeated instances of extraterrestrial visitation to Earth were plausible;[9] and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with outsiders.[10] Additionally, Shklovski and Sagan cited tales of Oannes, a fishlike being attributed with teaching agriculture, mathematics, and the arts to early Sumerians, as deserving closer scrutiny as a possible instance of paleocontact due to its consistency and detail.[11]

In his 1979 book Broca’s Brain, Sagan[12] suggested that he and Shklovski might have inspired the wave of ’70s ancient astronaut books, expressing disapproval of "von Däniken and other uncritical writers" who seemingly built on these ideas not as guarded speculations but as "valid evidence of extraterrestrial contact." Sagan argued that while many legends, artifacts, and purported out-of-place artifacts were cited in support of ancient astronaut theories, "very few require more than passing mention" and could be easily explained with more conventional theories. Sagan also reiterated his earlier conclusion that extraterrestrial visits to Earth were possible but unproven, and perhaps improbable.

Authors of books and stories on ancient astronauts

Pseudoscientific concepts


Intelligent extraterrestrials visited the Earth in ancient times and profoundly affected the development of human civilization.

Related scientific disciplines


Year proposed


Original proponents

Charles Fort,
Erich von Däniken

Subsequent proponents

Robert K. G. Temple, Zecharia Sitchin, Richard C. Hoagland,Burak Eldem

Ancient astronaut theories can be found in the work of the following authors (listed by year of initial publication):

Erich von Däniken



Sarcophagus lid of Pakal the great, which according to Von Däniken represents an "ancient astronaut" ascending to the stars in his spaceship.

Main article: Erich von Däniken

Erich von Däniken was a leading proponent of this theory in the late 1960s and early 1970s, gaining a large audience through the 1968 publication of his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? and its sequels.

Certain artifacts and monumental constructions are claimed by von Däniken to have required a more sophisticated technological ability in their construction than that which was available to the ancient cultures who constructed them. Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were constructed either directly by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from said visitors. These include Stonehenge, the Moai of Easter Island, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the ancient Baghdad electric batteries.

Von Däniken claims that ancient art and iconography throughout the world illustrates air and space vehicles, non-human but intelligent creatures, ancient astronauts, and artifacts of an anachronistically advanced technology. Von Däniken also claims that geographically separated historical cultures share artistic themes, which he argues imply a common origin. For one such example, is von Däniken’s interpretation of the sarcophagus lid recovered from the tomb of the Classic-era Maya ruler of Palenque, Pacal. Von Däniken claimed the design represented a seated astronaut, whereas the iconography and accompanying Maya text identifies it as a portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree of Maya mythology.

The origins of many religions are interpreted by von Däniken as reactions to encounters with an alien race. According to his view, humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural and the aliens themselves to be gods. Von Däniken claims that the oral and written traditions of most religions contain references to alien visitors in the way of descriptions of stars and vehicular objects travelling through air and space. One such is Ezekiel‘s revelation in the Old Testament, which Däniken interprets as a detailed description of a landing spacecraft.

Von Däniken’s theories became popularized in the U.S. after the NBC-TV documentary In Search Of Ancient Astronauts hosted by Rod Serling and the movie Chariots of the Gods.

Critics argue that von Däniken misrepresented data, that many of his claims were unfounded, and that none of his core claims has been validated.[14]

Zecharia Sitchin

Main article: Zecharia Sitchin

Zecharia Sitchin’s series The Earth Chronicles, beginning with The 12th Planet, revolves around Sitchin’s interpretation of ancient Sumerian and Middle Eastern texts, megalithic sites, and artifacts from around the world. He theorizes the gods of old Mesopotamia were actually astronauts from the planet "Nibiru", which Sitchin claims the Sumerians believed to be a remote "12th planet" (counting the Sun, Moon, and Pluto as planets) associated with the god Marduk. According to Sitchin, Nibiru continues to orbit our sun on a 3,600-year elongated orbit. Sitchin also suggests that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is the shattered remains of the ancient planet "Tiamat", which he claims was destroyed in one of Niburu’s orbits through the solar system. Modern astronomy has found no evidence to support Sitchin’s claims[citation needed].

