Aliens and lost worlds
In Digging up Ancient Aliens, our host Fredrik uses his background in archaeology to discover what is genuine, fake, and somewhere in between on the TV show Ancient Aliens.
This time we’re going to find what once was lost. We’re looking into what Ancient Aliens believe to be lost worlds and trying to find out if that’s the case or if there could be another explanation. This time we will visit the city of Copán located in Honduras, according to some theories, there’s evidence in some statutes of alien visitation. We continue to Nemrud Dagi, where we look into astronomy and explain the origin of the three wise men of the New Testament. We continue to Rappa Nui where we look into the creation and movement of the Moai statues and a strange cult dedicated to the manutara. Lastly, we will see if the origin of humans might have been in the Persian Gulf.
With the latest research, skepticism, and critical thinking, we will find the true origin of our past.
This episode is based on the claims in Ancient Aliens episode four of season three called "Aliens and Lost Worlds" (S03E08).
Chapter 1: Copán (2:20)
Archeology of Copán
Chapter 2: Nemrud Dagi (18:57)
The three wise men
Capter 3: The Nazca Lines (31:55)
How to create a Nazca line
The Nazca Baloon
Chapter 4: Rappa Nui (Easter Island) (38:57)
Tuki stone tools
Chapter 5: The Garden of Eden (49:25)
Sea Level rise
Zacharia Sitchin's translations of Sumerian texts
The two children are running across the field. “Hurry up Tahu! Tiki Tena is making his last walk,” yells one of the children. They pick up the speed, and after getting over a small hill, they finally see it. 19 people, while chanting, are moving a statue on the road; they pull the rope between them back and forth. The statue moves forward as if it’s just out on an afternoon stroll. “I told you, the gods don’t move them. We do!”
Hi, hello, and välkommen to Digging Up Ancient Aliens. This is the podcast where we examine the TV show, Ancient Aliens. Do their claims hold water to an archeologist, or are there better explanations out there?
I am your host, Fredrik, and this is episode 27, where we will explore the lost worlds of alien visitation. In this episode, we will explore Copan, Nemrud Dagi, Peru, and Rappa Nui and could we have found the location of the garden of Eden. Paradise on earth and the origin of humans according to the Abrahamic faiths.
Remember that you can find sources, resources, and reading suggestions on our website, diggingupancientaliens.com. There you also find contact info if you notice any mistakes or have any suggestions. And if you like the podcast, I would appreciate it if you left one of those fancy five-star reviews I've heard so much about.
Now that we have finished our preparations, let’s dig into the episode.
The episode starts quite decent, we have some strange wording, but I think we can let it slide. In this first section, we will deal with the site of Copán. A site that Mayans have occupied since the Preclassic period.
The Mayan civilization consisted of city-states with a local ruler and alliances. They share a common language, culture, and religion but still have variations and regional design and architecture. Even if we can see influences from mostly the larger states trickle down to other places.
Maya history is divided into five periods, Archaic, Preclassic, Classic, Postclassic, and Contact. These are then divided into divisions within these periods. Somewhat similar to Egypt and the Old, Middle, and New kingdom with subsequent periods of intermediate periods. Showing that chronology within archeology can be quite a mess.
The Maya civilization did start roughly around 2000 BCE in the Preclassic period we mentioned before. This period lasted until the classical Maya around 250 CE and the high point of Copán, where we will spend most of our time is within the Early Classic to Terminal Classic.
The occupation of Copán can be dated back to around 1400 BCE. This has been accomplished through several excavations using different methods, such as random systematic stratified unaligned sampling and Obsidian hydration dating. Just to mention two examples. Obsidian hydration dating might be new to you, and you might think that you can’t date a rock, or can you? Since Obsidian is vulcanic glass, it does have a few advantages compared to your ordinary granite when you want to date it. Due to its structure, it has mineral hydration properties, absorbing and storing a fixed amount of water that evaporates at a fixed time rate. If the obsidian is unworked, it usually contains 1% of water. When this evaporates, it leaves a small rind that we can see in a microscope. This dating method is limited; if we want an exact date, we usually need to combine this with a C-14 or other dating method.
In these earlier stages of the site, we can also see some Olmec influences and how the site is slowly growing into a place of importance. But before we get into the classical period, we learn from the show that the Mayans were one of the earliest civilizations that created a written language. But before the Mayan glyphs, we have Olmec writing dating to about 900 BCE. The Maya script is usually set to 300 BCE. Sometimes you feel that the show just says things, so they sound older. Sure the Mayan Glyphs are earlier than Viking runes, but compared to Sumer and Egypt, it’s young. They are not among the first or last, I would put them in the middle, and there’s no judgment in that.
