Ancient Aliens s01e02 Episode Script

The Visitors

Reports of UFO sightings come from all corners of the globe.
I was taken onboard a in the Mojave Desert and given I saw two great big, real bright lights hanging up in the air.
Most believe these alien encounters are a modern phenomenon, but the fact is they have been reported for thousands of years.
MICHAEL CREMO: Practically every human civilization have been in touch with extraterrestrial beings.
DAVID CHILDRESS: The Mayans and the Aztecs.
LINDA HOWE: The idea that there was one or more non-human groups inspiring us is the truth.
Millions of people around the world believe we have been visited in the past by extraterrestrial beings.
But what if it were true? Did ancient aliens really help to shape our history? And if so, where did they come from? And just who were the visitors? (wind whistling) Roswell, New Mexico.
This sleepy town in America's Southwest was once best known for its large military air base.
But that changed in 1947 when a localancher reported that a spaceship crashed on his property.
Several weeks later, the U.
Army issued a press release confirming the existence of an alien craft.
The next day, the military changed its story and announced that what they had found was a weher balloon.
These conflicting reports sent shock waves around the world, and the name "Roswell" became a pop culture code word that forever links extraterrestrial visitation with enduring mystery.
NICK POPE: Speculation about why the Roswell crash would be covered up is difficult to pin down.
Some people talk about this in terms of information that would be shattering to our worldview.
STEVEN GREER: Almost everyone's heard about the so-called Roswell event, and one of the real implications of disclosure is that some of our most cherished myths about the origins of the human race and our history and archaeology would fall apart.
GEORGE NOORY: Something happened at Roswell, New Mexico a long time ago.
People want the truth.
I think there's something in the human being itself that is striving, that is hungry for this knowledge in order to answer questions about our own existence.
Today, public opinion polls indicate more than half the world's population believes aliens have either come here in the past or are coming here now.
But what is it exactly that makes so many people believe? JONATHAN YOUNG: I do think looking upward makes sense.
The universe is large.
There are things out there we do not understand.
There is probably intelligent life somewhere.
ROBERT BAUVAL: People tend to forget that we're on a planet that's four and a half billion years old.
The presence of our civilization in that vast scale of time I mean, if I click my finger, it wouldn't even be fast enough to say this is the time of our civilization.
And to think that we're the only ones in this vast period of time, to me, is absurd.
SARA SEAGER: Our galaxy, the Milky Way, has over 100 billion stars.
And in our universe, we think there are more than 100 billion galaxies.
So if every star had a planet with intelligent life, how many alien civilizations would we have? ERICH VON DANIKEN: If you take us as the crown of creation, or the top of evolution, we look at our self as the greatest, the biggest.
We say, how incredible, uh, unique we are in the whole universe.
We forgot to learn modesty.
JENNIFER HELDMANN: Each step that we take makes us a little bit less special.
We used to think that we were the center of the universe, as humans, and then we realized, "Oh, all right, well, that's not true.
" And But we're at the center of the galaxy, and, like, well, all right, so we're like two thirds of the way out in a spiral arm.
And then, well, at least our sun, you know, with this No.
The sun is actually in the middle, and the earth goes around it.
So earth isn't even the center of that system, and So, the more that we learn, we sort of, you know It's a very humbling science.
(rumbling) When man first landed on the moon, our perspective on the universe changed forever.
Houston, uh, the Eagle has landed.
BUZZ ALDRIN: We aliens who happened to go down the ladder on July were certainly part of a magnificent race.
I just don't think people have a grasp for what energy it takes to go from one star to another.
This historic event raised the question: if humans can successfully navigate in space and explore other worlds, why couldn't beings from other parts of the universe have done the same? And might they have already come to Earth hundreds, or perhaps, thousands of years ago? VON DANIKEN: I think human past is more fantastic than we all believe.
I have come to the idea that maybe extraterrestrials were on this planet.
Cahuachi, Peru.
settlement served as the religious and cultural capital of the Nazca people.
But sometime around 500 AD, the Nazca mysteriously disappeared, leaving Cahuachi to fall into disarray.
anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka came to Cahuachi to study the ancient Nazca civilization.
During a dig, he unearthed some of the most surprising and shocking artifacts he had ever seen.
They were skulls with enormous, elongated craniums.
Where did they come from? How did they get there? And were they human? CHILDRESS: In Peru, we find these weird, elongated skulls.
And they're bizarre-looking.
I mean, and-and these people look like aliens.
ROBERT SCHOCH: One may say, okay, aliens.
But another aspect that we have to consider is that skull and cranial deformation, forming elongated heads is a practice that's known throughout much of the ancient world.
In 1870, the process of skull deformation was well chronicled by a German botanist and explorer named Georg Schweinfurth.
While exploring the African Congo, he came in contact with a tribe called the Mangbetu.
They routinely performed a ritual of cranial binding that allowed them to physically alter the shape of human skulls.
CHILDRESS: They took infants' skulls and compressed them and bound them.
And they forced the cranium out and elongate it.
And in many cases, they doubled the size.
SCHOCH: And a big question is why was this being done? It may have been a way to distinguish the elite, perhaps, from the everyday people.
May have been a social stratification type of issue.
Something that also appeals to me is, that may have been a way to express physically and maybe try to achieve physically greater levels of consciousness or higher levels of mental ability.
TSOUKALOS: In my opinion, they did this in order to mimic the gods.
And those gods were physical beings because if they were just a figment of our ancestors' imagination, I don't think that's a cpelling enough reason to expose your children to such a ritual to achieve that type of look.
And in my opinion, these people were misinterpreted flesh-and-blood space travelers.
SCHOCH: Some people have suggested aliens had elongated skulls, and apparently, ancient peoples are mimicking those skulls.
The old saying is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Although there have been many images that attempt to depict what aliens might actually look like, one in particular has come to dominate the public perception.
It, too, features an elongated cranium, and is associated with an extraterrestrial race that many refer to as the grays.
POPE: In terms of entities, one very common description are the so-called grays-- three and a half, four feet tall, essentially humanoid, but, uh, very spindly with disproportionately large heads and huge black almond-shaped eyes.
But would someone in a primitive society really want to replicate this look and deform their skull? Some archeologists have a different perspective.