According to Sitchin, the Sumerians relate how 50 Anunnaki, the inhabitants of Nibiru, came to Earth approximately 400,000 years ago with the intent of mining raw materials, especially gold, for transport back to Nibiru. With their small numbers they soon tired of the task and set out to genetically engineer laborers to work the mines. After much trial and error they eventually created homo sapiens sapiens: the "Adapa" (model man) or Adam of later mythology. Sitchin claims the Anunnaki were active in human affairs until their culture was destroyed by global catastrophes caused by the abrupt end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago. Seeing that humans survived and all they had built was destroyed, the Anunnaki left Earth after giving humans the opportunity and means to govern themselves.

Robert Temple

Main article: Robert K. G. Temple

Robert K. G. Temple’s 1976 book, The Sirius Mystery argues that the Dogon people of northwestern Mali preserved an account of extraterrestrial visitation from around 5,000 years ago. He quotes various lines of evidence, including supposed advanced astronomical knowledge inherited by the tribe, descriptions, and comparative belief systems with ancient civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Sumer. His work draws heavily on the studies of cultural anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen.[15]

His conclusions have been criticized by scientists, who point out discrepancies within Temple’s account, and suggested that the Dogon may have received some of their astronomical information recently, probably from European sources, and may have misrepresented Dogon ethnography.[16][17][18]

UFO religions

Main article: UFO religion

Various UFO religions including theosophy, Nation of Islam, Scientology, The Urantia Book, Raëlism, and Heaven’s Gate dogmatically accept ancient and present-day contact with extraterrestrial intelligence as a matter of faith. Many of these faiths rely on the reinterpreting various ancient scriptures and new revelations as being associated with the action of super-intelligent aliens and technologically-advanced spacecraft. Sociologists and psychologists who have examined New Religious Movements which engage with these themes have noted parallels between amongst these religions which suggest a conscious or unconscious parallel acceptance of the associations between enchantment and the memes of science fiction.[19]

Evidence cited by proponents

Religious texts

Proponents cite ancient mythologies to support their viewpoints based on the idea that ancient creation myths of gods who descend from the heavens to Earth to create or instruct humanity are actually representations of alien visitors, whose superior technology accounts for their reception as gods. Proponents attempt to draw an analogy to occurrences in modern times when isolated cultures are exposed to Western technology, such as when, in the early 20th century, "cargo cults" were discovered in the South Pacific: cultures who believed various Western ships and their cargo to be sent from the gods as fulfillment of prophecies concerning their return.[20]

Flying machines are sometimes mentioned in ancient texts; one example is the Vimanas, mythological flying machines found in the Hindu epics. These tales range from fantastic aerial battles employing various weaponry, to the mundane relating simple technical information, flight procedure, and flights of fancy. (See also Vaimanika Shastra, a text on Vimanas supposedly "channeled" in the early 20th century.)[21]


In the Biblical Old Testament, the Book of Ezekiel tells of a flying object seen as a fiery whirlwind which when descended to the ground gave the appearance of being made of metal. It is described among other things as a wheel within a wheel containing four occupants, "living creatures", whose likeness was that of man. The passage goes on to say that wherever the wheels went the creatures went, and when the living creatures were lifted up the wheels were lifted up.[22] In chapter 4 of Chariots of the Gods?, entitled, “Was God an Astronaut?” von Däniken refers to the vision of Ezekiel, suggesting Ezekiel had seen a spaceship, a comparison Morris Jessup had made in 1956.[23]


In the Book of Genesis, Genesis 6:1-4 states that "When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose… The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them." In the King James Version they are identified as "giants".

