Ancient Aliens s13e14 Episode Script

The Alien Phenomenon

1 NARRATOR: It is a book that caused a global sensation.
WILLIAM SHATNER: A book that says aliens visited Earth and then helped build the pyramids influences the whole world.
NARRATOR: It challenged everything we thought we knew about humanity's past.
Mamma mia! It 100% questioned orthodox ideas of archaeology.
A lot of people violently disagree with you ERICH VON DANIKEN: It's absolutely normal in our society that I am attacked.
NARRATOR: But after five decades of scrutiny and investigation, how has Erich von Daniken's controversial theory held up? MEGAN FOX: We've had people that have worked at NASA go on the record saying that of course they believe extraterrestrial life exists.
NARRATOR: Join the world's prominent ancient astronaut theorists -Wow.
-as they separate fact NICK POPE: Researchers have a whole arsenal of tools at their disposal.
NARRATOR: from fiction WILLIAM HENRY: We've seen this new generation of ancient astronaut theorists bringing new facts that were previously unavailable.
NARRATOR: and explore what has become a worldwide phenomenon.
ANNOUNCER: Erich von Daniken.
DAVID CHILDRESS: At no time has there ever been such a big wave of people believing in alien life.
NARRATOR: It's a special two-hour Ancient Aliens event.
SHATNER: Von Daniken's theory is mesmerizing, because nobody knows anything.
NARRATOR: It was a year of civil unrest, colossal scientific achievement and of violent opposition to a war that seemed to have no end in sight.
It was a time when everything was questioned, and people over 30 were no longer being trusted.
You had a sociocultural revolution taking place during this decade.
Vietnam women's lib civil rights and political assassinations.
This was the time of terrible world tensions.
Nuclear annihilation was on everyone's minds.
The Soviets had nuclear weapons and missiles; so did we.
There was tremendous social and academic change all over the world, and particularly in the West.
Young people were getting their voice.
The status quo that had come out of World War II, the controlling of us, people were rebelling against that.
So things were very much changing.
(people whistling) NARRATOR: In 1962, America's 35th president, John F.
Kennedy, announced his nation's ambitious goal of putting a man on the Moon.
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
NARRATOR: Less than six years after Kennedy's audacious proclamation, a book appeared on store shelves.
Entitled Chariots of the Gods?, it threatened to push the already stretched boundaries of America's most established understandings of history archaeology science and religion.
The title complete with its enigmatic question mark was as compelling as its inquisitive premise: Did aliens come to Earth centuries ago? Did they leave behind evidence in the form of pyramids monolithic structures strange carvings and even stranger markings in the sands? And, if so, could this notion help to explain everything from mankind's origins to the unsolved mysteries of the world's most sacred religions? GRAHAM: Chariots of the Gods? reinterpreted ancient historical texts, religious texts, as evidence of ancient alien visitation.
It reinterpreted these as being something that was not necessarily divine, but rather something that was extraterrestrial nuts-and-bolts technology from another star system.
NARRATOR: The author of Chariots of the Gods? appeared to be as unthreatening and unlikely as the book's title a Swiss hotel manager by the name of Erich von Daniken.
VON DANIKEN: When I wrote Chariots of the Gods?, I was still the managing director of a first-class hotel in Switzerland.
I wrote about my ideas.
This was this burning fire in me.
I had to write the book.
And now all of a sudden, the people look to this hotel manager completely different.
In the newspaper, for weeks, they saw my face every day.
Many of the people said, "I had similar ideas, but you are the first one which comes out to public.
" NARRATOR: Having already been published in Germany, the book caused an instant sensation in the United States.
Almost overnight, Erich von Daniken rocketed from obscurity to international fame, and what later became known as ancient astronaut theory was officially on everyone's radar and in their living rooms.
(audience laughter) People find this fascinating, as you know, and a lot of people, uh probably violently disagree with you and think this is all a lot of hogwash and it sounds good and it's interesting to talk about, but there's really no, uh, what they call hard-core As you know, I have presented my books in a very provocative, in a very explosive way, and, uh, so it's absolutely normal in our society that I am attacked.
Why should it not be like this? -So, but it -Any new any new theories usually are, are they not, if they're far out -and far-reaching? -Yeah.
People immediately say, "No way.
" It's impossible, it's crazy," and so forth.
-You know Schopenhauer? -Not personally.
-But I But yes.
The philosopher? -Yeah.
-He said something.
Each new theory who finally has bloomed has three stages to run.
The first stage, everybody laughs.
It's nonsense, crackpot, forget about it.
In the second stage, uh, people don't want to speak about it anymore.
And in the third stage, the whole world says, "Oh, that?" We always said it.
" POPE: Chariots of the Gods? led to a fundamental rethink about our history, our origins and, indeed, our place in the cosmos.
The idea that our ancient gods might not be deities at all, but extraterrestrial visitors, was a game changer.
I mean, it absolutely turned the orthodoxy on its head and opened people up to whole new ways of thinking.
RAMY ROMANY: I believe that Chariots of the Gods? was one of the most impactful and most intriguing publications in the modern history.
It was full of questions, and that was the big difference.
The questions made people seek an answer.
My dad was a machinist on the Saturn Vs that went to the Moon.
And when he read Chariots of the Gods?, I think it excited him, and he knew that it might also spark something in me to do my own type of thinking, my own investigation.
And my dad always wanted me to not take people's word for things, to go figure it out for myself.
And it is one of the reasons I became a scientist.
MICHAEL DENNIN: It was able to take stories and myths and suggest that there was something real behind it.
I found that fascinating.
And thinking this way back in the '70s helped motivate and push science a little bit to think about things differently.
SHATNER: I would think that von Daniken's theory of ancient aliens appeals to our sense of mystery.
Because we're curious.
What's out there? What's under there? What's next? NARRATOR: But as popular as Chariots of the Gods? proved to be with the book-buying public, it was also perhaps not surprisingly almost entirely dismissed by members of the academic community.
CHILDRESS: The early reaction to Chariots of the Gods?, especially from the academics, was one of disgust.
In the late '60s and early '70s, it was a time when everyone just listened to the experts.
And Erich was really just torn to bits.
People attacked his character.
They attacked his research and methods.
They just didn't like what was in that book.
Of course I was attacked.
After Chariots of the Gods? first I was crushed down, more or less by the whole scientific community.
Everyone said, "He's crazy.
What is he talking about?" And then some other critics said, "Well, he's just a waiter," because I came from the hotel business, so, "How can he come up with these kind of ideas?" "Don't believe him.
He's just a science fiction author.
" NARRATOR: What was lost on many of the book's critics was the fact that von Daniken never claimed to be an archaeologist or historian.
Instead, he wrote Chariots of the Gods? from the perspective of a curious citizen, one who posed compelling questions, but did not presume to supply the answers.
VON DANIKEN: In the book, I had 238 questions.