They point to artistic self- expression as an explanation of these customs.
CARGILL: There are all kinds of people that either worship the body or use the body as art, be it a tattoo or a piercing of some sort, or tribes that, that put things in their ears or on their lips to try to, to try to grow parts of their body.
Some societies, we know, practiced binding parts of the body, feet, or heads and try to make certain shapes, and this was done for whatever reason.
We know today that this isn't usually the most healthy thing to do, but it doesn't mean people don't do it.
People are always trying to change their body to make it look a certain way.
Whatever the explanation may be for these rituals, they are not just found in Peru and the African Congo.
Skull deformation is a global phenomenon.
CHILDRESS: What's really strange is that this is found all over the world, and this is something that archaeologists cannot easily explain because, for people on remote islands, for people in South America or Malta or in Africa to suddenly, independently do this cranial deformation like this seems incredible.
I mean, this is something that had to be learned, something that was taught to them.
SCHOCH: We seem to have basic similarities, as if there was one civilization or at least one type of culture that was influencing people around the world.
I find it more and more difficult to believe what I was taught as an undergraduate-- that all these different cultures just coincidentally came up with the same concepts independently of each other.
Is it possible that individual societies around the world were influenced by similar events? And were they imitating real beings who visited from other planets? Some of the most compelling images of an elongated cranium can be traced to ancient Egypt and the depictions of one of its most controversial pharaohs.
Could it be that he too was mimicking the look of extraterrestrials? Or is there an even more outrageous explanation? Could he have been one of them? Egypt.
Long before the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids or even settled along the Nile River, they spoke of an era called Tep Zepi, or the beginning of time.
According to legends, Tep Zepi was when "sky-gods" descended from the stars to Earth on flying "boats," and then turned mud and water into a new kingdom.
BAUVAL: The word "god," according to the ancient Egyptian, is "netyro.
" It means a being that came from the cosmos.
They are very adamant about the fact that their gods had descended from the stars.
They tell us that the god Osiris, who ruled with his consort and sister-- the goddess Isis they were star gods, and in fact they identify them very clearly.
Osiris was identified the constellation of Orion.
Isis was identified as the god to the star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
There's an interesting point about this-- is that within the constellation of Orion is the so-called nursery of stars.
The stars in our galaxy literally were born in that zone, and it's really peculiar that the ancient Egyptians insist that the birth of star gods are in this constellation.
They truly believed-- they were very adamant about this-- that their origins is in the sky.
SCHOCH: Something that we see around the world with ancient civilizations is that they had incredible knowledge of the stars, of the planets, of the heavenly motions.
The average person in the ancient world had way more knowledge of what's going on in the skies than a lot of well-educated people today.
As ancient Egypt grew into a great civilization, its citizens believed their pharaohs were sons of Osiris and thus, living gods.
Artwork and wall carvings depicted them as perfect humans, and while the people worshipped many different gods, the pharaoh stood above them all.
This basic Egyptian religious belief remained in force for nearly a thousand years until one pharaoh changed everything.
Who was this heretic? His name was Akhenaten, and in every surviving depiction, he is shown with an elongated skull.
Who was he? According to Egyptian mythology, he too was descended from the gods who arrived on Earth at the time of Tep Zepi.
But why do so many still believe he actually came from the stars? In 1352 BC, Akhenaten ascended to the throne as the tenth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty.
Almost immediately, he instituted a series of radical religious changes, including a ban on references to multiple gods.
BAUVAL: It's a rather strange thing that he would want to do that in one sweep, but he ordered all the, the iconography of previous gods to be removed.
He only allowed one emblem, which was a sun emblem, literally a sun disk with curious arms or rays pointing down.
TSOUKALOS: Why did he do this? Because according to his writings and his poems that were written about him later on, he was visited by one of those beings that descended from the sky, who told Akhenaten, "This is the way.
I am your god.
" This sun god was known as Aten.
Akhenaten claimed to be a direct descendent of Aten.
BAUVAL: Akhenaten, like any other pharaoh, regarded himself to be divine.
He was a god.
Not only himself believed himself to be a god, but the whole nation saw him as a god.
Now, the definition of a god is that he was a descendant from these celestial beings.
During his fourth year as pharaoh, Akhenaten ordered the construction of a new capital city.
He called it Amarna and dedicated it to the sun.
Akhenaten would spend the next ten years here, during which time he instituted changes in both art and culture, including how he himself would be publicly depicted.
CARGILL: In Egyptian iconography, Egyptian pharaohs are depicted as these triangular-shaped beings-- these broad, strong shoulders and these very skinny waists.
Now, we look at leaders today and we know that most leaders don't have broad shoulders and skinny waists, but it was important to depict the Egyptian kings as having broad shoulders and skinny waists-- very, you know-- the epitome of what a king ought to look like.
BAUVAL: That's exactly the opposite with Akhenaten.
He shows himself perhaps as he really is a rather strange look.
He has a very mystical look.
SCHOCH: If we take Akhenaten's statues, for instance, literally, he was a very strange-looking character.
Sort of combined, some people would say, feminine aspects with masculine aspects, may have had an elongated skull.
CARGILL: The change in royal iconography of Akhenaten showed him as he probably really was, with a misshapen head, with a potbelly, with a sunken chest, as opposed to the idealized iconography of traditional Egyptian artists that showed this big, strong pharaoh.
Akhenaten's wife Queen Nefertiti and their children were also depicted as having elongated skulls.
So why were Akhenaten's and Nefertiti's heads deformed? Did they suffer from a genetic abnormality or did they deliberately alter their shape? Some believe there could be yet another explanation behind their strange, otherworldly appearance.
CHILDRESS: They look like they're different than other human beings.
TSOUKALOS: Is it possible that Akhenaten might have been an extraterrestrial hybrid? CARGILL: Ancient alien enthusiasts look at Pharaoh Akhenaten of Egypt and say, "Ah, look at that long head.
That looks like an alien gray.
That looks like some kind of something that's nonhuman, some hybrid between something else and something human.
Must be evidence of alien interference, alien reproduction with humans.
Something like that.
" BETTY ANN BROWN: I've been to Egypt, and one of the most stunning things about seeing the archeological remains of ancient Egypt is that one unique pharaoh, Akhenaten.
