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The Xenophile Historian

K. U. P.

(Kimball's Unauthorized Perversion)

It Must Be The Mystery Factor

This one has to do with the idea that UFOs came here long ago. The success of TV shows like "Stargate SG-1" and "Battlestar Galactica" suggests that this theory is still popular, half a century after Erich von Daniken proposed it.

Let's think about it: if aliens really came here in ancient times, why would they be so fascinated with Egypt? During the Bronze Age the Egyptians were ahead of everybody else in culture and political organization, but they were behind Mesopotamia and India in technology. For example, Egypt didn't start using bronze tools until the end of the Old Kingdom, nearly a thousand years after the Sumerians got them.

I think it has to do with the fact that an air of mystery surrounds Egyptian civilization, and it doesn't completely disappear when folks like us study it. We don't know exactly how the pyramids were built because they did not write any books on how to do it, nor did they give us any pictures showing them building one; therefore some people get the idea that aliens built the pyramids for them.

The real architect of the Great Pyramid was this fellow, Hemiunu. As you can see, he wasn't a space alien, or even from some non-Egyptian nationality. In fact, he was Khufu's vizier, and probably a relative; just the sort of person you would expect to be in charge of building Pharaoh's great memorial. He even looks a little bit like me!

Now take a look at the other civilizations the Von Daniken crowd concentrates its attention on. They talk a lot about possible visits to Iraq, where much has been learned over the past two hundred years, but we still have gaps stretching for at least a century through ancient Mesopotamian history; Peru, where the natives built cities without knowing how to write; Mesoamerica, where archaeologists are in a race to learn all they can about tribes like the Maya before graverobbers and smugglers steal the artifacts; and Easter Island, where only recently have we figured out how those giant statues got there. In all these cases we are dealing with civilizations we don't know much about, so extraterrestrials pop in to fill the gaps in our knowledge. Have you noticed that people don't talk much about ancient astronauts going to the civilizations we know the most about, namely China, Greece and Rome? That gearbox found in an Aegean shipwreck is the only case I can think of where a classical-era artifact was used to suggest alien visits. To sum it up, I'll venture that the more we know about our ancestors, the less likely we are to think that aliens helped them get started.

An online friend of mine pointed out something else worth considering: if extraterrestrials came to earth and used it for a base, where is all the infrastructure? Our two busiest spaceports, Cape Canaveral in Florida and the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, don't launch rockets every day, but still they have a huge complex of support buildings that stretch for miles. We've heard the suggestion that the Nazca lines in Peru could be an ancient landing strip, but if that's the case, where are the passenger terminals, the warehouses, the hangars, the control towers, the landing beacons, the radar stations and the fuel tanks? Where are the roads and the ground vehicles needed to transport people and cargo to and from the spaceships? Why don't we even have electric or fiber optic cables? Can these aliens have been so much neater than us that they left no litter anywhere? Where is the alien equivalent of lost coins and thrown-away beer cans? (See "The Gods Must Be Crazy," one of my all-time favorite movies, for the kind of culture shock an unidentified piece of trash can cause.) So far the only hard evidence for extraterrestrials that I've heard about are a few out-of-place artifacts (ooparts), and they can be just as easily explained as relics from an advanced human culture (I wrote about that in Chapter 9 of The Genesis Chronicles). Therefore, it appears to me that if we ever had visitors from another planet, they didn't stay here very long; they just came and went, the way the Apollo astronauts did on the moon.

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