The translation of the glyphs is a captivating story, maybe a little bit out of our scope at the moment. Let me know if you want us to revisit this. It’s a story involving gatekeeping, saving manuscripts from burning buildings during world war 2, and a dramatic breakthrough during a conference. In the mid-1970, we could read a script that mainly the Catholic Church worked hard to eradicate. And it is a beautiful system and, unlike the Egyptian hieroglyphs, gives the author more creative freedom. We can currently read 90% of all glyphs, which is truly amazing.
The period this episode talks about takes place between 420 CE and 830 CE. So we’re well within the Classical period. This classical period started with a rebranding by a ruler named K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ or Great Sun, First Quetzal Macaw. We see a shift and the start of the only dynasty of the site we know about; there were other rulers or Ajaw, but not as known as the ones following Yax K’uk’ Mo’. But he was probably put on the throne here by Teotihuacan, even if it seems Yax originated from Tikal. We have found the grave of this first ruler, so we are sure this is not a mythical founder we see in other locations. The preservation is mainly due to how they built in Copán. Instead of building new, they built on top of other constructions. Especially in the center where the plazas were located.
Haven’t we had a lovely time discussing a little bit of Mayan history? So let’s ruin this a bit and start dissecting what we’re told in the show. After talking a bit about the site and Mayan script, we have Giorgio Tsoukalos join and talk about a couple of the stelae found around Copán. In most cases, these stelae are stone slabs with texts and often pictures. But at Copán, they are more detailed and the rulers depicted are more or less in 3D. They look more like statues if you see them from the front than the classical stelae. According to Tsoukalos, these statues “These statues look like some type of a being wearing an astronaut suit.” We will get to what they depict, but I just wanted to highlight that we again have the “I think it looks weird” argument we have seen so often. But let’s hear what David Childress has to say about these statues.
“This is one of the curious dragon sculptures here at Copán, of which there are many. In fact, this very oriental statues would look right at place in China or some other Oriental country. Some archeologists believe that they are elephants on either side of this Copán ruler. So, why would there be, here at Copán, such Asian motifs as elephants and dragons in a place in Central America that is so far away from China and Southeast Asia? Is there some kind of extraterrestrial connection between the Mayans and the Chinese, and an origin for both that comes from the stars?” - David Childress
This clearly shows that both Tsoukalos and Childress have not spent much time trying to understand the Mayan artwork or even read up on what the texts have to say. If you go to the website, I’ll have some examples of these statues. But they are called Stelae A and Stelae B, very imaginative, I know. These works of art both depict one ruler of Copán named 18 Rabbit. 18 Rabbit, or Uaxaclajuun Ub'aah K'awiil, is the king who created these fantastic stelae with this new shape. The one mentioned by Giorgio depicts a young 18 Rabbit who seems to have recently descended on the throne. Looking closely, you’ll note that the hands are in a delicate position, as the Mayans liked to depict hands. We also see several things associated with ascending the throne within the Mayan tradition. We have the Mat motif, or Pohp icon, a woven fabric associated with wealth and the elite. You can see this within the headdress, which we also find within the braids' serpent bars. We see the motif of death, sacrifice, and rebirth on the sides. Things that, to the Mayans, were clear signs of rulership; they are not trying to describe a space suit. They are trying to show that 18 Rabbit is, by blood, destined to rule. It continues to place Copán among the other important city-states Tikal, Palenque, and Calakmul.
Stelae B that Childress claims to have signs of the orient does not fare better when we start to examine it. We see 18 Rabbit again, but there’s a different story going on this time. He is now a bit older and wants to portray a different but important idea. Here we see motifs of auto-sacrifice. The Mayan rulers would perform bloodletting rituals to get into contact with their ancestors. Mainly by cutting the tongue or their genitalia and drawing blood into a cup. The Childress elephant is, in reality, the earth monster, from which 18 Rabbit emerges from the mouth crowned by two Macaws, symbolizing the supreme royalty. This statue is more about ancestors and again shows symbols that would not be foreign to the Mayans. The script on the stone does not reference people from another place, either. This stone is a way for the ruler to legitimize his rule. He has the right ancestors and, therefore, is the one who should make the blood sacrifice.
If we look at the other Stelae, 18 Rabbit commissioned, we see the same theme. They all incorporate this ruler in the form of different gods with a theme showing that he has the right to rule. Tsouklalos and Childress basically argue that their pareidolia should be taken as truth without trying to disprove years of Mayan art history. Now they are limited due to the nature of TV documentaries, but I’ve not seen any of them attempting to explain why the conventional interpretation is wrong.
18 Rabbit is one of the most famous ajaw’s or kings in Copán. He was an avid constructor and is viewed as a great king and the beginning of the end of Copán. After 43 years on the throne, 18 Rabbit was captured and beheaded by the ruler of the smaller vassal state, Quirigua, in 738 CE. After this, there was no more construction within Copán for 18 years. Even if there seem to be a few attempts to get the town back on its feet, it was abandoned around 800-830 CE.