TSOUKALOS: I mean, he's got a very narrow, pointy face, high cheekbones, and a very elongated cranium.
CHILDRESS: The idea that they were either looking like extraterrestrials, or perhaps had extraterrestrial DNA in them is a credible idea.
Akhenaten ruled for 17 years.
After his reign, Amarna was abandoned, and temples to the sun were destroyed.
Images of Akhenaten were deliberately defaced.
Ancient Egypt swiftly returned to its old ways, worshipping many gods.
Was this a rejection of Akhenaten's radical religious belief system, or a cover-up of his alien identity? BAUVAL: There's been a lot of theories about why.
Um, if I mean, the most extreme is that he somehow had some sort of extraterrestrial connection.
If one accepts that conclusion, then it would explain why he was literally put off the reign and, some say, put to death.
Some Egyptologists believe Akhenaten was forced to abdicate and flee from Egypt with a group of his loyal followers.
In 1907, the actual body of Akhenaten was discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings by a British archeologist named Edward Ayrton.
After unearthing Akhenaten's mummified remains, he was able to confirm that, indeed, the ancient pharaoh's skull was misshapen and elongated.
CARGILL: Some scholars argue that he suffered from some kind of physical abnormality; he suffered from a disorder that caused his face to appear to be long, or his head actually was longer.
I think with Akhenaten we're dealing with a physical deformation that wasn't They just depicted him as he was: potbelly, sunken chest, long head.
Akhenaten was succeeded by his son, Tutankhamen, who became the most renowned pharaoh of all time.
When his tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, Tutankhamen was also found to have an elongated skull.
Could he have inherited alien genes from his father? Today, much of Akhenaten's life still remains a mystery.
Did he really change Egypt's entire belief system because, as some suggest, he was a celestial being? If that's true, might there be evidence of similar entities coming to Earth? Perhaps more clues can be found thousands of miles away on the other side of the African continent.
(men singing) Mali, in northwest Africa.
Deep in a remote valley live the Dogon people, who are the descendants of a nomadic tribe that settled here around 1000 AD.
Just like Akhenaten's followers, the Dogon had been forced to leave Egypt because of religious persecution.
SCHOCH: The Dogon claim a very long and ancient tradition, and in my opinion maintain some of the ancient Egyptian traditions and myths that have been carried on right into the present age.
Parts of ancient Egypt may not have died.
They were carried on, to this day, among the Dogon.
But what exactly are their beliefs? Dogon mythology holds that the sky.
god Amma created the first living creature known as Nommo.
The legend also says that shortly after his creation, Nommo multiplied into several parts, one of which rebelled against Amma.
Amma responded by destroying him and scattering his ashes throughout the world.
PETER FIEBAG (translated): According to the Dogons' myths, a god gave them this knowledge.
He descended from the sky in an arc, surfing on fire, landing in a storm.
TSOUKALOS: Still today, the Dogon celebrates a festival in the honor of Nommo and that visitation that occurred in the remote past.
How do we know this? For this festival, they have wooden masks that date back to a very long time ago, when this festival began.
FIEBAG (translated): Dogon masks tell the mystic stories of their ancestors.
This is a sculpture of the creator.
They call him Amma.
He is embracing the universe.
This is how they pass on information from generation to generation, by stories carved in masks.
But could Nommo have been a real person? Some see eerie similarities between the Dogons' legend and the story of the mysterious Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Akhenaten believed he was directly descended from the sun god Aten.
Nommo was said to have been created by the sky deity, Amma.
Is it a coincidence that both cultures, although thousands of miles apart, shared mythical tales of beings coming from the skies? And both Nommo and Akhenaten were depicted with elongated heads.
Is it possible that these legends were based on real events? (Fiebag speaking foreign language) FIEBAG (translated): The Dogons dwell in the central plateau region of Bandiagara.
Their knowledge is centuries old, and their priests have been sharing it with chosen individuals only.
In the 1920s, French anthropologist Grialue and ethnologist Dieterle visited the tribe and were invited to share their secrets.
But one secret stood out: the Dogon claimed that their god Amma came from a specific star in the Sirius constellation, the same place where the ancient Egyptians believed their god Osiris was born.
This star, which modern astronomers refer to as Sirius B, the Dogon called Po Tolo.
But what baffles experts is that the star is so far from Earth, it's impossible to see with the naked eye.
BAUVAL: I was very intrigued by this, by the way.
I mean, the Dogons should not have known about the existence of this star.
Sirius is the second nearest star from our solar system.
It's eight light-years away.
In fact, it's not even visible with standard telescopes.
It was first seen, literally seen, and photographed in the TSOUKALOS: Modern science has corroborated that Sirius B does indeed exist.
Problem is, the Dogon knew about this before modern science corroborated it.
I mean, that's spooky.
Measurements taken with the Hubble telescope in B is what's known as a white dwarf-- or a partially rnt-out star with extremely dense mass.
Although it is smaller in size than Earth, it's estimated to weigh eight times as much as our sun.
But how did the Dogon acquire this ancient knowledge of astronomy that seems to be centuries more advanced than that of modern science? SEAGER: The mystery is, how did this story get passed on down generations if the story came from a time before astronomers knew there was a companion star to Sirius which can't be seen with the human eye? FIEBAG (translated): This is the Dogon symbol for Sirius.
When you move it around, you can see an orbit around the center marked by Sirius A.
Sirius B circles around it, so it is a circular system.
This sign is practically an astronomic model that the Dogons could not have invented because only Sirius A is visible, and Sirius B and C are invisible.
However, their description of the orbit is correct.
One assumption is that this god, Nommo, who brought them this knowledge, could have been an extraterrestrial intelligence.
Since the early 20th century, the tribe has been routinely studied and researched by anthropologists.
This has led many modern historians to claim that the Dogon must have learned about astronomy from Westerners.
CARGILL: The Dogon's mythology is so fluid that when science confirms something that they might have believed in antiquity, it might have just been sheer coincidence, or it could have been a conflation.
That is, they heard Because it's an oral culture, and because the mythology is so fluid, they heard something that someone said about this star in relation to another star, and they just grafted that in to their mythology.
