Friday, April 30, 2010
OK, I'm going on a little rant today. There's a new series on the history channel called Ancient Astronauts, wherein we are told that whenever our ancestors referred to gods they were really talking about aliens coming down from the stars to bring wisdom to our poor, ignorant human race. They helped us to build pyramids all over the world, levitate stones for Stonehenge and otherwise bring us enlightenment. Oh please - what a load of crap. Are we really to believe that aliens came billions of miles across the universe just so they could help us build huge stone structures? The advocates of alien visitation also seem to ignore the fact that while the Egyptians built pyramids between 2630 and 1814 BC, Mayan pyramids (for example) weren't built until at the earliest 1000 BC, and the most famous was probably built by 250 AD. So I guess those aliens were visiting for thousands of years and the best they could come up with was stone pyramids. By the way, aside from a basic form, those pyramids (Egyptian and Mayan) don't really look much alike. I suppose the aliens also taught us how to sacrifice each other in bloody rituals that were carried out on many of the Mayan, Incan and especially Aztec pyramids. One commentator suggested that here were our ancestors going along building mud huts and then suddenly they were building enormous monuments out of stone. Well, no, they also built enormous monuments out of mud brick - but when the occasional rain storm came along the mud brick tens to turn back into mud, so they probably figured if we want it to last we gotta build it out of stone. Some of the Ziggurats (also pyramidal structures) in what is now Iran and Iraq, were built of mud brick and didn't fare so well over time. If the aliens were really going to be so helpful maybe they should have taught our ancient ancestors to make plastic - our own plastic bottles will be in landfills for thousands of years. Or maybe concrete - easier on the backs. Another commentator thought that the precise cuts of the stones were beyond our poor ignorant ancestor's ability to cut with primitive tools, but again I might direct their attention to Egypt, where there's an unfinished obelisk in the ground. The Egyptians were cutting it out of a huge piece of rock when it cracked and they just walked away so you can actually see how it was being done. They were using round stones a bit larger than a softball and pounding the rock thousands of times to cut out the stone, sharp edges and all. When they were done they would then move the obelisk to the shore, load it on a boat, float it to the correct location and then erect it using ropes and sand. No laser drills or levitation devices required - just a lot of time and manpower and the will to accomplish a task. I know a lot of people like this whole "Chariots of the Gods" stuff, and it makes an interesting science fiction yarn, but I didn't expect the History Channel to be catering to this fringe element of pseudo-science. I think the bottom line here is that our ancient ancestors who built the pyramids and did many other amazing (and sometimes terrible) things were just as smart as you or I. Intelligence hasn't changed much in 5,000 years - our technology just got better as we tried to find our way in the universe.