Now, I was not absolutely sure that in every point, in every object, I was correct.
I could have been wrong, and there could be other possible answers.
But I was sure I am on the right track.
NARRATOR: But while those in the mainstream academic community were busily trying to tear von Daniken's book apart, the general public found that they could not put it down.
CHILDRESS: To lay people who were buying his books, they were interested in what his questions were, and things changed after that.
ROMANY: Everyone needed an answer to all the questions that the book was giving, and everyone became involved.
Everyone became a part of the search.
And that opened up modern science, and that opened up modern archeology, because as a young Egyptologist, as a young archeologist, having a book like that made me think not everything has to be set in stone.
I can think outside of the box.
SHATNER: What I think von Daniken's thesis has done is add imagination and wonder to the world, given the mystery of space, that everything is possible.
TSOUKALOS: It was the first book that challenged the orthodox ideas of archaeology that actually caught traction.
And it became one of the most popular books in the history of publishing.
I mean, that first run, six million copies was sold out in three weeks or something crazy like this.
NARRATOR: For a culture at war with itself, Chariots of the Gods? posed the questions that most people were thinking but too afraid to ask.
Questions that seemed well-timed for a world that was about to land a man on the Moon.
NARRATOR: In April 2018, editor and ancient astronaut theorist Giorgio Tsoukalos joined his longtime friend and mentor, Erich von Daniken, in Fribourg, Switzerland.
They came to visit the Collège Saint-Michel, the Jesuit school that Erich attended as a young boy.
It was here, more than seven decades ago, that von Daniken first began to ask the questions that would forever change his life.
Home, Giorgio.
-This is the holy place.
-This is where it all begins.
-This is beautiful.
VON DANIKEN: Imagine a young man praying every day at least a half an hour in that church.
You see I was watching these ceilings.
Look up there.
TSOUKALOS: Some of the paintings are really gorgeous.
I mean, with the rays and the people descending from the sky.
Very interesting.
VON DANIKEN: It is absolutely impressive here, really.
And now at the moment I still have the same feeling as I had as a 17-year-old.
-Look up there.
All the saints in heaven.
And here I learned for the first time that there was a war in heaven.
You know, when I was a boy, they told me when you came in heaven, heaven is the place of absolute happiness.
In heaven you are united with God.
If you are happy, united with God, then there is no war, no opposition.
That's what confuses me.
That's how it all started here.
Something was wrong in my own religious belief here.
TSOUKALOS: So, did you have any fellow students that were classmates that were interested in the things that all of a sudden you were like, "Hey, look at this.
-What do you think?" -Well, of course, you know.
I was always even as a boy I was a so-called alpha animal.
I was always the leading one.
They were listening to me.
Of course, the strong believers want to have nothing to do with Erich's crazy ideas.
But I had these thoughts in my mind where I was kneeling here, and I said my God was omnipotent.
My God did not need a vehicle to move from one point "A" to point "B.
" My God was all over, so all this was confusing.
And it all started in this church here.
So, amongst your teachers, did you have a Jesuit priest who said, "Erich, you know, if you're interested in this", -you should go and read this or that"? -Exactly.
These Jesuit priests were absolutely not orthodox.
They were absolutely friendly and helpful.
I remember one, I talked to him about my thoughts, and he said, "Erich, you should read Enoch.
" NARRATOR: Believed to have been written by Jewish mystics in the third century BC, the Book of Enoch tells the story of the archangel Michael coming to Earth to take the mortal Enoch into the heavenly realms.
Once there, Enoch is educated by the angels.
Enoch is taken up to the highest, which is the commander in spaceship of the extraterrestrials, and he learned engineering and astronomy from the extraterrestrials.
The commander said, "Some of our people "had sex with humans, and they created giants.
"And we have to destroy humanity with these giants, and we can do it only by a great flood.
" The great flood was created by extraterrestrials on purpose.
In all mythologies, including the Bible, some gods are coming down and teach the human, "A great flood will come and destroy you.
" And these gods, they knew it long before, and they knew it because they themselves made the great flood.
NARRATOR: Because the Book of Enoch was edited out of the traditional Bible sometime in the fourth century, it is considered to be too far-fetched to be credible by most people of faith.
But to a young Erich von Daniken, the Book of Enoch represented a gateway into a world of hidden and forbidden knowledge.
VON DANIKEN: After I read Enoch, I felt myself like an explorer who goes into a jungle and sees new flowers.
I said, if Enoch is correct, then there must be more information of old writers, old historian, so I was always looking, and there was more and more coming.
Then this fire in me said, "Erich, don't write about things which you don't know.
"Go there, touch them, smell them, speak to the people.
" I was absolutely sure not only in my feelings, but in my knowledge.
I was on the right track, so I was fighting for it.
So you were never an armchair researcher.
You were an explorer.
Absolutely, I was an explorer.
One of my best friends was an Egyptian, and he invited me I was 18 and a half years old to Egypt for three weeks.
Climbing up the pyramids, being under the pyramid in Saqqara in the Serapeum, etcetera.
So I knew all this from a young man.
Of course, I visited in Egypt the Great Pyramid, and it impressed me very, very much.
I always have the feeling this is not only done by humans.
Especially in Egyptology, many archeologists, they believe that they know everything.
In reality, there are thousands of open questions, starting with the builder of the Great Pyramid.
NARRATOR: Exhilarated by his trip to Egypt, Erich spent the next decade traveling to all of the sites he'd read about as a boy.
But rather than examining megalithic structures and strange carvings from a traditional, academic perspective, he looked at the world through the eyes of someone who was open to bold, new interpretations.
I was not just a young man jumping to some archeological place.
Before I went there, I read the archeological book.
Then I had to go out there, speak to the people, ask for their mythology, for their explanation.
And only when all this came together, the scientific information and the personal information, then I write about it.
Archeology is not an exact science.
It's a science where you assemble things, and then you make out your mind.
That was my way to try to do it.
NARRATOR: In Peru, von Daniken investigated the famous Nazca Lines, giant lines and symbols etched into the Earth that can only be properly viewed from high above the ground.
I read about Nazca in the newspaper.
And I saw a first picture, only one picture, which showed a line in the desert.
Nazca was not known at all to the public.
So I said, "What is this? You have to go there.
" I suggested in Chariots of the Gods? it has something to do with the extraterrestrials.
In my opinion, our ancestor made these gigantic signs in the ground because they want to signalize to the beings up there, "We are here.
Come down here.
" NARRATOR: After each trip, Erich returned to his regular job as the manager of a hotel in Davos, Switzerland.
Once there, he would save every franc he earned in order to finance his next trips.
Eventually, his globe-trotting paid off in the form of Erich's first best-selling book, Chariots of the Gods? Did you ever imagine that your ideas would become so big over the decades? No, not at all.
And in the beginning, I found no publisher.
Nobody wanted to publish it.