They grafted that into their religion.
And then when some reporter, some subsequent reporter comes along and says, "What do you believe? ," they say, "Well, we've thought this for millions of years.
" TSOUKALOS: When critics suggest that this knowledge was given to them by modern ethnologists, that's simply incorrect because we know that the story goes back hundreds of years earlier than any modern ethnologist ever went there.
FIEBAG (translated): If it were ever proven that all this information is exactly correct, including the parts that are still being studied by astronomers, this would mean that the earth had visitors from outer space in prehistoric times.
BAUVAL: Either they inherited that knowledge, and the question is, from where? From a previous civilization, or from some sort of extraterrestrial civilization? Or it's a coincidence.
In my view, it is not a coincidence.
If the Dogon people really possessed this advanced astronomical knowledge, were their legends based on real events? The ancient Egyptians and Dogon were far from alone in their belief in gods or mystical beings that came from the sky.
Is there an explanation for similar myths shared by ancient cultures all around the world? And what does that reveal as to who these visitors may be? Perhaps the answer can be found, not in northern Africa, but here in the rocks and canyons of the American Southwest.
Mexico lies the pueblo of Zuni.
Sheltered from the desolate high plains, this adobe city is home to the Zuni Indians, one of the oldest indigenous tribes in North America.
They have inhabited this land for almost 2,000 years, and have protected their secrets even longer.
CHRIS O'BRIEN: The Zuni are a very interesting culture in that they're one of theew cultures that really have not opened up, uh, to the rest of the world about their star knowledge traditions.
Most of this type of information is very closely held by the natives.
And, um, I really find it very intriguing that this is the time period in history where now we're starting to learn more and more about their star knowledge.
Much of the Zuni people's history is etched in the rocks in the New Mexico desert.
Tribal Elder Clifford Mahooty and archeologist Dan Simplicio have studied the Zuni's secret history firsthand.
They've collected stories passed down through generations that are rooted in the belief that the tribe's creators and protectors are supernatural beings from the sky.
DAN SIMPLICIO: This one's kind of interesting here.
I would imagine it was created in last century, but from this design, you can see the star figure.
Celestial images oftentimes are depicted in a lot of our cultural petroglyphs.
And this is one of 'em where it depicts the star.
It could be the supernova of the crab nebula.
CLIFFORD MAHOOTY: Our Zuni mythology in the prayer system, in the ritualistic protocols, talk about these people that came over here, and told us how to actually live our lives as beings, sky people.
If you listen to a lot of religious chants and songs and prayers, that's all they talk about.
They're talking about space.
They're talking about out there in the universe where they came from.
So they depict it on a rock wall here.
But the actual meaning of it is somewhere more profound and more complex than that.
These drawings are thought to have been created around 1200 BC, yet they appear to depict modern space travelers and their vehicles.
SIMPLICIO: If you move back a little bit, you can see another figure here.
It has a de.
It has eyes.
Uh, there's something coming down MAHOOTY: And a nose.
SIMPLICIO: Like a nose.
There's a nose, but it kind of flares out MAHOOTY: I think it was something to do with the ancient ones, when they saw something.
They took as much description of it to put in on there.
Of course it's not going to be exactly what they saw, but that's as best as they can do for something that they saw.
CHILDRESS: With all petroglyphs and things like that, I mean, they're up to interpretation.
Sometimes they are just doodlings of people.
But other times, they may well be actual descriptions and depictions of some kind of god from outer space, some ancient astronaut.
And when you go around, say like the Zuni pueblo, I mean, that's what they'll tell you those petroglyphs e.
Even the Zunis themselves call them the spacemen.
SIMPLICIO: This one seems to have two legs coming out like that.
It has a, you know, broad diamond shape body.
Um, there probably was a better head that chipped off here.
Well, that's very different-looking than humans are.
MAHOOTY: Now usually they're called UFOs.
But in the Zuni way, we've always been taught that they're the keepers of the upper world, which means space.
You know, they're sky people.
Beings that are of the extraterrestrial origin, and this is still within our mythology and our religious practices today.
Like most Indian tribes, the Zunis call these sky people kachinas.
According to the Zunis' creation story, the kachina gods came down from the heavens to lead the Zunis to earth through a special portal.
MAHOOTY: The sipapu-- that's the entrance to the fourth world, or the underworld.
And that's a representation of where the kachinas come and go.
And so, according to the mythologies, the Zunis were brought forth into the world of light-- which is where we are at today-- by what I would interpret as extraterrestrial beings from the universe.
(singing in native language) Every year, the Zunis participate in a ceremony known as the Shalako festival.
Dressed in traditional costumes to represent the kachinas, the Indians celebrate the arrival of the gods on earth.
(singing continues) CHILDRESS: This is a-a figurine of kachina gods.
And these guys are some gods from the sky who came down.
Uh, they wear weird helmets.
TSOUKALOS: This one has a helmet as a head, and if you look at the whole body of it, it's as if it wears some type of a of a suit.
This one here also has the helmet and the visor.
CHILDRESS: For the Pueblo Indians, like the Zunis, these are their-their sky-gods that every year, they have special ceremonies.
People put on these special costumes and masks to reenact the coming of the gods.
They really look like ancient astronauts.
BILL BIRNES: If you look at the poetry and the legends and the stories from American Indian tribes in the Southwest, they have the legend of the star people.
The star people came to Earth and seeded planet Earth, and they came on flying ships.
If you speak to the elders, they will tell you that a lot of us believe in the existence of extraterrestrials.
KARR: These are timeless traditions that have been passed on through the centuries from clan to clan, from family to family, from family member to family member.
And it is an oral tradition.
Native peoples did not have the written word.
They had the spoken word.
And culturally, the spoken word is still a significant component of their daily lives, and the ability to pass down the truth.
SIMPLICIO: I remember my grandparents talking about a craft that flew and had actually crash-landed on one of the mesas east of here.
There's no interpretation of what an aircraft is, so the closest thing that they could interpret as anything capable of flight is a bird, or our masked kachina dancers.
MAHOOTY: We are very, very superstitious people.
It's always been in the history of Zuni that they have always been here even right here where we're sitting right now, but you just don't see them.
They're in a different frequency.
And those are very, very sacred, and those are very, very secret.