The Nephilim are perhaps children of the fallen angels, although scholars are uncertain.[24] Erich von Däniken sees an extraterrestrial connection in this passage, and suggests that here “we have the sons of God, who interbreed with human beings.” [25]

Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman argue that UFOs carry the fallen angels, or offspring of fallen angels, the Nephilim of Genesis, who have now returned. They believe it was this interbreeding between the angels and humans that led to what they call “the gene pool problem.” Noah was perfect in his “generations,” that is “Noah’s genealogy was not tarnished by the intrusion of fallen angels. It seems that this adulteration of the human gene pool was a major problem on the planet earth.” [26]

Von Däniken also suggests that the two angels who visited Lot in Genesis 19 were not angels, but ancient astronauts. They may have used atomic weapons to destroy the city of Sodom. In any case, the otherworldly beings acted as if there was a time set for Sodom’s destruction. Von Däniken questioned why God would work on a timetable and why an "infinitely good Father" would give "preference to ‘favorite children,’ such as Lot’s family, over countless others."[27]

Other Old Testament passages

In several chapters of the Old Testament God is depicted as traveling as a column of smoke and/or fire[28] and making the sound of a trumpet.[29] These descriptions also describe Yahweh as having a physical presence,[30] rather than an abstraction. Yahweh is described raining lightning[31] and stones[32] down upon the enemies of the Hebrews. However, descriptions of the Hebrew God have also featured protecting wings and outstretched arms in the Psalms, features which may be considered contrary to theories of mechanical manifestations of God.[33][citation needed]

Additionally, the characteristics of the Ark of the Covenant and the Urim and Thummim are identified as suggesting high technology, perhaps from alien origins.[34]

Apocryphal writings

The apocryphal Book of Enoch tells of similar flying objects and beings called "the Watchers" who have mutinied from "heaven" and descended to earth, but goes further in that Enoch is taken on journeys to various corners of the Earth in the object and at one point even travels to the heavens.[35]

Artifacts and artwork

Alleged physical evidence includes the discovery of artifacts in Egypt (the Saqqara Bird) and ColombiaEcuador, which are claimed to be similar to modern planes and gliders,[36] although these have been interpreted by archaeologists as stylized representations of birds and insects.



"The Baptism of Christ", 1710, byAert de Gelder

More support of this theory draws upon what are claimed to be representations of flying saucers in medieval and renaissance art.[37] This is used to support the ancient astronaut theory by attempting to show that the creators of humanity return to check up on their creation throughout time.

Other artistic support for the ancient astronaut theory has been sought in Palaeolithic cave paintings.[citation needed] Wondjina in Australia and Val Camonica in Italy (seen above) are claimed to bear a resemblance to present day astronauts.[citation needed] Supporters of the ancient astronaut theory sometimes claim that similarities such as dome shaped heads, interpreted as beings wearing space helmets, prove that early man was visited by an extraterrestrial race.[38]

Nazca Lines

The ancient Nazca Lines comprise hundreds of enormous ground drawings etched into the high desert landscape of Peru, which consist primarily of geometric shapes, but also include depictions of a variety of animals and at least one human figure. Many believers in ancient astronauts cite the Nazca lines as evidence because the figures created by the lines are most clearly depicted or only able to be seen when viewed from the air. Writing professor Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky, using only technology he believed to be available to people of the time, was able to recreate one of the larger figures with a reasonable degree of accuracy.[39]

Monumental architecture

Evidence for ancient astronauts is claimed to include the existence of ancient monuments and megalithic ruins such as the Giza pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru, or Baalbek in Lebanon, and the Moai ofEaster Island.[citation needed] Supporters contend these stone structures could not have been built with the technical abilities and tools of the people of the time and further argue that many could not be duplicated even today. They suggest that the large size of the building stones, the precision with which they were laid, and the distances many were transported leaves the question open as to who constructed these sites. These contentions are categorically rejected by mainstream archeology. Some mainstream archeologists have participated in experiments to move large megaliths. These experiments have succeeded in moving megaliths up to at least 40 tons,[40][41] and they have speculated that with a larger workforce larger megaliths could be towed with ancient technology.[42] Such allegations are not unique in history, however, as similar reasoning lay behind the wonder of theCyclopean masonry walling at Mycenaean cities in the eyes of Greeks of the following "Dark Age," who believed that the giant Cyclopes had built the walls.


Despite the proponents’ own interpretations of ancient writings and artifacts, there has yet to be found any hard evidence to support the ancient astronaut hypothesis.

