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By Alfred de Grazia

Part One: Historical Disturbances



Seeing that humans are very different from primates and yearning to stress that difference without the help of current religion, many people have taken an interest in the idea of the "ancient astronauts" [1] . Popularized especially by Erich von Daniken, and given intellectual respectability more recently by Robert Temple, the view maintains that primitive "backward" humans were visited by anatomically compatible beings from outer space, and taught the arts and sciences, including finally an enduring reverence for the visitors as gods.

Most sets of myths do include a belief that god-heroes walked the Earth in early times [2] . They are connected with the skies. Some early signs and pots bear sky-references. Evidence accumulates, too, that the earliest civilizations were far more sophisticated than scientists believed until recently. All of these are connected with the suspected foreign visitors by the theory of ancient astronauts.

The idea is not catastrophic (although scholarly catastrophists fear it will be catastrophic to the reputation of their work). It enlists catastrophes merely as a convenient means of explaining why the evidence of visitations is almost totally lacking: it has been buried or destroyed.

Moreover, the idea is eclectic. Much of the material that finds its way into the writings about "ancient astronauts" consist of exotica (" Did you know that...?" and "Believe it or not, but..."), or of questions aimed at needling archaeologists and pre-historians about their many anomalies, oversights and unknowns.

Catastrophists and uniformitarians alike usually reject the theory indignantly. Von Daniken himself is excoriated for his meanderings, his lack of logic, pretentiousness, vagueness, unscholarly innuendos, and profit-taking in the market of ideas. Still it seems odd that scientists such as C. Sagan, who earned fame and fortune in part from writing science fiction, should denounce the analogous efforts of others. At the least, Von Daniken's work is like the newspaper comic strips, which get people to buy the newspaper, encountering thereupon whatever else it may contain in the way of information and ideas.

In any event, humanoid development in other planets or areas may have been possible in recent ages. We know the climates and resources of Mars, Mercury, and Venus today. They were probably quite different even a few thousands of years ago.

It is even possible to imagine that foreign astronauts, highly advanced, would have foreseen the doom of their planet and taken off for a habitable place (a favorite theme of science fiction). Or they may simply have undertaken a routine exploration and been stranded and assimilated, or taught and disseminated peculiar human qualities, and exited forever.

There exist, further, infinite possible combinations of genes of which only a few have been exercised to create life on Earth as we know it. It is conceivable, but quite unlikely, that parallel developments of being and existence could occur in isolation, one development (the foreign visitor) ahead of the other (potentiated primitive homo).

The chances of two assimilable races developing independently are practically nil, despite the narrow band of evolutionary choices referred to earlier. They are rendered nil when the timing factor is considered: in all eternity, why did the two races converge at the moment when man was ready for everything except reflective thought? Although it is true in a sense that "everything is miraculous," it is false that therefore every highly improbable idea must be true.

And, even if the improbable were accepted, and a fully technologized modern type of human developed elsewhere, one would still have to explain their evolution. If backward Moonmen had existed and surrounded our landing craft on July 20, 1969, and had been impregnated culturally and otherwise by our doughty astronauts, the Moonmen's descendents would still have to figure out how the astronauts evolved.

Those who flirt with the idea of ancient astronauts are justifiably critical of the absence of evolutionary explanations for the great leap from pre-culture to culture. But being dissatisfied with existing evolutionary theory does not permit one to believe in all far-fetched substitutes. The "ancient astronaut" is too much like the "magician's rabbit, pulled from a hat."

It is also true, as von Daniken insists, that the early humans were sky-watchers. It is fundamental to catastrophic theory that this be so. But the gods that were watched for were not his god-heroes. They were the displays of natural forces as perceived by an aroused, deluded mind.

There is no evidence, anywhere and earlier, of a human skill of powered machine that goes beyond the technology employed during the "Old Bronze Age" of Egypt. These would not have been paraphernalia typical of a hypothetical culture that travels through space. It is conceivable that machine civilizations, now completely destroyed, may have existed on Earth millions of years ago, (although we are arguing in Solaria Binaria that these millions of years have not existed in Earth's history); but even this idea will not advance the question of whether living culture inherited advanced techniques.

The famous Peruvian Nazca ground patterns may not be fully understood; but if "aeronautical direction-finding" is contained in them, it is more suited to a Piper Cub plane than a space vehicle. They may have been laid out under instruction from heat-lofted balloons or from look-out points on heights. Theoretical geometricians could also achieve the patterns, and may have ordered them along the lines of meteorite falls. All ancient monuments -- megaliths, pyramids, temples -- were sky-oriented; the Nazca lines may have followed star-lines, also.

There remains a possibility that only the theory of Solaria Binaria permits. I mentioned this theory in a talk to the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies in London in 1975 and have since developed the model in collaboration with Professor Earl R. Milton. It calls for a binary system of the Sun and Super-Uranus, electrically connected by a pulsing axis of fire and enveloped by an electromagnetized tube reaching between the binary partners and providing a vast intervening space with a viable atmosphere for planetary and biological genesis. The breakdown of Solaria Binaria occasioned the set of catastrophes that originated and imprinted homo sapiens.

The rotating magnetic tube that enveloped the planets in the age of Pangea on Earth endured for a long time. Hence the planets would have shared an atmosphere, and might possibly have engendered similar life forms. Passage from one planet to another would have been possible without highly specialized airborne vehicles. It is also possible that several planets were grouped close together. Something like the "Piper Cub" plane just referred to would not appear so ludicrous. For the vehicle would not have to cross through "outer space."

If the "ancient astronauts" theory were true, and adapted the scenario of Solaria Binaria, the knowledge of genetics and evolution gained in field studies of earthlings would not have been wasted. It can be transferred to the exoterrestrial location that had produced the visitors, because both on Earth and on the other planets within the plenum of the solar system the same atmospheric and hence life conditions would prevail.

Then one may go on to conjecture that these intelligent beings from far away were human in a way that was related to the hominids of Earth, but had progressed much farther along. And that these ancient astronauts, coming upon the hominids of our Earth, bred with them [3] . The resulting strain, now dominant on Earth, with both astronauts and hominids having disappeared (bred out), would be the homo sapiens schizotypus that is described in Homo Schizo I and II. However, the present author, despite his attempts here to rationalize the idea of "ancient astronauts," regards the slight evidence behind it and its logic as sufficiently disposed of within the scenario of his Quantavolutionary Series.

Notes (Chapter 9: Ancient Astronauts)

1. The literature is large. A scholarly work to be recommended is Robert Temple's The Sirius Mystery.

2. See Joseph Campbell's collection and analysis of The Hero of a Thousand Faces.

3. A suggestive legend is carried by H. Bellamy in Moons, Myths and Man (1936) p. 269.


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