They're out there somewhere.
For those who believe that ancient astronauts came to earth thousands of years ago, the prehistoric artwork provides more clues in what they claim is a growing body of evidence: from wall carvings and statues in ancient Egypt to tribal traditions and exotic masks in West Africa to petroglyphs in the American Southwest.
All thousands of years old, they seem to recount similar stories of visitors from the skies.
Could the legends of alien beings visiting earth thousands of years ago have inspired more traditional beliefs? Celestial beings coming down to Earth.
Gods descending from the sky.
Can these events only be found in the ancient legends of the Zuni? Do similar accounts exist in other cultures and other religions across the world? And if so, what is the explanation? TSOUKALOS: We have to remind ourselves that our ancestors were highly intelligent.
However, their technological frame of reference was different than our technological frame of reference, so they didn't have the vocabulary with which to describe or with which to name certain things that they saw.
So what did they do? They used words that they were familiar with in their time, and so they tried to describe whatever they witnessed to the best of their abilities with their vocabulary.
Ancient China also shared some of the same beliefs that can be found in Egyptian, Native American, and Dogon legends-- that deities arrived from the stars.
According to Chinese mythology dating back to 3000 BC, when the god named Huang Di was born, there was "a radiance from the great star Chi.
" Huang Di would later emerge from the belly of a fire- breathing dragon to become China's first emperor.
YOUNG: The origins of the Han Chinese people start with a story of a great god looking down with empathy.
Here were people in poverty, in a beautiful, rich country, the landscape profound, but the people were suffering.
He took pity and decided to come down.
TSOUKALOS: Huang Di arrived on planet Earth in a flying dragon.
He had the power of flight.
Huang Di could be anywhere within minutes, and he usually accomplished this by hopping on his dragon and flying somewhere.
YOUNG: Now this divine energy becomes human and is a great leader-- the Yellow Emperor who rules and unites the people-- and there is a period of great prosperity until his work is done.
Huang Di brought order to the chaos, creating China's first empire.
He is seen as a cultural hero, and is credited with the invention of the compass, acupuncture, and the standardization of Chinese writing.
One of his greatest legacies is the Great Wall of China.
YOUNG: When the land is prosperous, he decides it's time to go, and the great yellow dragon comes back and he gets back into the belly of the dragon and flies off forev.
TSOUKALOS: Now, were these dragons truly dragons in a biological nature? Or were they misinterpreted types of machines? Because, as we all know, dragons are always correlated with spewing fire and a lot of smoke.
Whenever we see a modern rocket take off, there is all this smoke, and sometimes the smoke is yellow and sometimes it's red.
So it's very bizarre how we have these correlations between the ancient times and modern times today.
YOUNG: Mythology is the effort to grasp what we can't grasp, to understand what is beyond us.
In the Eastern teachings, the dragons very often carry people, sometimes on their back or sometimes inside their bellies, so if we think of them as, as a poet's effort to explain a vehicle that was strange to them, well, those sound like flying saucers.
So it might just be a problem with translation because, after all, it's just a word.
It's trying to describe something that's very difficult to grasp.
another tale of celestial beings influencing civilization can be found, this time in what is now modern-day Iraq.
The Babylonian legend of Enuma Elish dates back to the seventh century BC.
The text was first discovered in Austen Henry Layard while searching the ruins of the Library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh.
The story tells of how the first humans were created by an extraterrestrial re known as the Anunnaki.
TSOUKALOS: In the ancient texts of Sumeria, we have descriptions of these beings descending from the sky called the Anunnaki.
The term "Anunnaki" means "those who from the heavens came.
" It says, word for word, that these beings descended in flying vehicles from the sky, and we can find not only descriptions of the Anunnaki, but also depictions and we can see them in statues, in carvings, so it's all very interesting to see that those beings looked like modern-day space travelers with weird suits.
Some of them wore wristwatches.
They had boots on and helmets and, above all, wings, and they were always described or depicted in floating above some "regular people.
" So the question is: who were the Anunnaki? And according to the ancient astronaut hypothesis, they were space travelers who visited Earth in the remote past.
Similar themes can be found in the legends of Greek and Roman gods, which also describe events that some interpret as extraterrestrial contact.
Both cultures believed in powerful gods who lived in the heavens and often came down to Earth to interact with humans.
(thunder cracks) CHILDRESS: A well-known example is Zeus and the Greek gods, and they've come down from the sky and Mount Olympus, where they live in some mountain, and they're bringing, really, civilization and sciences to mankind, but they have many human attributes, too, where, yeah, they, uh, they're attracted to human women, uh, they want to have sex and children with as many of 'em as they can, and then they go back into the sky.
THOMAS BULLARD: These ideas of gods mating with humans are very commonplace, like Zeus in Greek mythology was always coming down, mating with mortals, and producing demigods like Hercules or Helen of Troy, who were exceptionally beautiful, exceptionally powerful, unusually gifted in every way.
So, in other words, you were creating a better race in, in this sense.
TSOUKALOS: In the ancient astronaut opinion, the whole pantheon of gods that we have in ancient Greece consists of nothing else but flesh-and-blood extraterrestrials who were misinterpreted as being these divine creatures by our ancestors.
CREMO: There is a lot of evidence showing that we're not alone in the cosmos and that our human civilizations on Earth have been interacting for long periods of time with extraterrestrial intelligences.
Belief in celestial beings interacting with humans is a cornerstone in several major religions.
In fact, according to the Bible's Book of Genesis, God created the first humans Adam and Eve.
The Bible also contains other passages that describe strange interactions between "otherworldly" beings and humans.
CARGILL: People believe messengers of some sort come down from the heavens.
You know, they came down and they had sex with humans, and this is where we produced giants, people like Goliath, so in a technical sense, they are alien.
They're gods or they're angels; there's some kind of superhuman thing.
Interpreting these Bible stories has also led to a certain amount of debate and controversy.
While most see a single god directing and influencing mankind's destiny, others argue that it is really a number of gods that are responsible.
TSOUKALOS: In the Old Testament, it says very clearly, "And then God created man in our own image.
" Now, grammatically speaking, that sentence doesn't make sense, because you have "God" and then you have "our image.
