Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter
Ancient astronaut theories are as plentiful as the oxygen in our atmosphere. Many are based on paintings on cave walls or large scale designs on the ground that can only be seen from the air. These theories are not new nor will they ever go away. Several of them have been created to explain ancient building and phenomenon that much the way that people of the Dark Ages created demons to explain every sickness known to man. Some go so far as to say that all of the gods of time past were extraterrestrials suing their advanced science to awe a less advanced society and gain power over them.
One of the best know proponents theory of ancient astronauts is Zecharia Sitchin. He proposed that a planet (Planet X or Nibiru) exists in an elongated, elliptical orbit in our own solar system. Sitchin attributes the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the Annunaki, a race of aliens from Nibiru. His speculations are entirely discounted by scientists and archeologists who can show many problems with his translations of ancient texts and his understanding of physics.
Another proponent of the presence of the ancient astronaut was Erich von Daniken. His theories were based on the belief that many large scale constructions of the ancient past could done have been performed by humans with the technology of our planet at the time. Some examples of these works are the pyramids of Eygpt, the Moai of Eater Island, Stonehenge, and the ancient electric batteries found in Baghdad. Von Daniken postulated that ancient art and iconography around the ancient world illustrates air and space vehicles, non-human intelligent creatures, the ever present ancient astronaut and artifacts of an unbelievably advanced technology. He also claims that geographically separated historical cultures share similar themes, which he thinks should show a common origin. One example is his interpretation of the sarcophagus lid of the Mayan ruler of Palenque, Pacal. Von Daniken claimed the design represented a seated astronaut, despite the fact that the iconography and accompanying Mayan text describes it as a portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree of Mayan mythology.
These are only two of the better know proponents of the ancient astronaut. Others have taken the belief one step further and turned it into a quasi-religion. Raelism, is a religious movement created by Claude Vorilhon, better known as Rael. Raelism teaches that all life on Earth was created by humanoid extraterrestrials called Elohim. Members, who are known as Raëlians, believe that the Elohim periodically contacted ancient civilizations through prophets such as Buddah and Jesus Christ. Each prophet carried messages compatible with human development at the time, resulting in differing world religions. Members believe that Rael is the latest of the Elohim’s prophets, and the first to reveal the truth about humanity’s creation.
Some believers of the ancient astronaut cite religious texts to support their theories. Flying machines are vividly mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts from India. In the Book of Ezekiel there is a description of a flying object that is seen as a fiery whirlwind which appeared to be made of metal. It is described as a wheel within a wheel and containing four occupants. These occupants were living creatures, who looked like 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. The book of Genesis(6:1-4) also tells us of such an encounter where the “sons of heaven” had intercourse with the “daughters of man” which produced the Nephilim. The Book of Enoch tells of flying objects and beings called “the Watchers” who had mutinied from “heaven” and descended to earth. Enoch goes on to say that he is taken on journeys to various corners of the Earth in the object and at one point travels to the heavens. All are used to show proof that ancient believers were influenced by extraterrestrials.
No serious evidence has ever been provided to convince scientists any of these “ancient astronaut” theories are legitimate.
Many of the ancient astronaut theories are described at this link. Here on Universe Today we have a great article about the theory that a UFO destroyed the Tunguska meteorite in 1908. Astronomy Cast offers a good episode about the Planet X that some think could be Nibiru.