20 publishers rejected it, and, then, that's another story.
Finally, the book was on the market.
I was never thinking that this would create a world a storm around the world of controversy.
Well, this is incredibly special, and I feel very honored that you brought me here, because this, uh, this is something else.
The beginning of Chariots of the Gods?, here.
NARRATOR: With the publication of Chariots of the Gods? in 1968, what began as the bold notions of a curious schoolboy was about to create a paradigm shift in the way mankind would view the universe.
There would be no turning back.
NARRATOR: June 20, 1969.
(beeping) MAN: Okay, Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now.
NARRATOR: American astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first human in recorded history to set foot on an astronomical body other than Planet Earth.
NARRATOR: With one small step, he becomes our planet's first official extraterrestrial.
Within an instant, fanciful notions of aliens and spaceships became a sobering reality.
When it happened, the entire planet erupted in just absolute ecstasy.
It was a huge moment for the human spirit.
It was considered a victory for all of humanity.
Suddenly, science fiction became real, and it opened up a new age of exploration.
And this prompted many to question whether or not we were, in fact, the first to step on the surface of the Moon or not.
NARRATOR: Science fiction had now become science fact.
And books like Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods?, though no less controversial, were gaining wider acceptance with the general public.
The book also took on an almost cult status, with eventual printings in more than 28 languages.
CHILDRESS: I was in high school at the time.
And one of the things I liked was that he was looking at ancient sites from a completely different perspective than other historians.
And here they were, uh, images of extraterrestrials, mysterious giant walls.
And I wanted to go see them myself.
HENRY: I remember looking through that book and instantly connecting with the images.
There was something very familiar about some of the pictures that he showed of the ancient aliens on cave walls.
I was instantly hooked.
Since the 1970s, we've seen a major explosion in interest in this area.
FOX: I learned about Chariots of the Gods? and it blew my mind.
It resonated with me so deeply.
It just sank in as a truth for me.
LINDA MOULTON HOWE: That book, it gave us all permission to talk about extraterrestrials coming to Earth and that there could be other explanations for biblical and religious literature than angels.
TSOUKALOS: My grandmother was incredibly open-minded.
And instead of reading ordinary bedtime stories to me, she would read Chariots of the Gods? sometimes.
But I was five, six, seven years old, so she is the one that actually planted the seed.
To all of a sudden suggest that contact with extraterrestrials may have happened in our remote past, that was revolutionary.
NARRATOR: In 1970, Sun Classic Pictures released a feature-length documentary based on von Daniken's book.
ANNOUNCER: Chariots of the Gods?, the international best seller by Erich von Daniken that shattered conventional theories about history and archaeology.
Now Sun International brings it to the screen in a startling new film.
NARRATOR: Originally produced in Germany, the American language version of the film became the ninth highest grossing movie in North America that year, an incredible achievement for a documentary.
It was even nominated for an Oscar.
GRAHAM: This was hugely, hugely popular when it was released.
The impact of that documentary can't be understated, nor of the book.
The notion of ancient alien visitation went from being discussed on the fringes, uh, within the ufological subculture to being something that was discussed around the water cooler at work, for example.
NARRATOR: But while many believed that Erich von Daniken had introduced them to a new way of interpreting humanity's past, there were others, particularly those in the religious and academic communities, who believed Chariots of the Gods? was an attack on established spiritual and archaeological narratives.
They criticized von Daniken's methods and brutally dismissed his book as nothing more than pseudoscience.
If you think of these claims, if only they were true, they would be amazingly interesting, that we have been visited by beings from elsewhere who not only have created our civilization for us but mated with human beings.
It's, in my view, much more likely to successfully mate with a petunia than an extraterrestrial.
NARRATOR: But, to the surprise of many, von Daniken was not offended by his critics.
Instead, he welcomed them.
He believed that his book was meant to ask profound questions, not give answers.
Criticism, especially constructive criticism, he argued, would make his findings stronger and even more convincing.
In Delhi, in India, there is a temple and there is an iron pillar.
I was there as a 22-year old man, and this iron pillar did not rust.
I was touching it, and the local priest said, "This is here since centuries and centuries and there's not rust," so I speculated in Chariots of the Gods? maybe it's an extraterrestrial connection.
In the meantime, this damn thing is rusting.
So what can you do? You-you were simply wrong, so you accept this.
I was too young.
I was not self-critical enough.
I had to learn that sometime the critics were right and I was wrong, but that's a process of learning.
Given the mystery of space and the fantastic things that we're beginning to see in quantum, everything is possible.
There's so much that is bizarre that we can scientifically examine.
I mean, we're trying to find an explanation why the universe is expanding when it should be contracting, and we apply some theory to it.
Why not have ancient aliens come to Earth and build the pyramids, even though it's bizarre.
Bizarre is good, uh, because it stirs us up.
FOX: I think people resist anything that challenges the current paradigm quite often.
And people also don't want their life's work challenged.
So if someone is that person who's put forth the theory that's been accepted, they don't want you to take that from them by producing new evidence.
NARRATOR: Ironically, one of von Daniken's most ardent defenders started out as one of his most outspoken critics.
While making a presentation in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1972, von Daniken relayed his theory that the Bible's Book of Ezekiel, rather than describing an encounter with an angel, was actually the story of an extraterrestrial visitation.
In the account, the prophet Ezekiel describes a flying chariot drawn by four living creatures.
Each creature is flanked by a metallic object, a wheel within a wheel, that Ezekiel observes as it descends, making a tremendous amount of noise.
During his speech, Erich talked about Ezekiel and the wheel that he witnessed and also that he was taken up in this "glory of the Lord," as it is described in the Bible, and likened it to a type of spaceship.
NARRATOR: In the audience was NASA engineer Josef Blumrich, who conducted design research for the Saturn V rocket and Skylab.
As a spacecraft designer, he was certain that he could easily refute this interpretation of Ezekiel's wheel.
TSOUKALOS: After the lecture, Blumrich goes up to Erich and he says, "You know, this was interesting, "but I will defy you.
"I will go and read the Bible tonight "and I will then write a thesis how what you said tonight is total nonsense.
" NARRATOR: But after painstaking research, Blumrich was shocked to find himself agreeing with Erich von Daniken.
He became convinced that the Book of Ezekiel was indeed describing some sort of spacecraft, and he was able to design a practical landing module using the description found in the biblical texts.
In 1974, he published his findings in his book The Spaceships of Ezekiel.
Now, what's so fascinating is that, to this day, Blumrich and NASA hold a patent for an omnidirectional wheel, a wheel that actually goes forward and also goes sideways without having to have a steering movement.
The omnidirectional wheel is a common technology used today in many, many forklifts, because it allows you to get underneath the product without having to move in a obstructive way.
And the omnidirectional wheel today exists because of an Old Testament reference that Blumrich found in none other than the Book of Ezekiel.
