did-aliens-really-build-the-pyramids?
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Did Aliens Really Build the Pyramids?

Ancient mysteries
The ancient mystery of who moved the gigantic stones of Stonehenge. Sunset inside the stone circle. Credit: Simon Banton Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The ancient mysteries such as who built the pyramids and other massive structures have gained numerous followers in the age of social media where pseudoscientific explanations proliferate.

Through elaborately created videos posted on YouTube, theories about aliens visiting the Earth lending a hand (or tentacle) to the Egyptian laborers to lift the impossible-to-lift stone blocks or drawing with laser beams the Nasca lines from their spaceships are fun ideas for one to entertain. And, why not, believe?

Many of us, young and old, willingly suspend our disbelief to watch for two hours Spiderman saving New York from the evil Mysterio, or Godzilla in a bad mood destroying Tokyo. Why not do the same when we see a sculpture of a Sumerian figure holding a modern (and fashionable) ladies’ handbag and listen to the video narrator telling us there is a sophisticated tablet inside the bag that navigates spaceships beyond Orion?

In addition, the scientific explanations of the construction of such ancient mysterious monuments in several cases appear equally far-fetched as the ancient astronaut theories, as if the researcher is determined to present a scientific theory by any means necessary.

There is the argument that ancient astronaut theorists propose that has a certain logical appeal: In an infinite universe with countless planets, how likely is it that Earth is the only planet where life exists and no other planet is habitable by non-human life forms? And isn’t it arrogant to believe that humans are the only intelligent beings in the universe? Or that we can colonize Mars but Martians don’t exist, so they would never beam down to Earth?

Whatever the case, such theories, which are roundly dismissed by professional historians and archaeologists, speak to a certain sense of wonder that the ancient past inspires. Until scientifically sound explanations for these ancient “mysteries” are established, various fantastical theories are likely to remain popular, especially in online spaces.

Ancient mysteries
The ancient mystery of building the Great Pyramid of Giza. Credit: Jorge Láscar Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

The Giza Pyramids

Elon Musk is known for his extravagant ideas and imaginative postulations. One of them is that aliens helped build the pyramids. Egypt rushed to reply by inviting the eccentric billionaire to see for himself that the pyramids were built by human hands.

Perhaps the awe-inspiring pyramids will forever remain an ancient mystery. Modern Egypt can bask in its glorious past and claim that its ingenious ancestors built the pyramids using thousands of citizens with brawny arms, smart machines, and a collective attitude.

And what about the three pyramids’ alignment with the stars in Orion’s belt? Proponents of the “ancient aliens” theory would have us believe that the ancient Egyptians were in cahoots with extraterrestrials who were frequently traveling to their planet in the Orion belt.

Ancient mysteries
The ancient mystery of the Nazca lines and images in Peru. Credit: nikola_pu Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Nazca Lines

The Nazca lines, the perplexing giant lines and geoglyphs in a dry plateau in Peru, 250 miles (400 km) from Lima, continue to fascinate scientists and laymen. Created by the Nazca culture (200 BC-600 AD) that believed in the gods of agriculture and fertility, still fascinates researchers.

There are more than 800 long straight, white lines etched in the hard sand, some are 30 miles long (48 km). There are also over 300 basic geometric designs such as triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids, along with spirals, wavy lines, and arrows. Most important are the representations of about 70 animals and plants, such as a monkey, a hummingbird, and others, some of which measure up to 1,200 feet (370 meters) long.

The largest shapes stretch up to 1,200 feet and can only be seen whole from up in the air. Scientists estimate that the mysterious ancient drawings could be about 2,000 years old. The assumption is that the huge designs would be impossible to draw with such precision while standing on the ground. They could only be drawn from up in the air. But how?

Another assumption is that the makers of the designs removed the top rust-colored rocks, exposing the white sand underneath. But how to explain the length and the precision? And more importantly, what was their purpose?

Ancient mysteries
The ancient mystery of who moved the massive stones from hundreds of miles away and built Stonehenge. Credit: Rachelle Haun Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Who moved the Stonehenge rocks?

Again, the issue of moving rocks that weigh several tons each before the age of cranes. Some of them are about 50 tons heavy to be precise. All coming from a quarry hundreds of miles away. Placed forming a circle for reasons unknown, but open to wild speculation. Were ancient people strong like Hercules? Or did they get any help from green men above?

Stonehenge is an ancient mystery that has fascinated people for centuries. Swiss author Erich von Däniken, who spent most of his life studying and writing theories about such unexplained phenomena, suggested that the circle of stones near Salisbury was a model of the solar system that also functioned as an alien landing pad. A wild theory that contradicts itself, but definitely an entertaining one. Aliens with superior brains would have built something more tidy and less cumbersome to land their advanced vehicles.

Nevertheless, Stonehenge is a sophisticated construction with the stones aligning with solstices and eclipses.

Ancient mysteries
The ancient mystery of the Easter Island statues. Ahu Akivi are the only Moai that face the ocean. Credit: Ian Sewell Wikimedia commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The statues of Easter Island

If aliens landed on Earth and didn’t want to bother with annoying humans, Easter Island was the ideal place for privacy and room to express themselves. The same applies to human sculptors who could work on their art uninterrupted by petty human activities.

Ideally hidden in the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania, Easter Island is the perfect location for an ancient mystery that will likely remain as such. Rapa Nui, as is its other name because of the tribe that inhabits the island, officially belongs to Chile. It is not known exactly when people first landed on the island and its population was created. Older estimates range from 300 to 800, but more recent ones based on radiocarbon dates indicate 1200.

However, the real mystery of this isolated part of the World is who made the 900 or so monolithic anthropomorphic stone statues, the Moai. It is said they were carved by the Rapa Nui between 1250 and 1500 to depict their ancestors. Such zeal is hard to explain, taking into consideration the scant resources of Easter Island. As for the faces of their ancestors, the sculptures seem expressionistic. Also, by law, visitors would have to pay a hefty fine if they touch them.

Ancient mysteries
The ancient mystery of the lost city of Atlantis. A myth or a true city destroyed by natural phenomena? Painting by Georgie Grie Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The sunken city of Atlantis

The story of the sunken city of Atlantis and its magnificent civilization is an ancient mystery that teeters between the real and the imaginary. Its location has been described as being in the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, and even in Japan, depending on the claim and the site where sunken ruins of a large ancient city have been found.

Most likely its ruins can be found deep in the Mediterranean and close to the Aegean Sea, due to the advanced Minoan civilization. It was first described by the Greek philosopher  Plato in 360 BC as the island of Atlas, a place with magnificent civilization and great naval power, before sinking into the sea 10,000 years ago after a catastrophic event.

Archaeologists debate the actual historical existence of Atlantis. Historians who have studied Plato claim that Atlantis was invented by Plato as a metaphor for his ideal state, how he wanted Athens to be, and also to honor his ancestors.

Historically speaking, the decimation of the islands of Crete and Thera (modern-day Santorini) by a tremendous volcanic eruption in around 1450 BC may have constituted the myth of the magnificent “Lost Continent” that was Atlantis that continues to engage the popular imagination.

These ancient mysteries and several others will continue to fuel the imagination for the decades to come, and more. The continuation of a mystery is more fascinating than its explanation. Mysteries help us expand our horizons, engage the mind, and make us want to learn more about the world, even if the world includes little green men with odd-shaped heads. The more difficult a puzzle, the more engaging it is.

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