Alan F. Alford, author of Gods of the New Millennium (1996), was an adherent of the ancient astronaut theory. Much of his work draws on Sitchin’s theories. However, he now finds fault with Sitchin’s theory after deeper analysis, stating that: “I am now firmly of the opinion that these gods personified the falling sky; in other words, the descent of the gods was a poetic rendition of the cataclysm myth which stood at the heart of ancient Near Eastern religions.”[43]

In a 2004 article in Skeptic Magazine,[44] Jason Colavito states that von Däniken plagiarized many of the book’s concepts from Le Matin des Magiciens, that this book in turn was heavily influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos, and that the core of the ancient astronaut theory originates in H. P. Lovecraft‘s short stories "The Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Mountains of Madness".


Ancient Alien – Theory
According to ancient alien theorists, extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of science and engineering landed on Earth thousands of years ago, sharing their expertise with early civilizations and forever changing the course of human history. But how did this concept develop, and is there any evidence to support it?
Ancient alien theory grew out of the centuries-old idea that life exists on other planets, and that humans and extraterrestrials have crossed paths before. The theme of human-alien interaction was thrust into the spotlight in the 1960s, driven by a wave of UFO sightings and popular films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. The space program played no small part in this as well: If mankind could travel to other planets, why couldn’t extraterrestrials visit Earth?
In 1968, the Swiss author Erich von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods?, which became an immediate bestseller. In it, he put forth his hypothesis that, thousands of years ago, space travelers from other planets visited Earth, where they taught humans about technology and influenced ancient religions. He is regarded by many as the father of ancient alien theory, also known as the ancient astronaut theory.
Most ancient alien theorists, including von Däniken, point to two types of evidence to support their ideas. The first is ancient religious texts in which humans witness and interact with gods or other heavenly beings who descend from the sky—sometimes in vehicles resembling spaceships—and possess spectacular powers. The second is physical specimens such as artwork depicting alien-like figures and ancient architectural marvels like Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.
If aliens visited Earth in the past, could they make an appearance in the future? For ancient alien theorists, the answer is a resounding yes. They believe that, by sharing their views with the world, they can help prepare future generations for the inevitable encounter that awaits them.
Ancient Aliens – The Mission
If ancient aliens visited Earth, what was their mission, and is there evidence that points to when they will return? Ancient Sumerian tablets describe an alien race, known as the Anunnaki, who came to Earth to mine for gold. Egyptian hieroglyphs depict hybrid creatures that were part man, part animal. Mysterious crop circles and unexplainable crystal skulls are thought to contain messages that man has yet to decipher. Strange evidence may exist in multiple cultures throughout history suggesting that aliens came here to explore, excavate raw materials, experiment on human beings, and even for pure conquest.
Ancient Aliens – The Visitors
If ancient aliens visited Earth, who were they, and where did they come from? Possible historic evidence and beliefs are examined around the world. The Dogon people possess knowledge of a galaxy they claim was given to them by a star god named Amma. The Hopi and Zuni people celebrate Kachinas, gods from the sky, whose headdresses and costumes appear to resemble modern helmets and protective clothing. Halfway around the world, Chinese legends tell of the Han leader, Huangdi, arriving on Earth on a flying, yellow dragon. Was this dragon more likely a spacecraft? Ancient astronaut theorists believe that these are far from chance encounters and that extraterrestrials not only interacted with us, but changed the course of human history.
Ancient Aliens – The Evidence
If ancient aliens visited Earth, what was their legacy, and did they leave behind clues that exist in plain sight such as sophisticated aircraft, complex electrical grids, and intricate construction machinery? Indian Sanskrit texts, dating back to 6000 B.C., describe in varying but vivid detail flying machines called Vimanas. Megalithic stone structures in Egypt reveal evidence of precision saw work. Interpretations of the Jewish Zohar writings offer depictions of a life-sustaining manna machine, eerily similar to chlorella algae processing systems today. Are these examples of modern technology, or is there evidence that these incredible mechanisms existed on Earth thousands of years ago?
Ancient Aliens – Chariots, Gods & Beyond
What if life on Earth began in outer space? Millions of people accept the theory that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago and were worshiped as gods by primitive man. Are monuments like Stonehenge and Easter Island the last remains of an ancient alien visitation? From unexplainable super structures, to knowledge of the solar system, mathematics, and even the ability to make electricity, this special explores evidence of super-human influences on ancient man and embarks on an around-the-world search for answers. It’s an investigation into a theory some believe cannot be true, but many agree cannot be ignored.
Erich von Däniken
Born in Switzerland in 1935, Erich von Däniken is widely regarded as the father of ancient alien theory, also known as ancient astronaut theory. He published his first of 26 books in 1968 while working as the manager of a five-star hotel. In Chariots of the Gods?, Däniken put forth his controversial hypothesis that, thousands of years ago, space travelers from other planets visited Earth, where they taught humans about technology and influenced ancient religions. As evidence, he pointed to religious texts in which heavenly beings with supernatural powers descend from the sky. He also suggested that extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of engineering helped ancient civilizations build architectural marvels like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Maoi statues of Easter Island.