NARRATOR: Ancient astronaut theory had found its first champion in the scientific community.
But perhaps even more impactful would be the author's influence on a younger and more open-minded generation of scholars, intellectuals and creative artists.
A creative community that included filmmakers who would soon create the most influential and successful science fiction films of all time.
NARRATOR: 1975 saw the publication of Erich von Daniken's fifth best-selling book, Miracles of the Gods, in which the increasingly prolific author examines miracles and other paranormal phenomena through the prism of what was now being called ancient astronaut theory.
The success of the book led to yet another cinematic adaptation.
Originally produced in Germany, Mysteries of the Gods was hosted by William Shatner.
As Captain Kirk, and with the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise, we made many wondrous voyages into the future, but that was fiction.
I'd like to take you along on another kind of voyage, but this is based on reality.
NARRATOR: Like Chariots of the Gods?, it chronicled many of von Daniken's more recent topics, including crystal skulls, tribal rituals and UFO encounters.
What is NASA's opinion of the possibility of life in outer space? We have concluded that, uh, you can create life-building blocks in the laboratory, which could mean that it's just as easy out in the universe.
Do you think extraterrestrial beings could have come here 5,000 years ago? Definitely possible.
Being part of that film and reading the book, I would think that von Daniken's theory of ancient aliens also represent a yearning for somebody higher, a daddy figure to take care of us.
(theme to Star Wars plays) NARRATOR: May 25, 1977.
(applause and cheering, whistling) Star Wars opens in limited release across America.
They're coming in too fast! -I got him! -Great, kid! -Don't get cocky.
-(whooshing) NARRATOR: Written and directed by George Lucas -(chirping) -Don't you call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight blob of grease! NARRATOR: it tells the story of a farm boy She's beautiful! NARRATOR: who grows up on a distant planet I'm Luke Skywalker.
I'm here to rescue you.
-(weapons firing) -This is some rescue! Somebody has to save our skins.
NARRATOR: and finds himself caught up in a galactic rebellion.
Now I am the master.
Only a master of evil, Darth.
(weapons firing) This is Red Five.
I'm going in.
You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home.
NARRATOR: Its impact -is explosive.
-(exhales) OBI-WAN KENOBI: The Force will be with you.
NARRATOR: But among the elements that make the movie and its equally successful sequels distinctive from previous science fiction offerings is the line that greets audiences at the very start of the film: It is a line that could have only made sense to people who were familiar with Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods? DAVID CHILDRESS: Science fiction up to that time had always been things happening in the future.
But when Star Wars came out, suddenly, here was science fiction happening in the remote past.
This was exactly what Erich von Daniken was writing about in Chariots of the Gods? NARRATOR: Close on the heels of Star Wars' phenomenal success was a small-screen space adventure that owed even more to von Daniken's vision.
(weapons firing) Launch.
NARRATOR: Released to television in 1978, Battlestar Galactica told the story of a group of extraterrestrial exiles looking for a promised land.
With costumes and art direction that looked distinctly Egyptian, the series suggested that the characters in the story most likely found a home on Earth in the distant past.
Another ancient astronaut-based film that rivaled Star Wars in both box office success and cultural impact was Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The film's depiction of extraterrestrials as both benign and benevolent owed much to von Daniken's theory that aliens are just as curious about us as we are about them.
The cultural impact of Chariots of the Gods? remains immense.
Everything from Star Trek, to The X-Files, to the Alien franchise has kind of incorporated these ancient astronaut ideas.
HENRY: Chariots of the Gods? has enabled creative types, from across the board in films, in television shows, in novels to-to really explore this ultimate question of where did we come from? And that is, I think, what ultimately drives this phenomenon.
Deep within us, we're almost programmed to answer that question in a creative way.
SHATNER: To come up with a book that says aliens visited Earth, and then to have movies and television and radio and-and newspapers and-and comic books deliver that message, uh, has to affect generations, absolutely.
NARRATOR: But as science fiction buffs will tell you, the idea of intelligent aliens coming to Earth and shaping its future thousands of years ago was not entirely a new one.
In 1961, Russian physicist and mathematician Matest Agrest published a controversial paper proposing that extraterrestrials had visited Earth's ancient civilizations.
Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey was based on Arthur C.
Clarke's book The Sentinel, written more than a decade earlier.
So you had a number of films that began to tap very directly into ancient astronaut lore.
In 1980, you had the release of a film called Hangar 18.
It concerns attempted reverse engineering of alien technology.
Moving into the 1990s, you had the film Stargate, which was directed by Roland Emmerich.
Roland Emmerich has made no secret of the fact that he was very directly inspired by Erich von Daniken.
Other examples would include the 2011 film Cowboys & Aliens, which was produced by Steven Spielberg; the Marvel production of Thor, which concerns ancient Norse gods being actually extraterrestrials; and Ridley Scott's Prometheus from 2012.
During the promotional campaign for that, he was very open about the fact that he was directly influenced by Erich von Daniken.
FOX: I do feel like it permeates pop culture to the point now where, if you took a survey of young adults, I would assume the majority of them are probably very open to the idea that extraterrestrials have visited us at some point, present, or in the distant past.
NARRATOR: But why is it that the public seems more open now to Erich von Daniken's ideas than at the time when the book was first written? COLLINS: The question comes of are we being influenced from some kind of non-terrestrial source? Is it possible that perhaps cosmic beings, extraterrestrials are influencing certain people to externalize our alien origins? POPE: Science fiction may be entertainment, but when you look at Hollywood blockbusters, so many of them relate to how we interact with other species in the universe.
Why is that? Perhaps this is hard-wired into us.
We know that this was our past, and we know that it will be our future.
There has never been a time in history when humanity was more prepared for the appearance of these extraterrestrials.
Through our modern science, our understanding of space travel, coupled with our entertainment and our culture that's been preparing us for the existence of extraterrestrials, we are now absolutely more ready than ever for the appearance of these beings.
NARRATOR: Is it possible that there was an extraterrestrial inspiration behind Chariots of the Gods? And if so, are we being prepared for a reconnection with the same beings that, according to Erich von Daniken, visited Earth thousands of years ago? Ancient astronaut theorists say yes, and suggest further evidence can be found by examining the vast influence the book has had, and continues to have, all across the world.
During the decades that followed the publication of Chariots of the Gods?, ancient astronaut theory was becoming a movement.
Growing millions of people were now increasingly open to the idea that not only are humans not alone in the universe, but that intelligent aliens continue to monitor their progress.
HOWE: And so something began to turn in the entire American psyche.
People are asking very intelligent questions.
NARRATOR: Although still rejected by mainstream scholars and archaeologists, it was attracting a growing army of researchers, writers and journalists.
Erich was making these places very exciting and fascinating.
And for me, it was exciting that, wow, all these places were out there.
They can be seen.
They're real.
So I really have to give him the credit because it helped me travel around the world.