" Well, theologians suggest that, by "our," what they meant is the Trinity, the Holy Trinity, so basically, if you were to change the word "god" to "gods," then all of a sudden, the sentence makes sense-- "and then the gods created man in our own image.
" CARGILL: So you have this reference-- "let us create man in our image.
" In several religious texts, specifically the Hebrew Bible, which Christians also accept, and in the Koran, which Muslims revere as holy, you have the reference to God in the plural, and it is incredibly interesting.
But do all these religious scriptures that tell similar stories really point to the possibility that aliens have visited Earth throughout ancient history? BIRNES: The fact is, the story of creation in our own Bible is the story of creation in cultures around the world.
The story of the flood, the evolution of the human species, the development of language-- all of this points to-- in fact, the Bible says so-- life on Earth came from contact with an extraterrestrial life form.
That's in the Bible.
That's in ancient cultures around the world.
So I believe the theory of ancient astronauts is true, and I believe there's solid evidence there, and I believe the harder you try to refute that evidence, the more you wind up against a brick wall.
That ancient astronauts visited us, visited Earth thousands upon thousands of years ago, and seeded the very civilization we have today.
If the believers in the ancient astronaut theory are correct, then just who were these visitors? And might cutting-edge astrophysics and biology help us to uncover their identity? On March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov stepped outside the Voskhod 2 and became the first human to walk in space.
He spent 12 minutes and eight seconds outside his ship before returning.
Leonov's survival depended upon a protective suit that could keep him alive where there was neither atmospheric pressure nor oxygen.
If we need spacesuits, would aliens traveling to Earth require the same protection? Is that what we're looking at in these ancient carvings and drawings? TSOUKALOS: When critics ask, "Well, why would ancient astronauts have to wear astronaut suits like that we're familiar with today?," the answer is very simple.
Can we go through space without wearing a type of suit? Of course not.
We would die.
'Cause who says that whoever visited us in the remote past, that they could breathe in the atmosphere of planet Earth? So, it's not farfetched to suggest that they did, in fact, wear some type of suit.
Why might these images resemble modern astronauts? If they are aliens, is it possible they are similar to humans? And could they have come from a planet just like Earth? At the turn of the 20th century, a group of British and German scientists considered this possibility.
They embraced a theory put forth by early Greek philosophers, that all life in the universe began in one specific place.
This theory is called panspermia.
SEAGER: Panspermia is the theory that life formed in one place, and then got spread around to other places.
In outer space in the medium between stars, we see molecules that are the building blocks of life.
So it's easy to get the building blocks of life to another planet.
For example, if life formed on Mars, it could have come here to Earth, contaminated Earth, and then started life here.
Roughly 3.
6 billion years ago, Mars was warm and wet, much like the conditions on Earth today.
Biologists believe that because Mars cooled more quickly than other planets, life may have developed there first.
(whirring) PAUL DAVIES: Mars is a better candidate for life during the early part of the solar system.
Mars rocks are coming here all the time, and these have been knocked off Mars by asteroid and comet impacts.
And we know that they could convey any Martian microorganisms to Earth.
In August 1996, a team of scientists made a stunning announcement.
A Martian meteorite found in Antarctica contained evidence of fossilized life.
The four-pound rock, designated ALH 84001, showed the presence of carbonate globules excreted by microbes when they were alive on Mars 3.
6 billion years ago.
Earth was no longer alone.
Life had existed elsewhere in the universe.
DAVIES: So this cross- contamination beeen Mars and Earth, which 20 years ago was regarded as a rather wild conjecture, is now pretty much accepted by the astrobiology community.
Astrobiologists studying the origin and evolution of life in the universe embraced the possibility that life on Earth began in outer space.
Did modern-day scientists finally prove what ancient cultures have believed for centuries? BAUVAL: The common myth or idea that the origins of humankind is from the stars is widespread.
Ancient cultures have The ancient Egyptians, the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Indians and so forth Uh, is intriguing, and it's probably true.
And I mean it from an astrophysical point of view.
We do come from the stars.
It's a fact that life on earth has been seeded by the coming of a comet containing the life matter.
SCHOCH: I personally suspect there is life out there.
In fact, I believe that we have evidence if nothing else, microbial evidence, for life extraterrestrially.
But if life did land on Earth from outer space, was it by accident, or might it have been sent here on purpose? One mainstream scientist thought so.
British geneticist Francis Crick is best known for his collaboration with James Watson.
Together, they unraveled the structure of human DNA in 1953.
Less than ten years later, they were awarded the Nobel Prize for their groundbreaking work in genetics.
In the 1960s, Crick became a proponent of panspermia theory and took it to a whole new level with an idea he called directed panspermia.
GRAHAM HANCOCK: Francis Crick hypothesized that somewhere, perhaps on the other side of the galaxy, there had been a civilization of advanced intelligent beings.
And they had found that their planet was going to be destroyed.
Perhaps a supernova was going to go off in their vicinity, and their planet would be sterilized of life.
And he asked himself, "What would an intelligent civilization do in that situation?" Um, well, first of all, they'd try to figure out if they could get out of there, if they could actually preserve their lives and the lives of their descendants.
Perhaps crowd into spaceships and fly across interstellar space until they found a suitable planet to colonize.
But could it actually be true? Could we really be the descendants of an alien race that traveled here from another world? POPE: The ultimate implication of some exobiological theories is actually that we ourselves are extraterrestrials, that life on earth arose because organic material was brought here from elsewhere.
BIRNES: What if we're the ones, the descendants of those who came from another planet? We weren't created.
We were brought here, seeded planet Earth as a colony from some other planet.
So we're colonists of another race.
And that's why the aliens look like us.
SCHOCH: In my opinion, it's not unscientific to consider the possibility of ancient astronauts, alien intervention.
We live in a huge universe.
Now, bacteria versus humanoids-- one may say, that's a big difference, but in some ways, it's not a big difference.
Where you have life, you have the ability for that life to develop into what we consider civilization or intelligent beings.
Is it just a coincidence that modern science and ancient alien theory have come to the same conclusion: that life on Earth came from the stars? And if it's possible that billions of years ago, an extraterrestrial race spread out across space, how would they survive in their new home? Could they really be our missing link? For thousands of years, mankind has tried to depict alien beings who they believe came from the skies.