Chariots of the Gods? appeared at a time when aliens and space travel loomed large in film, fiction and popular culture. It was the era of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Däniken’s ideas thrived in this climate, and his book became an immediate bestseller in the United States and Germany. It can now be read in more than 30 languages and has seen 40 printings to date. Over the years, Däniken has attracted a large group of followers, many of whom have conducted and published their own research, although he has also received criticism from some within the scientific community.
For more than four decades, Erich von Däniken has been writing and speaking about the notion that mankind and aliens crossed paths in the distant past. His work has inspired documentary features and television specials while capturing the imaginations of multiple generations of people around the world.
Evidence of Ancient Aliens
Ancient alien theorists like Erich von Däniken believe that, thousands of years ago, extraterrestrials landed on Earth, where they were hailed as gods and helped shape human civilization. But what proof could possibly exist for such an encounter? Proponents of the theory point to two types of evidence: ancient religious texts and physical specimens such as cave drawings, stone sculptures and pyramids. Is your curiosity piqued? Here’s a quick introduction to some of the most famous examples.

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.
Many Sanskrit epics, which were written in India more than two millennia ago, contain references to mythical flying machines called vimanas. Pointing to similarities between descriptions of vimanas and reports by people who claim to have seen UFOs, ancient alien theorists have suggested that astronauts from other planets visited India during ancient times.
The Moai of Easter Island
The Polynesian island of Easter Island is famous for its “maoi”: the 887 giant human figures with enormous heads that guard its coastline. Roughly 500 years old, these monolithic statues stand 13 feet high and weigh 14 tons, but some are twice as tall and much heavier. How could human beings without sophisticated tools or knowledge of engineering craft and transport such incredible structures? Some ancient alien theorists believe it is the work of visiting extraterrestrials who left their mark on the island.
Puma Punku
Located in the Bolivian highlands, Puma Punku is a field of stone ruins scattered with giant, finely carved blocks. Such precise workmanship on a massive scale would have been nearly impossible without modern tools and machines, yet the ruins are more than 1,000 years old. Ancient alien theorists have hypothesized that extraterrestrials with advanced engineering techniques created the site or advised the people who built it.
The Book of Ezekiel
In the Book of Ezekiel, part of the Hebrew bible, a prophet has a vision of a flying vessel accompanied by fire, smoke and a loud noise. Some ancient alien theorists have argued that the vehicle’s design closely mirrors that of a modern spaceship. Rather than a divine intervention, then, perhaps the text describes an early encounter between humans and alien astronauts.

Pacal’s Sarcophagus
Pacal the Great ruled over the Mayan city of Palenque, in what is now southern Mexico, during the seventh century. Upon his death, he was buried inside a pyramid called the Temple of Inscriptions. The intricately carved lid of his sarcophagus has become a classic work of Mayan art—and an oft-cited piece of evidence for ancient alien theorists. In their view, Pacal is pictured in a spaceship during takeoff, with his hand on a control panel, his foot on a pedal and an oxygen tube in his mouth.