Reading Erich's books gave me a whole new view on the past.
HENRY: And I remember looking through that book, and I was instantly hooked.
And really just started diving deep into this whole idea, this theory that humans had long ago interacted with, and been incredibly altered by, extraterrestrial beings.
NARRATOR: Fueling the growing army of ancient astronaut theorists were exciting new archaeological discoveries, like Gobekli Tepe, a series of stone monoliths found buried in the plains near Sanliurfa, Turkey in 1996.
According to radiocarbon dating, the structures could be as much as 12,000 years old, more than 5,000 years older than the earliest known civilization in Mesopotamia.
PAUL BAHN: The site of Gobekli Tepe in Southeast Turkey very rapidly became one of the most important archeological sites in the world, because we'd never before known or imagined, even, that simple hunter-gatherers could produce such spectacular monumental structures as are found at Gobekli Tepe.
These limestone pillars are up to 18 feet high.
They're beautifully dressed and smoothed.
We've never seen work like that from that period before.
And the geomagnetic analyses that have been done of what's under the surface seem to indicate that there are at least 20 major circular structures in this mound.
And so far they've dug up to half of them, but there's still an awful lot of work to go.
CHILDRESS: Erich had theorized that these ancient civilizations, many of them in contact or developed by extraterrestrials, were destroyed in a cataclysm like the biblical flood of the Bible.
Gobekli Tepe was built over 12,000 years ago, and we have no records of it being built or who built it.
So you have to ask yourself: were the people who built Gobekli Tepe destroyed in a great flood like was depicted in the Bible? FOX: The theory that I gravitate to the most is just that there was a a pre-flood advanced civilization that was almost entirely eradicated at some point.
And the idea of that being connected to the Younger Dryas, because there do seem to be a lot of these megalithic structures that were erected around the same time.
Like you have Robert Schoch, who's dated the Sphinx, I think, to 12,000 years ago.
And we have Gobekli Tepe, which turned everything on its head.
NARRATOR: Another, even more recent, discovery that has added fuel to the ancient astronaut argument was made in West Java, Indonesia.
In 2011, archaeologists began a formal excavation of a site known as Gunung Padang, or "Mountain of Light.
" Gunung Padang is a megalithic pyramid hill in Java.
A Javanese geologist by the name of Danny Hilman has led a team to investigate the deeper levels of the site.
And he's found indisputable evidence that it goes back to at least 8000 BC.
And, indeed, in the center of it is what appears to be a lava tube, and that has given dating evidence that suggests that there was human activity there as early as 25000 BC.
NARRATOR: 25000 BC? Could this pyramid-shaped hill really be hiding a structure that ancient humans built 20,000 years before the first known civilization? Utilizing ground-penetrating radar and seismic tomographic scans, geologists discovered that concealed beneath the Earth is a step pyramid that is over 300 feet tall.
Gunung Padang is, of course, linked to local mythology.
And in local mythology, it means the "Mountain of Light.
" In Indonesian star lore, there's a constellation of particular interest.
They call it Vendum Viduk.
We call it Ursa Major.
It is thought that it is the shape of a boat, and that the original craft, the original starship carrying the people, came from this place to their land.
Their houses, the longhouses, the community structures, are built in the shape of a boat, always facing northward, in honor of the place of their origins.
These star travelers are said to have started the original royal family.
The name of the people, Toraja, means "those who come from the stars.
" NARRATOR: Adding to the compelling notion of "star travelers" are the ever-increasing number of archaeological discoveries that feature carvings of what appear to be spacemen.
Although many earlier examples had already been chronicled in von Daniken's early books, the sheer number of recent finds and the global nature of them has helped to undermine the notion that these ancient petroglyphs are entirely based on myth.
CHILDRESS: There is a vast number of ancient images that appear to be people in space suits.
Some of these are in remote places, like southern Algeria, where even archeologists have given names to these people in space suits, like "the Martian god" and things like that.
Many of the petroglyphs at Nine Mile Canyon in Utah are very strange.
At the Family Panel, we see what appears to be a man and a woman standing there.
They seem to have space helmets on their heads with antenna.
The Navajos themselves claim that these petroglyphs were from people who were before the flood, before this cataclysm had come to the Earth.
And they maintain that these images were many thousands of years old.
NARRATOR: But rock carvings and ancient monoliths are not the only recent discoveries that have helped build upon Erich von Daniken's original theory.
There are some made of flesh and bone, and where the scientific evidence of ancient astronauts might be indisputable.
NARRATOR Paracas, Peru.
February 2018.
In his ongoing search for further evidence that ancient aliens came to Earth centuries ago, Erich von Daniken travels to the Paracas History Museum to meet with the museum's assistant director, Brien Foerster.
Foerster has promised to give him an up-close look at a remarkable collection of skulls skulls which von Daniken believes -are not of human origin.
-FOERSTER: These were all found in the same tomb, and so they were members of the same family.
NARRATOR: Over the years, hundreds of strangely elongated human-like skulls have been found all over the world from Australia, where the skulls were estimated to be at least 10,000 years old, to the Ukraine, where they were found in catacombs that are known to date back at least 5,000 years.
Because throughout history various cultures have engaged in the ritual practice of artificially elongating the skulls of infants by tightly wrapping their heads, most members of both the scientific and academic communities have dismissed the skulls found in Peru as having been created by using the same method.
But Brien Foerster is one of a growing handful that does not agree.
According to his years of research, a number of the skulls on display at the Paracas museum exhibit other characteristics that cannot be explained by the native practice of head-binding.
What's controversial about the elongated skulls is that, in many cases, the cranial capacity is larger than a normal human.
And therefore, they would not simply be examples of cranial deformation, but possibly a separate subspecies of humanity, or more.
Now -Oh, wow, wow, wow.
At least 20, if not more, I would suggest here.
This is the main display case.
This is a normal-looking human skull from the Inca time period.
This was a farmer.
But then you see the variation in shapes.
You have ones which are horizontally elongated, like that one.
And then you have the classic vertical elongation.
And notice the size of the eye sockets.
the eye sockets are, in some cases, 50% larger than a normal human being.
Absolutely incredible.
You have two possibilities.
Are we humans made the change? Artificially, we pressed the head together, -the bones together.
Or we have to do, again, with extraterrestrials.
FOERSTER: Very unlikely that it's simple cranial deformation.
I think, genetically, this person may have been born with an elongated skull.
What can you explain me to this here? Well, I want you to go ahead and hold this.
Mamma mia! That's a classic Paracas elongated skull.
Yes, except for there is no fontanel.
I see nada.
The sagittal suture is missing.
Something is wrong here.
NARRATOR: Missing the sagittal suture? The fibrous tissue joint found on every human skull connecting the two large bones that protect the brain? But how could it be missing? FOERSTER: And so medical professionals are absolutely dumbfounded when they see it.
It doesn't fit in with a normal human skull.