Many of those creatures seem to share characteristics with humans.
They often have two arms, two legs, fingers and a head just like we do.
Biologists refer to this basic body shape as bilateral symmetry.
MICHAEL DENNIN: Bilateral symmetry is, very simply, you divide something down the middle into two parts, and lateral means up and down, and the two sides are an exact reflection of each other.
If you fold the thing in half, all the parts line up.
RUSSELL TUTTLE: Being bilaterally symmetric allows you to be streamlined and to develop a head end, so you become cephalized.
And that certainly happened in vertebrates.
Virtually, the mouth at the end of something and then you get progressive development, and that seems to have led to many, many advances.
(creatures chirping, chittering) DENNIN: So, when you look at it closely, you can see a lot of advantages coming in.
Having the two arms and two legs to work together really gives you great mobility and balance and speed.
Having eyes on two sides separated gives really improved vision in various ways.
Animals that are predominantly prey use their two eyes independently and get a huge field of view.
Animals that are predominantly hunters have them more in the front and get really good depth perception, which you need if you're gonna land on the animal you're hunting.
(lion growling) If it is true that aliens resemble humans in their physical characteristics, might there also be genetic similarities? Could we even be related? In 2003, the U.
Government announced that the Human Genome Project had idfntified all of the nearly 25,000 genes in the human body.
For the first time, scientists had a road map to the genetic make-up of humans.
In 2006, genetic researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz discovered an area of the genome they called HAR1 that appears to be unique to humans.
Scientists believe the HAR1 gene plays a critical role in the advanced development of the human brain, and is a key element that sets us apart from other animals.
But where did it come from? Did humans develop this distinct gene naturally through evolution? Or did it land here from another planet? Francis Crick, the British scientist who helped discover the structure of DNA, believed that human genes could not have evolved by chance.
HANCOCK: Crick didn't feel in that period of roughly formation of the planet down to the time when the planet could first support life, there was enough time for DNA to evolve by accident.
It's an enormously complicated molecule.
Crick gave this analogy: You would be more likely to assemble a fully functioning and flying jumbo jet by passing a hurricane through a junkyard than you would be to assemble the DNA molecule by chance in any kind of primeval soup in five or six hundred million years.
It's just not possible.
But if this molecule could not have evolved accidentally, how was it created? Was it, as some believe, put there on purpose? TSOUKALOS: The question should not be do the extraterrestrials look like us or what do the extraterrestrials look like, but do we look like the extraterrestrials? Because according to the ancient astronaut theory, a long, long time ago, extraterrestrials came here, and through a targeted mutation of our genes, we-- quote, unquote-- "became human.
" (Fiebag speaking foreign language) FIEBAG (translated): Possibly there is information in our DNA about whether human evolution was manipulated or not.
The DNA is almost deciphered, yet we only understand five percent of the information it carries.
TSOUKALOS: Geneticists have determined that it only takes about five percent to clone a human being, and that that we have in our bodies is nothing more than what they refer to as "genetic junk.
" DENNIN: Why is everything there? And there's probably parts of the DNA that don't have an obvious current function.
Maybe they're left over from something that was used in the past, kind of like our appendix is left over.
Could this "genetic junk" hold the key to the evolution of humans? Some people suggest that decoding our DNA entirely will unlock startling information about our origins.
But could it even prove that aliens played a role in our development thousands of years ago? HANCOCK: If you hypothetically wanted to record an eternal message that could be decoded by a creature that had eventually evolved enough intelligence to decode it, the place to put that message would not be on some monument or in some text, which might be swept away, but actually on the DNA of the creature itself.
(baby cooing) It's recently been established that DNA is a recording medium of almost limitless power.
It would be technically possible to record the entire knowledge of a civilization on the DNA in our bodies.
All you'd need is a way to access that information.
VON DANIKEN: I think we have something, the whole humanity, in our genes.
Somewhere in our genes it is coded that extraterrestrials were here thousands of years ago.
But the questions persist: If aliens visited Earth tens of thousands of years ago how did they get here? When we look to the past for the answers, are we looking in the wrong place? Should we actually look forward to our future? Scientists agree that the best chances of finding alien life will be on planets similar to ours, and descriptions of extraterrestrials seem to resemble humans in many ways.
Some ancient astronaut theorists draw a surprising conclusion from these facts, suggesting that aliens might actually be human.
POPE: It is odd that many of the descriptions of aliens are effectively humanoid, and this raises an interesting possibility.
One idea that's been put forward is that, uh, these are not extraterrestrials at all, but they're time travelers from the future.
NOORY: They could be us from a thousand, 2,000, 10,000 years from now.
Let's assume for a moment that planet, if we all survive, that time travel was created.
They've invented it.
Just like the time machine of H.
Wells' day, they can go back, or they can go forward.
So let's assume 10,000 years from now we decide to come back to see us.
Maybe they have changed physically.
They look like the alien grays or whoever they may be.
BIRNES: It could well be that ancient astronauts might not be creatures from other planets at all, but time travelers from 2720 in a time machine.
Time travel is an essential concept for science fiction, but would it be possible for flesh-and-blood humans to find a way to transport themselves through time with current technology? Would this enable us to cover the vast distances of space? PAUL DAVIES: If I could travel close to the speed of light, I could reach the year Have to get very close to the speed of light for that, but it's doable, and we know that this isn't a theory, this is this is real physics-- we could demonstrate these time-warping effects.
So you can reach the future quicker by traveling close to the speed of light.
(whooshing) The concept of time travel was first proposed by Albert Einstein in 1905 when he published his Theory of Special Relativity.
DENNIN: Ancient astronaut theory says that astronauts visited us a long time ago from somewhere else.
The technology involved in doing that, we would assume would be similar to what we understand now.
I mean, we know special relativity is a law of physics.
It holds anywhere in the universe.
Ancient astronauts that would come all the way here can travel these large distances and not age that much, relative to their home planet.
Because if you're going close enough to the speed of light, you will have slowed down time enough that when you get back, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years could have passed.
One limitation to this method of travel is that because a spacecraft has mass, it theoretically cannot reach the exact speed of light.