The show then goes into how amazing the Mayan calendar is and that it is true to the solar year. Mesoamerica did have a great fascination for calendars. The earliest known example is from San Jose Mogote, dated to 600 BC. This calendar is known as the sacred calendar and consists of 260 days, no weeks or months. Each day consists of a combination of 20-day names and 13 numbers. So each day of the year has an individual name. But this 260 days cycle does not correspond to any astronomical observation. It’s more likely tied to the human pregnancy that lasts nine months. The sacred calendar was later improved by the Zapotecs, who extended it to become 365 days.
The Mayans did not adopt this version but kept the old sacred calendar and devices a second calendar more true to the sun year. This one is called Haab and consists of 18 months containing 20 days. If you are quick with math, you will realize that that only gets us to 360 days. That’s because the Mayans viewed the five remaining days as unlucky and shunned this 19th month. The Mayans used a few more calendars, but we don’t have time for them here. If you want to learn more, let me know, and we can do some special episode on the Mayans.
But Ancient Aliens question the Mayans' ability to look at the stars. We hear the old idea that these observations could not be the work of these simple people. Don’t get me wrong, for working with naked-eye astronomy and, at best, a sighting tube, they did an amazing job. But there’s nothing here that does not require patience, ingenuity, time, and a bit of math. The Mayans could surely do the math; they even had 0 as a concept. A little fun fact here is that their base system was 20. Philipp Coppens says something quite strange here to close out the section.
“When it comes to the ancient Maya that creation mythology evokes these legends, which say somewhere, just south of Orion’s Belt is this place where life originated from and they came to planet Earth on 112 BC when the ancient Mayans said the gods came to Earth.” - Philipp Coppens.
First, Orion's belt is a Greek star constellation, not Mayan. But the whole idea is rather strange, for sure. If we go to the creation story in Popol Vuh, we find nothing like this. We also know that the perceived start date of this version of human history starts at 220.127.116.11 or when 13 baktuns had been completed. This date is part of the long count calendar that’s divided into Bak’tuns (400 years), K’atuns (20 years), Tuns (360 days!), and winals (20 days). This start of humanity happened with our time count on August 11, 3114 BCE. I have no idea where Coppens got the date here; it does not correspond to an event large enough to show up in my research. From here, we will travel across the globe to a faraway land. But don’t worry, we will have to return to the Mayans later.
Nemrud Dagi / The Magi,
One great thing about this show is that I learn about some new sites. This site happens to be one of those instances. Located in southwest Turkey, at mount Nemrud is a mausoleum for Antiochus I. He ruled a kingdom called Commagene that got its rise after the fall of Alexander the Great's empire. The rulers of this kingdom were like many other locations during this era highly Hellenized. Or greek wannabes.
We see this partly in Antiochus I mausoleum. So this site has a couple of components, in the center we see a large Tumulus. We have not yet found the burial chamber within but that’s part of the issue with these types of graves. They would often need to be completely disassembled to be explored and I for one think it’s good we have not done it yet. But as technology evolves it’s just a question of when we will locate it.
We have a couple of terraces on the east, west, and north of the Tumulus. The northern one seems to have not been completed, maybe the king died too soon or something else happened. But on the east and west, there is a row of giant statues made out of limestone. These statues were originally some 7-8 meters tall (that’s some 22 to 26 feet) but are today in quite poor condition. It’s the worst on the western terrace and can accumulate quite a bit of snow, add to this that the site is near a fault line and some 2000 years of earthquakes. The statues on the eastern side are in better condition.
Some of these statues do represent gods and on the eastern platform, we can see Antiochos I, the goddess Commagene (probably Tyche), Zeus-Orosmasdes, Apollo-Mithras-Helios-Hermes, and Artagnes-Heracles-Ares. These are a mixture of Iranian gods and Greek, what’s also interesting is that it seems as if Antiochus tried to blend the cultures better. These statues have Persian clothes and hairstyles but Greek names and faces.
But there are a few other details that the Ancient Alien theorists believe are evidence of an alien presence on the site. I’ll let the show set the tone here.
“One example of the advanced knowledge of astronomy that they had is actually the lion horoscope, which gives us a very precise date. We know that the position of the stars on the lion’s body fits with the positions of stars of Leo given in a book of Eratosthenes, who was a Greek astronomer from Alexandria who wrote a book about the stars.” - Adrian Gilbert
“The arrangement of stars on the lion horoscope represented the constellation of Leo as seen in the sky in July 62 BC, a configuration that wouldn’t be visible again for 25,000 years. Further evidence of the exceptional knowledge of the stars was found in a nearby shaft that Antiochus built into the mountain.”- Narrator.