NARRATOR: Eight years after Erich von Daniken wrote Chariots of the Gods?, author and researcher Zecharia Sitchin began publishing his Earth Chronicles book series, which also proposed that ancient aliens had a hand in the creation and development of humankind.
In There Were Giants Upon the Earth, Sitchin suggested that extraterrestrial DNA still exists in humans, and that the proof might be found by closely examining the ancient skull of a Sumerian queen who ruled sometime around 2500 BC and which is currently being stored at the Natural History Museum in London.
One of the greatest researchers of our time in the ancient astronaut theory, Zecharia Sitchin, who passed away in 2010, had one last wish, closing out his legacy of research, which was to test the remains of Queen Puabi.
Sitchin spent 50 years of research looking into Sumerian cuneiform, and putting forth the idea that the Anunnaki, these extraterrestrial gods, visited ancient Sumer.
And what's really interesting is that she was actually known as Nin-Puabi, with the "Nin" actually representing the term "goddess" in the Sumerian language.
So Zecharia Sitchin felt very strongly that if the Natural History Museum were to do genetic testing on Queen Puabi, that we would find that there are parts of her DNA that are extraterrestrial.
It's said that she had an elongated head, as many of the kings and queens and royalty of Sumeria had, as did the Anunnaki.
And some say that she had more teeth in her mouth than a normal human.
If they won't test these remains, you have to ask why.
Is there some secret encoded in that DNA that they don't want to hear? Might it be that the remains of Queen Puabi could prove for once and for all that ancient astronaut theory isn't theory after all? NARRATOR: Is it possible that proof of humanity's extraterrestrial origins actually exists? And if so, could it currently be sitting unexamined on a shelf in a London museum? Ancient astronaut theorists say yes, but believe equally compelling evidence can also be found, and on a much larger scale, hiding in plain sight.
NARRATOR: July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong plant an American flag on the Moon.
It is the commemoration of an historic moment, as two humans become the first alien visitors from Earth to land on another celestial body.
In his book Chariots of the Gods?, Erich von Daniken suggested that not only did extraterrestrial visitors from other planets come to Earth in the distant past, but that they, like the American astronauts, also commemorated their visits in the form of mysterious carvings and structures.
VON DANIKEN: These visitors did not plant a flag.
They have left proof, definitive proof.
COLLINS: All the way around the world we find ancient monuments that have some kind of relationship to the stars.
Whether they reflect the astronomical positions of a particular star group or they are aligned with precision towards the rising or setting of a star.
Now what does this mean? Is it possible that they are places of origins of cosmic beings? It's their flag.
"Yes, we were here.
" NARRATOR: In the decades since the publication of Chariots of the Gods?, ancient astronaut theorists have looked for other examples of alien architecture here on Earth.
One location of particular interest is the Giza Plateau in Egypt.
In the late 1980s, author and ancient Egyptian researcher Robert Bauval introduced his Orion correlation theory.
It suggested that the pyramids of Giza were built to align with the belt stars of Orion.
ROBERT BAUVAL: Orion's Belt is made up of three bright stars.
There's two bright stars and a third dimmer star, which is offset a bit to the left.
It's exactly what you see on the ground, two large pyramids in alignment with a third pyramid offset.
NARRATOR: Similar pyramid alignments to the belt stars of Orion were also discovered halfway around the world at the ancient Aztec pyramid complex of Teotihuacan, just outside of Mexico City.
The central road of Teotihuacan, the Avenue of the Dead, connects three massive pyramids.
Not only are these structures aligned with the three stars of Orion's belt, but the Avenue of the Dead, itself, points towards the Pleiades star cluster.
There was a tremendous amount of discussion about this, starting in the late '80s to the '90s.
And what it did was make us all start thinking about the surface of the Earth in relationship to the stars and other intelligences that would come here.
NARRATOR: A similar celestial alignment is seen on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where an ancient culture known as the Nuraghe built megalithic towers.
Santu Antine is one of the largest Neolithic sites on Sardinia.
What's very interesting about it is that, when we look at it, along with the seven other structures, it is patterned after the star cluster the Pleiades.
What does this tell us? Well, it tells us that it's possible that the inhabitants of Sardinia were actually in contact with beings from the Pleiades, and that they created this incredible Neolithic structure to commemorate, perhaps, a visitation, or perhaps a desire to travel to the Pleiades.
The fact that so many of these structures do align to the Pleiades is perhaps a clue that the Pleiades are hugely important.
Hermes Trismegistus, who is the Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth, said that "Egypt is the mirror of the heavens.
" And, based on that, ancient Egyptians had this belief that the earthly Nile was a mirror of the heavenly Nile, the Milky Way.
The ancient Egyptians placed their pyramids in specific places so that they could ultimately unite ancient Egypt with the stars.
All of these alignments are so precise and align with the Milky Way as it would have been seen in the night sky around 11000 BC.
What you can do with astronomical programs is to sort of rewind the clock.
You can look back and say, okay, when was there a time when there was a star in this exact position and all the other pyramids also align with different stellar configurations? And what that would mean is that ancient Egyptian civilization went back far farther into the past than we believe today.
POPE: These structures are like "X marks the spot.
" What they say, perhaps, is "We were here.
" That's what civilizations do.
That's what people do.
When they visit something, they leave something.
NARRATOR: In recent years, a growing number of ancient astronaut theorists have suggested that not only did extraterrestrials influence our ancestors as to the precise positioning of important structures, but they did so in a way that was designed to tap into the Earth's natural energy.
There are various places around our planet that are said to be power places; places of vortex energy.
And they are all connected to this worldwide energy grid that surrounds our planet and that these places are areas where energy lines cross.
It might be that extraterrestrials are also tapping into this worldwide energy grid.
NARRATOR: Curiously, at many mysterious sites worldwide, researchers have noted yet another peculiar connection.
Many early depictions of the so-called "gods" have been immortalized carrying what appears to be a type of handbag.
CHILDRESS: These mysterious handbags are held by the Sumerian gods.
We find it in Mexico with the Olmecs.
We find it in Mongolia, as well.
We find it in Colombia.
It may be some type of misunderstood technology.
Perhaps it was some type of a tool bag, or some type of, maybe, a breathing apparatus for extraterrestrials, because it doesn't look like a fashion item.
It looks more like a transmitter, an old cell phone, a computer.
If you look at our astronauts as they're walking from the launch tower into the spacecraft, they carry a suitcase system.
That's their temporary life-support system.
It's very possible that this is something similar.
NARRATOR: Ancient astronaut theorists have also noted that there appears to be a common narrative thread amongst the cultures where the depictions are present.
As we begin to trace this handbag symbol, we see that it appears at Gobekli Tepe, where there is this sudden spike in civilization.
It reappears in Sumeria, where we suddenly have this infusion of knowledge.
