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Revisited: Ancient Aliens, Season 3 – Episode 6

Aliens. Ancient Engineers. Lasers and stuff. Ancient pyramid complexes are actually giant computer chips. Pre-Colombian and Ancient African societies are obviously not capable of building their own things that they built, or something. Welcome back to another weird and trippy episode of ANCIENT ALIENS!

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So, the narrative that they’re spinning is one where way back in the dawn of time, ancient alien spacecraft with ancient alien astronauts arrived on earth, and they did… lots of weird stuff. Everything that we think of as foundational to our society is actually a direct result of alien interference, including all religion, the human love for gold, and that we exist at all. Also, aliens probably created a hybrid of earthly and alien genetics to create ancient heroes and monsters. Oh, and none of the ancient marvels of engineering were made by people. All of them were because aliens needed to build some sort of either landing pad or power plant or magic wormhole doorway.

So… There’s a couple points that I think are actually interesting, but I don’t think they mean what the show thinks they mean. First, the pyramid complex at Giza is laid out in a very similar fashion to another pyramid complex in Central America. I think that’s pretty interesting. It speaks, I think, to the true similarity of humans, in their aesthetic goals and functional desires. There’s an underlying reality to the materials and tools and cultural modes and movements that expressed across continents and time. I don’t think aliens were using the pretty Brazilian mineral to protect the ancient structure from the heat of power generation, though. You know, there are a lot of mysteries in the ancient world, and whether the pyramids of Egypt and Central America were used to construct a huge powersource for secret alien masters is not… Yeah, that’s not even a rational debate. We make international headlines about raccoons in hats. If there were aliens harnessing their technology for giant power plants and landing pads, people would have, like, talking about that. People would still be talking about that. I don’t mean in a religious re-interpretation of reality way, either.

The second thing that I found interesting was the way otherwise intelligent people and engineers and people who at least aspire to being historical scholars interpret the many fine details of ancient craftsmanship can only believe it is possible if aliens secretly did it for us. Part of the great majesty of the Sphinx or the other gorgeous hieroglyphics and statues of the Egyptian ruins is that they are so marvelously well-made. My wife, in passing, caught a brief moment of the episode and kind of looked befuddled at the men who were befuddled. “Slavery,” she said. These ancient alien experts definitely do not give enough credit to the peculiar institution that existed in Egypt with extant records dating back to at least about 1550 BC, and ending in the 19th century. So, let’s assume that the pyramids, which were built a thousand years or so before these records paint a clear picture of slavery that it is also very likely that forms of forced labor likely already existed in kingdoms that painted their Pharaohs as the living embodiment of divine life. It’s pretty likely, to me, that forced labor had been around for a long time by the time it appeared in surviving bureaucratic notes. And, the teams of dedicated craftsmen who constructed these amazing statues and structures are all lost to history – no name, no biography, nothing – but their work remains, a shore upon which human culture washes against over and over again, a testament to human ingenuity and the power of human hands for four thousand years and more.

This weekend, I was building a little wall and a little gate on my deck to keep my toddling son from stumbling into the stairs and sticks and stones of the dry, desert grasses. I sawed by hand, and measured and drilled. I’m still a little sore from it. (I used a power drill, not a hand drill, but it is one of the few power tools I feel is safe enough to use regularly for a clumsy oaf like me…) I thought about those men who lived four thousand years ago who invented stonework out of inventing tools and fooled a king into believing the monument would be his forever. It was always, ever theirs. Ozymandias, and the lone and level sand.

And, no, it was not aliens. It was never aliens. It was always slaves of the powerful falling into their art and craftsmanship and sweat and duty to construct their own brilliant immortality against their brutal overlords.

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Categories: TV shows

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