This is not far from the truth, which is, of course, refreshing in this series. So there is a stone slab with a lion on it with a set of stars that’s been argued to be the constellation Leo. There are a few suggestions on what year it corresponds to but up until recently, the date has usually been suggested to be 62 BCE and be in commemoration of Antiochus' coronation. But there’s some debate about if this is the correct interpretation. The star lines up at a few more dates such as 109 BCE and 49 BCE. In a recent article by Maurice Crijnc, I feel that he makes a compelling argument for the 109 BCE date that would correspond with Antiochus' father Mithradates I's coronation.
The reasons are a couple, but to start Antiochus' takes clear ownership of the statues he built at the site except for this tablet. Some pedal stones behind have text that seems to have been removed and can with more modern equipment be read indicating these were originally put up by Mithradates. The Regulus star depicted also indicates the date to be more likely 109 BCE. It would also work better with the calendar they used. But this is research published this year so it will be exciting to see where it goes. The site is quite exciting and it has room for more research and new things are being published about it. Yet it’s not as famous here in the West as it could be.
The show then goes on and wonders why this was built. The idea of the coronation connection has been around since the 1800s but they leave this completely out of the episode. Instead, we are faced with this question.
“Given the fact that neither Antiochus’s tomb or remains have been found, is it possible that the king actually journeyed to the stars through a heavenly gate, as Ancient Astronaut Theorists contend? During his life, researchers believe Antiochus studied with a priestly sect of Eastern astrologers called the Magi, who were thought to be able to predict and even manipulate events based on their knowledge of the stars.” - Narrator
You might not scratch your head wondering if this is true. The answer is probably not and now we will get into some religious studies. So the term Magi is real and connected to this part of our blue marble. It can be used for a couple of things, Herodotus refers to a tribe with this name for example in Histories. But we also see this tribe with names as Madai from the Assyrians and Parsuwash among the Persians.
In Greece, Magi could also refer to a charlatan who used the sleight of hand to fool people or people who could interpret omens or dreams. I think it’s quite telling that dream interpreter and charlatan have the same word. But it’s also the name of Zoroastrian priests and from the show, it seems to be what the show is referring to. Listen to Jason Martell.
“The Magi were renown priests from the far Near East. who had advanced astronomical knowledge and it’s well known that most of the astronomers from the Near East specifically ancient Iraq, Sumer, recorded series of events happening in the heavens over hundreds of thousands of years. This information was kept on stone tablets, held very sacredly and only passed down to the high priests.” - Jason Martell
The location of Madai is more toward modern-day Iran and also where we see Zoroastrianism originate and prosper until the Islam-Arabic conquest. But the Magi Martell is trying to tell us about in this case most likely refers to the priest within the Zoroastrian tradition. Even if they did spend a lot of time studying the sky their main interest was Astrology, not Astronomy. I know, it’s an easy mistake to make but astronomy deals with studying everything above the earth's atmosphere while Astrology is trying to tell the future.
At first, the Magi were a sort of cast within the Persian empire, but as Zoroastrianism took over they were incorporated as priests. These priests started during the Classical era to spread out toward Greece and Sicily, this is seen in the works of Aristoteles, the astronomer Eudoxus and others during this era.
The Zoroastrian ideas were discussed by greek philosophers and other learned people. So it would not be strange if a Helinized king such as Antiochus had read and admired them. But if we circle back to his statue we see that he’s combining Greek and Persian elements. But not in a way that would make sense to a Zoroastrian. Even if Ahura Mazda and Mithra are incorporated it would from a Zoroastrian perspective not make sense. We see Aristoteles struggle a bit trying to make sense of the duality. So claiming Antiochus to be a priest is quite far-fetched, even if he probably understood these ideas. But let’s hear how these priests are connected to alien visitors:
“Today we think that the Magi were magicians and that is actually why we have the word magic today. But when I hear about magical powers, that raises a flag because magic as such does not exist. So, were these Magi, in fact, in possession of some type of an extraterrestrial technology? Because, according to the ancient texts, it was the initiates of each culture who were in touch with extraterrestrials. And it was the initiates who later became priests or Magi.” - Giorgio Tsoukalos
Here we have the “according to ancient texts” claim again and I’ve not found a good fit for them so we will just gloss that part over. But the type of astronomy this priest did was not really advanced. It takes a good view of the sky and time, maybe a little bit of math. Things that they clearly had at this point in time. But it’s good to know that Giorgio does not believe in magic.
From here we switch over to the story of Jesus. It is true that in the earlier versions the three wise men were referred to as Magi. I find this quite clever since the writers of Mathews (the only book where this story is found) are trying to cement that Jesus is the savior prophesied in for example Numbers 24:17. There it’s foretold that the Star Prophecy will show where the king of kings will be born. So if you want to really hammer in that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah what better confirmation that the best astrology and divination experts saw this and followed it? Remember that they also have a dream where they learn that Harod was going to betray them. Again referring them to be experts on prophesy and dreams, skills that the Magi were associated with in the greek world.
