NASA’s Curiosity reignites hope for extraterrestrial life, but does age-old evidence suggest that we have been visited already?
Recent news that NASA’s Curiosity rover had successfully landed on Mars sparked over-night global interest in the possibilities of space discovery.
The car-sized vehicle landed on the red planet last Monday after an epic nine-month voyage across 350,000,000 miles, and has since sent high-resolution colour images from the planet’s Gale crater back to earth.
Curiosity’s objectives include determining any evidence that could prove whether life has existed – or still does exist – on Mars.
So what better time to discuss and debate the potentials of life outside of our own planet?
One theory I have been fascinated with for some time now is the suggestion that extraterrestrial beings once visited the Earth and influenced the development of human cultures, religions and technologies.
Absurd as it initially sounds, there is actually an enormous amount of potential evidence that supports the ancient astronauts theory, most of which comes from studying archaeological artefacts and looking at how religious teachings might have been misinterpreted throughout history.
Swiss author Erich von Däniken was a pioneering advocate of this theory in the late 60s and early 70s, causing mass controversy through the release of his best-selling book, Chariots of the Gods?
In this book von Däniken argues that many artifacts and monumental constructions, such as Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza, would have required far more sophisticated technologies to be created than what actually existed at the time.
The book also claims that much of the ancient art and iconography that has been discovered in different parts of the world displays these otherworldly beings coming down from the sky, whether in chariots, flying boats or on dragons.
Von Däniken, and many modern day supporters of the ancient astronauts theory, suggest that ancient civilisations depicted real events that were occurring in a way that they could comprehend at the time.
Therefore, a spaceship that projected fire could have easily been recorded in ancient China as a fire-breathing dragon. Or extraterrestrials making contact from other galaxies could have been interpreted as angels from heaven in Christian societies.
Von Däniken interprets many religions as reactions to encounters with an alien race that, according to him, helped humans move from primitive cavemen to a more sophisticated species.
Sound like nonsense to you? You’re not alone, as many critics have argued that von Däniken’s theories are based on misrepresented data and pseudoscience.
However the author is not alone with his theories, and there have been many others put forward that could be considered as far more extreme.
Shape of the Spirits
Many ancient cultures, particularly in Egyptian and Mayan societies, performed acts of cranial deformation that led to humans having an elongated skull shape. Significant historical figures such as King Tutankhamen and Queen Nefertiti are often depicted with these elongated heads.
It is argued that this bizarre occurrence could have been aimed at creating a skull shape that was more aesthetically pleasing at the time. For instance in the Nahai-speaking area of Tomman Island, a person with an elongated head was thought to be more intelligent and “closer to the world of the spirits.”
Some advocates of the ancient astronauts theory believe that many of these civilisations were actually imitating beings from another world. Some even believe that the elongated skulls that have been found belonged to these extraterrestrials.
So what if there was some truth behind these controversial theories? We would then be faced with countless other questions like, why did they come? Will they return? Have they returned already?
Going around in Circles
Many supporters of the ancient aliens theory believe we are still being contacted today, for instance in the form of crop formation.
There have been many sightings throughout history of what could today be described as crop circles, however the most documented cases have been occurring since the 1970s.
Two hoaxers claimed authorship of crop circles found throughout England in 1991, and since then many others have come forward to say the same thing. However many still believe that crop formation is either linked to communication from other beings, or even other realms.
Another suggestion from advocates of the ancient astronauts theory, is that earth was actually visited from beings from another time. Therefore, these beings might actually be humans from the future travelling back in time.
Although this concept sounds far-fetched, one interesting piece of potential evidence is that most of the ancient art and iconography found across the world presents us with humanoids that came down from the sky.
These beings usually have two arms, two legs and a head, although with slight physical differences that could be put down to future evolution.
The argument that we are ancestors of our own future selves is almost too much to comprehend, although infinitely thought-provoking.
When it comes to the concept of ancient astronauts, the most important thing is to keep an open mind. I’m not saying that I’m a firm believer of the theory, however I also think stranger ideas have been put forward and are still perceived to be true in modern society.
Sadly, it is often humanity’s arrogance that suggests we must be the only life in our universe, or simply mankind’s fear of the unknown and things that we cannot understand.
However in honour of NASA’s Curiosity rover, that was given its name by a 12 year old girl from Kansas who wrote “curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives,” we should all allow our minds to boldly go where no man has gone before.
But perhaps where something else once has…