Same thing virtually every place this handbag appears, we find this sudden spike, or infusion, of new knowledge.
There are tales in ancient Mesopotamia of a figure thought of as the bringer of civilization, sometimes called Adapa, or Dagan, or Oannes, sometimes described as fish-tailed or bird-headed, and this character is carrying a bag.
And in that bag, all of the learning, all of the sciences, all of the imagination that humanity will ever need.
There's a theory that they had the ability to levitate through energy that might have been given to us by a-an alien.
I mean, it's a science fiction concept, but we don't know for sure.
Although we know that the Aztecs and the Egyptians and the people that came before them did have some technology, we don't even know how much technology they might have had.
That's why von Daniken's theory is possible.
NARRATOR: Is Erich von Daniken, and those that have followed him, simply inspired by individual curiosity, or is there some other, even more profound, reason why ancient astronaut theory has become more popular and more widely accepted than ever? Perhaps the answer can be found by returning to one of the places von Daniken first visited more than 50 years ago.
February 2018.
50 years after the publication of his first book, Chariots of the Gods?, Erich von Daniken returns to one of the sites that helped inspire him, the mysterious Nazca plateau.
Joining him is ancient astronaut researcher Brien Foerster.
So this is the first time you're flying from Ica? I was here, but I was flying over Nazca, I think, at least 50 times.
FOERSTER: There's always more to see every time you fly over.
It's very, very impressive.
FOERSTER: It was Erich von Daniken, with his book Chariots of the Gods?, who exposed the Nazca lines and figures to the world.
And to actually fly over Nazca with him is something I will never forget.
NARRATOR: Erich and Brien's flight path takes them over the lesser-known area called Palpa, which is situated between the cities of Paracas and Nazca.
There they will investigate evidence of a new discovery.
FOERSTER: There are at least a thousand geoglyphs in this area.
And very few people fly over Palpa, which is a-a shame, because we can see figure after figure now here.
Yeah, Palpa has a lot of very bizarre designs.
Almost, uh, anthropomorphic.
Crosses between a human and an insect.
We're basically in the middle of nowhere, more or less.
This is complete desert.
So why so many lines and geoglyphs in such an obscure location? VON DANIKEN: Look.
One of the long lines crossing -over the hills over there.
-Oh, yeah.
-Which is another mystery here.
-It is.
NARRATOR: According to mainstream archaeologists, the ancient Nazca culture created these mysterious lines between the first and eighth century AD, although no one knows exactly why they were created.
It is also believed that the images, which cover an area of over 170 square miles, were produced by manually scraping away the top layer of reddish iron-rich soil in order to create designs out of the lighter, yellowish ground underneath.
VON DANIKEN: By the way, I hear from a local the pilot here, the longest of the small lines goes over 23 kilometers straight ahead, over hills, mountains, and then crossing the desert.
FOERSTER: I'm seeing a lot more today than I've ever seen before.
Here are at least 20 lines under me.
Really fantastic.
NARRATOR: As their flight enters into the Nazca city limits, they are greeted by what Erich regards as a friendly and familiar figure.
There he is.
VON DANIKEN: They call this figure El Astronauta, -the Astronaut.
VON DANIKEN: It looks like an astronaut, -like a helmet on, et cetera.
It must come to the world that this is a mystery made for flying machines, made for so-called gods who fly.
The natives want to give them sign.
"Hey, look at us.
Come down.
"Make a stop over here.
"We are here.
We are waiting for you.
We have offerings for you.
We have food for you.
" I am absolutely convinced.
I have no doubt.
I know too much about it.
There were extraterrestrials on this planet some thousands of years ago.
NARRATOR: In the 50 years since the publication of Chariots of the Gods?, many other large-scale earth markings have been found to exist throughout the planet, including recent discoveries across Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and the Ural Mountains in Russia.
In 2011, archaeologist Sarah Parcak announced that she had located 17 potentially unknown pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and some 3,000 ancient human settlements buried under the sands of Egypt.
She was able to accomplish this unprecedented feat by utilizing a revolutionary new tool known as space archaeology.
TSOUKALOS: She found 3,000 structures just by looking at satellite imagery.
That is extraordinary, something that, ten or 20 years ago, was absolute science fiction.
NARRATOR: The use of infrared satellite technology is also revolutionizing the world of ancient astronaut exploration.
Cairo has the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Luxor has all these ancient Egyptian temples and tombs.
But what you don't know is that more than 90% percent is still hidden under the sands of Egypt.
Archaeology has probably only uncovered around ten percent, maybe even less, of the ruins and evidence of past civilizations.
And it may well be the case that in some of these ruins may be the evidence that we require to show that extraterrestrials visited the Earth back at that time.
NARRATOR: In 2015, NASA scientists working on the International Space Station released photos of a group of more than 200 giant circles, lines and rings formed by dirt mounds in the Turgai area of Northern Kazakhstan that are believed to date back to 6000 BC.
TSOUKALOS: When you're on the ground in Kazakhstan, all you see is a couple of dots.
But up in the sky and the higher you go you can see the full extent of everything.
But the fact that they can only be appreciated from a high distance, up in the air, illustrates to me that perhaps our ancestors tried to communicate with someone up there.
With the advent of new technology, especially in correlation with space archaeology or satellite technology that now allows us to look underneath the sand, I can't even imagine what else there will be that we will discover.
FOX: Science is always evolving and changing, just like any other practice, just like archaeology.
Once upon a time, if you got in your little rowboat and rowed far enough, you were gonna go off the edge of the Earth.
That wasn't real.
That wasn't true.
Let's cut to 200 years in the future and see what we understand at that point.
I just don't think you can ever say the science is settled.
SHATNER: I'm of the opinion that all scientific theory is in the midst of big changes.
We're walking around with certain theses in mind.
And, yes, if you drop an apple, it falls to the ground.
We don't understand gravity.
Dark matter and dark energy.
The mystery of the theory of black holes.
We don't understand it.
People who look through telescopes, people who look through microscopes we're all making it up as we go along.
Nobody knows for sure.
NARRATOR: In recent years, breakthroughs in archaeology and genetic research have made the questions first raised in Chariots of the Gods? seem less audacious and closer to being answered.
And joining Erich von Daniken is a growing army of like-minded individuals not only comprised of ancient astronaut theorists but scientists, world leaders, scholars and billionaire entrepreneurs.
More and more, the door that Erich von Daniken opened 50 years ago has opened much wider than the Swiss author ever could have imagined.
NARRATOR: Pasadena, California.
June 17, 2018.
Thousands gather at the Pasadena Convention Center for AlienCon, a three-day convention to explore the mysteries of ancient civilization, extraterrestrial existence, and the unexplained phenomena of our universe.
I am about to introduce you to a man that, in 1968, published a book by the name of Chariots of the Gods? The legend, Erich von Daniken.