So these Magi saw the star, recognized it as the prophecy, and followed the signs they could deviate. Coming to Jesus' baby and giving him gifts that are usually intended for a king, confirming that Jesus was the right Messiah.
With the birth of Jesus, we will take our leave from the Middle East for now and travel back across the earth to Peru.
Since we’re in Peru I think you more or less can guess where we will end up this time. There is a bunch of wonderful cultures we could talk about but we’re again back with the Nazca. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the Nazca but we have covered this culture in episodes one, three, five, and sixteen. So I’ll offer a shorter version here and hopefully add some things we’ve not covered in the past.
Just to set the tone and maybe offer a refresher, the Nazca culture was active roughly around 100 BCE to 800 CE. They were mostly an agricultural society with some amazing pottery. They were active more or less at the same time as the Moche culture. Neither of these had a written language that we have been able to tell. So what we know about them is what we have been able to uncover with the help of archeology. We will get to why this is important in a moment.
But the Nazca people are of course most known for their lines. These lines come in all shapes, forms, and sizes, some are only 30 meters while others can span 48 kilometers (that’s some 30 miles). We are founding new ones to this day, and with the help of drones more and more have been discovered as late of 2020. I don’t have sources for later discoveries but I would not doubt that there are, if you have a source feel free to send it in.
So today we have about 1700 known figures and about 800 of them are straight lines. These are an enigma and we’re not entirely sure what they were used for. It is some sort of ritual most likely, some theories relate to astronomy while others think some might indicate where water is for pilgrims. What we do know is that they are easy to make, you can just scrape your foot on the ground in this area and create a line. Since we find pottery shards in the Nazca style and sticks we know they were made by the Nazca and have an idea at least of how they made them.
So with a few sticks and some string, you can actually make one of these glyphs rather easy with a few people. None of which really have to be up in the air for this to work. There was some experiment some time ago where they knitted fabric from Nazca really tight trying to make a balloon. Now, this succeeded to most people's surprise, but happiness was quickly changed to panic when strong winds took the ballon some 100 km of course. Now before you write me, this has been heavily criticized among scholars and seems to not have any anchor in the current understanding of the Nazca people. It would not make sense to them to fly to look at the glyphs since they most likely were for the sun. It’s a modern solution to an ancient problem that has an easier solution. It does not mean that we should shun the idea but should be skeptical until they can make a better case for it.
Ancient Aliens claims of course that this site was used by the aliens as a landing place. The Nazca people were trying to imitate the runways that they used. Not the issue with that is that the plains are really soft, not great if you want to use it as a runway. Not without some asphalt or something. Secondly, it does not add up with how they describe spacecraft in other places. They can move up and down freely and land on platforms at Baalbek, Jerusalem, and other places but here they need runways. It does not make sense and creates a whole new set of questions. But maybe it’s just me overthinking things.
The show does not say too many new things to us, but David Childress does say something peculiar.
“At Nazca and other areas in Peru there are legends of Sky People and gods coming down from the sky.” David Childress.
We do not know what they called their gods in most cases. We have found representations of them such as the killer whale, the spotted cat, and the anthropomorphic mythical being. As you might note we do not know as much as we might like, but the gods they worshiped do not seem to fit the alien narrative. Or maybe they suggest that the aliens are whales and cats? It would be something interesting at least. Their shamans appear to have used hallucinatory drugs in their practice, especially the San Pedro Cactus which is represented a lot in their art. They did also practice headhunting, but there’s the question of how much this was tied to their religion.
The research on the Nazca culture is interesting and new things are discovered. New theories are being investigated and all of them do not support the ancient astronaut theory.
From the Nazca plains we continue west out to a small island called Rapa Nui. Some might be more familiar with Easter Island or Isla de Pascua as it was named by Jacob Roggeveen in 1722. But the island has been settled since at least 300 CE. The name Rapa Nui is maybe not the island's original name but started to pop up in the 19th century. “Te Pito-te-henua” would be more precise, “henua” is traditionally translated to land, and “pito” is translated as “navel”. But an alternative translation is “end”, indicating that the name should be translated to Worlds End.
It’s most famous for its statues called Moai and these are of course the objects Ancient Aliens will focus most of this section on. I’ll let the show set the tone here.
“How in the heck did they make these? Where did they come from? And how did they move them? Nobody has the answer.” - George Noory
I find it a little bit dishonest that they only mention the largest example of the statues. On average they are about 4 meters (or 13 feet) weighing about 14 tons. Now it’s true that we don’t know as much as we would like about these. Due to the decimation of the Rapa Nuis inhabitants from disease and the slave trade knowledge from elders has been lost in past centuries.