The resulting reduction in velocity would then dramatically increase the amount of time needed to cross the vast universe.
NOORY: Well, there's definitely many theories about how extraterrestrials got here, how their propulsion system got them to planet Earth.
They're surely not coming here the way we go out into space.
They'd never get here.
They are finding different ways.
They have either developed a new form of propulsion, or they're able to travel through-- what I've always believed-- wormholes throughout the universe.
That would instantaneously put them here.
The idea of wormholes was first proposed in longtime collaborator Nathan Rosen.
They began to explore the possibility that space and time could literally be bent to create a time travel shortcut.
DENNIN: Wormholes have not been detected.
They are a postulated structure in space that involve actually taking-- if you want to think of a sheet of paper-- bending it in half and connecting the two pieces that you get together.
A wormhole is thought to do something like that.
Space gets warped, and it connects between two different parts of space.
You know, there's predictions about what they would look like; there's theories about them, but we haven't detected one yet.
You're not actually ever traveling faster than the speed of light; you're just cutting corners.
CHILDRESS: You don't actually have to go light speed and travel for light-years to someplace.
You literally go there through a wormhole and through hyperspace, and bang, you're there.
DAVIES: If you can have a wormhole in space, then it can be turned, in principle, into a time machine.
And so travel back in time as well as forward in time would then be possible.
The problem is: where do you get your wormhole? Uh, it's not inconceivable that wormholes were made in the Big Bang, coughed out along with everything else, and there might be one out there in the universe we could harvest or adapt to form a time machine.
DENNIN: If you end up discovering that you could make wormholes, then that increases the range that you can explore in space and that increases the likelihood of having two civilizations at the same time with the right technology to communicate with each other.
While theoretically possible, traveling through wormholes or at the speed of light is currently both economically and technically impossible for us here on Earth.
Using modern propulsion methods, it would take 70,000 years to reach the nearest star.
DAVIES: Our fastest rockets are totally puny.
It's really pathetic.
So we're talking about .
Any object that we can fire out into the solar system is going to take tens of thousands of years to reach the nearest star.
Believe it or not, at 4.
6 billion yrs old, our solar system is one of the youngest in the universe.
But if civilizations exist in other galaxies, is it possible that they are more advanced than those on Earth? And if so, could they be ahead of us in their ability to travel through space and time? CHILDRESS: For extraterrestrials to come here, through the vast reaches of space to our planet, they clearly have to have technology that's way in advance of what we have today.
To go from solar system to solar system, rather than going warp speed, like in Star Trek, you really are going to travel, as they do in Star Wars, where you're jumping through hyperspace.
Going from a solar system to solar system is no time at all.
TSOUKALOS: Just because we can't travel from star to star does not mean another more advanced society can't do it either.
I think that's the height of human arrogance to say, "Just because we can't do it, another more advanced civilization can't do it either," so, you know, we have to stop looking at us that we are the pinnacle of creation 'cause we're not.
Celestial beings.
Visitors from the skies.
Deities descending from the heavens to interact with man.
Could these worldwide stories be the foundation for the prevailing belief that something greater than ourselves, from beyond our world, created the universe as we know it? Almost all of the great world faiths are based on stories of celestial beings who visit Earth.
Many millions of people accept these legends as part of their core beliefs.
And from the earliest cave drawings to images at Roswell, we see artists' interpretations of extraterrestrials or gods coming to our planet.
YOUNG: In many traditions, there is something coming from above.
There is a stairway to heaven or there's a whirlwind or an angel descends.
Sometimes the encounter is quite dangerous.
As would be appropriate to something awesome and larger and more powerful than we are.
Usually it is memorable.
CHILDRESS: Many of the myths are much more specific and they really talk about gods physically coming to Earth-- landing, doing miracles, and showing the people how to live.
If visitors did come from the stars, is it possible that they actually changed the way ancient people thought? Did they provide an intellectual spark to prehistoric civilizations? Could that be the reason why so many different cultures could build such large and lasting monuments? NOORY: It's almost as if primitive man woke up one morning and went, "Hey, I've got this knowledge and I know how to make tools and I'm gonna go and build all these things.
" Nah, I don't think it happened that way.
I think others came down to this planet and started teaching other people, uh, that were beginning to evolve.
But the one thing I truly do not believe is that modern cavemen at the time basically created all this knowledge out of thin air.
TSOUKALOS: All around the world, we have concise descriptions in ancient texts which say word for word that some beings came from the sky.
So it's as if this intellectual Big Bang or this Big Bang of knowledge occurred in various periods of time, and those various periods of time most concisely always correlate with some type of description of gods descending from the sky.
HANCOCK: I do think of that as a very significant before-and-after moment in the human story, and it is not a moment that is linked to physical evolution.
We've already got the hardware.
It's as though something happened to our software around about that time, and I think it's a very intriguing moment in the human story.
For supporters of ancient alien theory, the verdict is already in.
They believe that aliens visited many of Earth's earliest cultures thousands of years ago.
But is it possible? Are extraterrestrials responsible for the sacred creation myths of the first human civilizations? Might they have tampered with our DNA? Are humans themselves aliens from another planet in the heavens or even from another time? While man continues to search for these answers, the questions remain.
If they came here, what was their mission? We call Earth home, but with perfect conditions for life, could it be a beacon, calling out to other intelligent civilizations that may exist in the universe? CARGILL: I think there is life, simple life, bacterial life, microbial life on other planets.
I think we're going to find that.
And who knows? Maybe one day we'll find some other planet that's capable of sustaining life, that has evolved people over a long period of time, that are also looking up at the stars wondering: is there anybody else out there, are we the only ones? HELDMANN: What bigger question could we ask about ourselves and our place in the universe? You know, is there life elsewhere in the universe, or are we it? I mean, I think it's one of the most fascinating questions, and we're fortunate enough to live in a time when we can address this question scientifically and really try and get at some answers.
NOORY: You can then come up with a conclusion that something, one, very strange is happening on this planet, and two, if it's coming from outside of this system, then we're being visited by something that has some intelligence behind it.
TSOUKALOS: In the end the truth wins, and we've seen this in history, where scientific theories or ideas that have been deemed impossible turned out to be true, and so it is my firm conviction that the same will count for the ancient alien theory.

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