(cheering) NARRATOR: Erich von Daniken takes the stage before an audience of 3,500 people, men and women who are convinced that mankind's past and its future is more extraordinary and more hopeful than they had been led to believe by mainstream science.
MAN: I would like to say that, over the course of history on Planet Earth, we've seen great men.
Moses being one of those, Abraham Lincoln being another.
I'd like to honor you in that same group of men.
-(Chuckles) -(cheering and applause) VON DANIKEN: Thank you very much.
That's very kind of you.
It all started because of religious doubts.
That was the-the power in me, to find out what is God.
By the way, I still am a deep believer in God.
So, simply, I had doubts in my own religion.
In the meantime, I'm 83 years old.
-The gods love me.
(Chuckles) -(chuckles) (laughter) Since 1968 it's been 50 years how has the reception of the ancient astronaut theory, in your opinion, changed over 50 years? It was an immediate best seller in Germany and in Switzerland.
Then it was sold to the United States.
It was a best seller here.
And soon as it was a best seller, I was, of course, attacked.
I was crushed down practically by every scientific community, by every scientist, by newspapers.
They all thought, "This is nonsense, what this young Swiss fellow is writing.
This is garbage.
" So I was attacked.
And I'm not the one who gives up.
So I started to fight and fight and fight.
So, in total, I have written 41 titles.
Roughly 76 million copies in 32 languages.
Not bad.
TSOUKALOS: In the 50 years since Chariots, what do you think are some of the best pieces of evidence that have come forward that have that you did not cover in Chariots? Well, of course, all these years, always new material has come.
And we know so much more about the Great Pyramid.
We detected rooms, shafts, corridors, things inside which I never knew in 1966 when I made Chariots of the Gods? Now the sequel of Chariots of the Gods? is already on the market, and there is, of course, material in there which you have never seen and you would not believe on this planet.
(cheering) NARRATOR: For Erich von Daniken, the reception he received at AlienCon was both overwhelming and gratifying.
But equally gratifying is the fact that since Chariots of the Gods? was first published in 1968, a growing number of ancient astronaut theorists and researchers have joined him in his life's mission, that of opening the mind of the world to the very real likelihood that aliens exist and have been visiting the Earth for thousands of years.
Erich, did you ever imagine this? -No, I did not.
-(laughter) We've seen a fundamental change in the way that this subject has been handled.
And we're right on I think we're right on the cusp of something important here.
Most people do not realize, from a biblical point of view, how valid many of his opinions really are.
And I believe it's very important.
It's validating for me that I've been given this opportunity, that I can share these things from the authentic sources.
TAYLOR: A friend of mine that works for NASA asked me several times, "How can you go and do these UFO things that you do?" And so on, and I-I tell him as a scientist, if you close yourself off to only looking under the streetlamp for your keys, you're never gonna find your damn keys.
(laughter) We should learn to become humble.
We are wonderful humans, intelligent beings, but there are fantastic other beings out there.
This will be the new science.
The new world.
-(cheering) -Thank you.
NARRATOR Antalya, Turkey.
Officials at Akdeniz University announce they have added a new curriculum to their program.
Entitled "Ufology and Exopolitics," it is designed to focus on the search for extraterrestrial life and galactic diplomacy.
At the University of Edinburgh's U.
Centre for Astrobiology, a course designed to teach students how to search for aliens will include an introduction to astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial life.
And at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, is a course that examines ancient astronaut theory to see if it can help explain the missing chapters in mankind's history.
There are college courses today being taught in exopolitics.
It's supposed to be the new frontier of diplomacy.
There's a whole generation of young people now growing up not with the question "Is there life out there?" but with the kind of issue of "What do we do when it gets here?" HENRY: It's tremendously exciting that universities around the world, we're starting to see courses taught on ancient astronaut theory.
There's a demand for it.
The students want to know more, they want to discuss it, they want to debate it, they want to be part of the revolution.
Just in the past ten years, we've seen this generation, new generation of ancient astronaut theorists come along.
They're bringing fresh insight, they're bringing new facts that were previously unavailable.
And what that's gonna do is just ultimately open up the imagination of humanity, and ultimately help us to recover answers to those vital questions: "Who are we?" "Where did we come from?" And "Where do we go from here?" NARRATOR: Today, more than 50 years after the publication of Chariots of the Gods?, the questions posed by Erich von Daniken are being asked by a growing number of people people who are more eager and more ready to receive the answers than ever before.
At no time has there ever been such a big wave of people believing in alien life, that extraterrestrials could've come here in the past, that we're not alone, that we're being visited and have been visited in the past.
And so it's a time of change right now.
And in many ways, the ancient astronaut theory is leading this change.
HENRY: In the past 50 years, we've undergone a global cultural paradigm shift.
50 years ago, if you were talking about extraterrestrials, other dimensions, travel by stargates, people would have thought you were crazy or something.
But now, this idea is everywhere in our culture.
It's in our media.
Huge numbers of people around the world, both spiritual and nonspiritual people, are beginning to accept the idea that we are definitely not alone.
TSOUKALOS: Erich von Daniken, for the past 50 years, has suggested that if we don't familiarize ourselves with the possibility of extraterrestrial life, if and when they show up, mankind will have what he refers to as a shock of the gods.
So I think it's very beneficial for people to start embracing the idea of extraterrestrials.
YOUNG: This is a huge movement.
Chariots of the Gods? is a mythology for our time.
There are certain themes of visitation from a celestial location that happen throughout world mythology and religion, and it is there, it's there in a slightly new way that speaks to our age, and the response is nothing short of religious.
The people are longing for something extraordinary, and Erich von Daniken has given it to them.
I do think that the human collective consciousness is shifting.
And people are more open to accepting some of these ideas.
We've had people that have worked at NASA go on the record as saying that of course they believe extraterrestrial life exists.
"How could it not?" We've even had people at NASA say "How could there not be" some sort of an architect to all of this?" "How could this be random?" If we were to really have proof of aliens, it changes everything that we've ever been taught, and there's something scary about that, but there's also something infinitely exciting about that.
SHATNER: The billions of galaxies that exist in the universe, mathematically, there has to be life everywhere.
Fervent, passionate life everywhere.
In my mind, there's no question that aliens exist.
(cheering) NARRATOR: For Erich von Daniken and the millions of people he has inspired, the notion of whether or not extraterrestrials came to Earth in the distant past is a question they can easily answer.
For them, the proof is everywhere: in ancient architecture, on the walls of caves, on stone blocks and even in human DNA.
But the questions that are harder to answer have to do with mankind's future.
What next? Where do we go from here? And are we on the verge of uncovering the ultimate proof, by finally coming face-to-face with our alien ancestors? The theory of ancient astronauts will not use 50 years to be proven.
Within the next ten years, we will have contact with extraterrestrials, and we will ask them "Were you or your forefathers here on our planet?" and they will tell us, "Of course.
" We definitely have our destiny to return to the stars.

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