It would have been wonderful to have all that lost knowledge preserved. In some sense, the archeology of Easter Island is more of a salvage excavation as some have called it. But this does not mean that we don’t know how these statues were carved. You have to work quite a bit to ignore the evidence we have. If there’s something you’ll find excavation of the different quarry sites is tools and tools and tools. During the latest excavations, more than 1500 of these stone masonry tools have been found. These are if finished called Toki. They come in different forms and shapes but are made out of stone. Some are more elaborate than others but appear to have been sufficient for the work at hand. If they were not useful I hardly think that they would spend the time to create them at these numbers. But the Ancient Alien crowd again leaves all of these out from the episode to manufacture a mystery.
The quarry sites are located at a couple of places on the Island but the most important is Rano Raraku. So claiming that we don’t know where they come from is also a bit of a manufactured mystery. But how did they move the statues? Well, that my friends are a bit of a mystery. When I say mystery it does not mean we do not have a single idea of how they did it. The first idea would be wood, but there’s a bit of an issue there. The rampant deforestation of the island. If you look at the island now we see very little forest or trees if any. We also see rampant soil erosion causing issues on the island and covering things including the Maoi statues with earth. This happened in a fairly short span of time when we look at pollen analyses. But do you need wood to move the stones?
Well not really, even if it would be the most obvious tool for us. Especially for me as a Scandinavian who sees nothing but trees sometimes. But how did they move these large objects if they didn’t have rollers? One theory that seems to be sound is that they walked. This also fits in with the oral traditions that did in fact survive into our age. I don’t suggest now that they grew legs and moved of their own accord. Instead, you use rope and a prepped road. These roads are still visible to some degree and we have them spanning across the island. The statues are also shaped at the bottom to facilitate this. But you use the rope and at least two teams of people to rock the statue back and forth. This idea was thought up by Lipo and Hunt and if you go to this episode's webpage, and links in the show notes, you will find a clip from National Geographic. In it we see how a group of 18 people move a replica of a Moai statue, it’s only a little bit shorter than the average. So it is possible to move these large statues without rollers or wood. The question is of course if this really was the method they used and we don’t know. We might never know, but it shows that we do not need alien levitation guns to move them around. If we can figure it out today, so could the people back then. But David Childress has another piece of evidence
“You have to ask yourself, how could the Easter Islanders have invented their own writing without some other cultural influence coming there. Would it have been ancient seafarers coming to Easter Island or perhaps even space visitors?” - David Childress
What David is talking about here is the script Rongorongo that is preserved on a few pieces of wood, staffs, and a few statues. We have not decoded this script yet but from what we gathered so far it’s most likely not a pre-contact script. We do not see this in earlier forms than before the Spaniards forced them to witness the signing of a deed of cession in 1770. While the script is fully developed on the island it was probably inspired in a sense by the contact with Spain. But the text written was supposedly sung, possibly sacred recitation or maybe even chants for procreation. But this was again lost to time and hopefully, we might be able to translate it one day. That would be an achievement! So we know a bit too much now to be suave by these claims, but they have one last claim, will it finally be the evidence for aliens we need?
“Did at some point in the past a creature come, which was Bird man who flew in from somewhere? Did he arrive on this island and did he indeed live very much like a pariah? Did he die or did he take off again, and is this what the locals keep this legend of this creature who came to them alive through myth, legend and ritual.” - David Coppens
Coppens is describing a peculiar ritual that started towards the end times of the islands civilization. But instead of drinking a breakfast smoothie made of whatever you find in the fridge like Schwarzenegger in “End of days” the inhabitant of Rapa Nui developed a new religion.
As we have seen the islanders had done some damage to their ecosystem, in earlier layers we see a lot of bird bones. At first, we can see some 25 different species represented in the garbage piles. Toward what we might consider the end of the classical era we have one species left. We also start to see a shift in power, from the ancestral worship and glory of the clan the power goes to the Matatoa. These are the warrior class who had a more painting name, tangata rima toto, or “men with bloody hands”. We see more charred and broken bones in these layers, sadly of juveniles. There is also a complete halt to the construction of the Moai statues that starts to get covered. There are indications that the statues and their ahu, the stone platforms some of the statues stood on, were still somewhat used. But their main focus had shifted to a new cult dedicated to the manutara.
This translates to “Sooty Tern” and is referring to the last seabird on the island. These birds had their refuge on the little islets called Motu Iti and Motu Nui that is visible from the rim of the Rono Kau volcano. The ceremony took place from Orongo, a ceremonial village out of stone, and beside it are the cliffs leading straight down. Once every year there was a gathering where representatives from the clans competed in who could bring back an undamaged egg from one of the nests. The first to present such an egg to the elders was declared Tangata Manu, the birdman, giving his clan the glory and honor for the year. This person had then to go and live in a hut at the abandoned quarry of Rano Raraku for a year. I would like to close out this section with a quote from Grant McCall describing this ritual so well. “It is not surprising that the Rapanui, faced with an ecological crisis that threatened their entire social order, if not their very lives, should take the initiative to fashion a new religion more suited to their precarius times. Instead of a king for life, they opted for one elected by ordeal. Instead of many ancestors who descended from many ancestors, they propounded a single god (Makemake), whose image they carved in desert rocks, on the bases of feud-toppled figures, and even around water holes.”
The Garden of Eden
In this last part we will talk about the Garden of Eden and how it was a real place. It does start out as a reasonable discussion of its location and one possible place would be what today is the Persian Gulf. Now it’s one interpretation based on what’s written in the bible, but not as solid evidence as the show maybe want it to be. We then have Graham Hancock claiming that:
“During that long period, there were at least three episodes of very, very major flooding. When you would be looking at 30 or 40 foot rises in sea level, virtually overnight.” - Graham Hancock
The sea level rise is a real thing that started after the last real Ice Age, in the show we learn that this was some 170 ft (or 51 meters), but in reality, the rise on average was 150 meters (500 feet) or more in some cases. This sound like a lot and Graham Hancock and others use this as evidence for their great flood theories and whatnot. What’s left out is that this is a process spanning nearly 20 000 years and often the rise was about a meter per century. Some periods did have a quicker pace, of nearly 2.4 meters per century. Then we have Scandinavia that after the glacier melted have a land rise instead.
From the flood, we continue with the idea that the Bible in part is inspired by Sumerian sources. Since we’ve evoked Sumer, we must apparently bring up the Annunaki, a modern creation by Zecharia Sitchin. The Annunaki is not of course invented by Zecharia but is part of Mesopotamian religion. He merely invented the idea that they were space beings, claiming that the name translates to something like “those from heaven came.” The issue of course is that Sitchin hasn’t really shown that he is first of all capable of reading these tablets, let alone translating them. His translations are of course going against currently accepted translations, this doesn’t mean he is in the wrong. Not at all, but it does mean he had to work a lot harder to prove his point. Something working against him a bit more is that we have Sumerian dictionaries preserved where they specify what the word meant.
So if we take the best current understanding of the language we would get a translation similar to “Of princely seed” or “Ofspring of An.” The Annunaki were a set of gods connected to the skygod An (or Anu), their creation differs from what culture of worship we talk about. Same for the creation of humans, this story differs widely depending on what source you’re looking at. Is it the “Gilgamesh and the Netherworld” story or maybe “The Debate between Grain and Sheep” depending on which one you use you’ll get a different answer to the question of how humans were created. So the idea that the Annunaki created humans as a slave race in the garden of Eden becomes quite a bit farfetched.
We will leave our Ancient Aliens here for this time. But make sure to tune in again next time! Then we will perform mysterious rituals and see if the code to ancient aliens is hidden in Catholic Mass.
But till then, remember to leave a positive review anywhere you can, such as iTunes, Spotify, or to your friend at the trench. I would also recommend visiting diggingupancientaliens.com to find more info about me and the podcast. You can also find me on most social media sites, and if you have comments, corrections, suggestions, or just want to write an email in all caps, you can find my contact info on the website.
You will find all the sources and resources used to create this podcast on our website. You will often also find further reading suggestions if you want to learn more about the subjects we bring up.
Sandra Marteleur created the intro music, and our outro is by the band called Trallskruv, who sings their song "tin foil hat." Links to both these artists will be found in the show notes.
Until next time, keep shoveling that science!
Sources, resources, and further reading suggestions
Aveni, A.F. ed., (2008). Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
Baudez, C. F. (2015). Maya sculpture of Copan: The iconography. University of Oklahoma Press. - https://archive.org/details/mayasculptureofc0000baud/mode/2up
Belmonte, J. A., & García, A. C. G. (2010). Antiochos’s Hierothesion at Nemrud Dag Revisited: Adjusting the Date in the Light of Astronomical Evidence. Journal for the History of Astronomy, 41(4), 469–481. https://doi.org/10.1177/002182861004100403
Bralower, T. ed., (2019). Sea Level in the Past 20,000 Years | Coastal Processes, Hazards, and Society. [online] Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Available at: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth107/node/1506
Colavito, J. (2011). Damn Those Lying Ancient Texts! [online] Jason Colavito. Available at: https://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/damn-those-lying-ancient-texts
Crijns, M. (2022). The Discovery of the Colossal Coronation Horoscope of Antiochus I, King of Commagene on Mt. Nemrud. BABESCH, 97, pp.77–91. http://dx.doi.org/10.2143/BAB.97.0.3290534
Freter, A. (1992). CHRONOLOGICAL RESEARCH AT COPAN: Methods and implications. Ancient Mesoamerica, 3(1), 117–133. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26307230
Gioncada, A., Gonzalez-Ferran, O., Lezzerini, M., Mazzuoli, R., Bisson, M. and Rapu, S.A. (2010). The volcanic rocks of Easter Island (Chile) and their use for the Moai sculptures. European Journal of Mineralogy, 22(6), pp.855–867. doi:10.1127/0935-1221/2010/0022-2057
Herodotus, The History Of Herodotus Volume 1, Translated by G. C. Macaulay (1890) Available through the Gutenberg Project
Hicks, D., Hamilton, S., Thomas, M.S. and Whitehouse, R. (2013). Easter Island and Pitcairn Island. World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: A Characterization, pp.564–572. doi:10.2307/j.ctv17db2mz.35
Jr, S., Tilburg, V. and Dussubieux, L. (2018). Toki (adze) and Pick Production During Peak Moai (Statue) Manufacture: Geochemical and radiometric analyses reveal prehistoric provenance, timing and use of Easter Island’s finegrain basalt resources. Journal of Paciﬁc Archaeology, 9(2), pp.12–34.
Kirch, P.V. (2017). On the road of the winds: an archaeological history of the Pacific islands before European contact. Oakland, California: University of California Press.
Lipo, C.P., Hunt, T.L. and Haoa, S.R. (2013). The ‘walking’ megalithic statues (moai) of Easter Island. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(6), pp.2859–2866. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JAS.2012.09.029 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpNuh-J5IgE
Mardon, A. κ.ά. (2021) The Nazca Lines. Edmonton: Golden Meteorite Press
Mark, J. (2018). Enuma Elish - The Babylonian Epic of Creation - Full Text. [online] World History Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.worldhistory.org/article/225/enuma-elish---the-babylonian-epic-of-creation---fu/
Martin, S. and Grube, N. (2008). Chronicle of the Maya kings and queens: deciphering the dynasties of the ancient Maya. London: Thames & Hudson.
McCall, G. (1980). Rapanui: Tradition and Survival on Easter Island. (pp 38-39) Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.
Okumura, M. (2014). Differences in types of artificial cranial deformation are related to differences in frequencies of cranial and oral health markers in pre-Columbian skulls from Peru. Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas, 9(1), pp.15–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1981-81222014000100002
Reece, K. (2005). Grounding the Nazca Balloon. [online] www.hallofmaat.com. Available at: https://www.hallofmaat.com/americas/grounding-the-nasca-balloon/
Reindel, M. and Wagner, G.A. eds., (2009). New Technologies for Archaeology - Multidisciplinary Investigations in Palpa and Nasca, Peru. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.
Rose, J. (2014). Zoroastrianism. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Sharer, R.J. and Traxler, L.P. (2006). The ancient Maya. 6th ed. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Silverman, H. (2002). Ancient Nasca settlement and society. Iowa City: University Of Iowa Press.
SIMPSON, D.F., WEISLER, M.I., ST PIERRE, E.J., FENG, Y. and BOLHAR, R. (2017). The archaeological documentation and geochemistry of the Rua Tokitoki adze quarry and the Poike fine-grain basalt source on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Archaeology in Oceania, 53(1), pp.15–27. doi:10.1002/arco.5132.
Spar, I. (2019). Mesopotamian Creation Myths. [online] Metmuseum.org. Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/epic/hd_epic.htm
Topal, T., Deniz, B. E., & Güçhan, N. Ş. (2014). Decay of Limestone Statues at Mount Nemrut (Adiyaman, Turkey). International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 9(3), 244–264. https://doi.org/10.1080/15583058.2013.768310
Türer, A., Aktaş Erdem, Y.D. and Güçhan, N.Ş. (2012). Reverse-Engineering Evaluation and Monitoring of Nemrut Monuments. International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 6(4), pp.373–395. doi:10.1080/15583058.2011.561906.
Van Tilburg, J.A. (1995) Easter Island: Archaeology, Ecology, and Culture. Smithsonian Press
Van Tilburg, J.A. (2011) Season V Excavation Summary. Easter Island Statue Project [Online] https://www.eisp.org/category/conservation/
Webster, D., & Freter, A. (1990). Settlement History and the Classic Collapse at Copan: A Redefined Chronological Perspective. Latin American Antiquity, 1(1), 66–85. https://doi.org/10.2307/971710
William Leonard Fash (2001). Scribes, warriors, and kings: the city of Copán and the ancient Maya. London; New York: Thames And Hudson.
“Folie hatt” by Trallskruv
Lily of the woods by Sandra Marteleur