Reports of UFO sightings come from all corners of the globe.
“I was taken onboard a ufo in the Mojave Desert and given I saw two great big, really 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.
GIORGIO TSOUKALOS: In India, Israel.
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?
Roswell, New Mexico.
This sleepy town in America’s Southwest was once best known for its large military airbase. But that changed in 1947 when a local rancher reported that a spaceship crashed on his property.
Several weeks later, the U.S.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 weather 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. 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.
The 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.
Elongated skulls found in Peru
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 compelling 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.
ROBERT R.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?
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 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 of 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.
Mali, in northwest Africa
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0
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 (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.
NOTE: This article is an edited version of episode two, season one, of the TV Series Ancient Aliens. Our editors worked hard to correct out any mistakes, and arrange the context so that our readers can enjoy reading through the episodes, without having to watch them. I believe that when you read through these episodes, you can imagine (reconstruct) what the participants of the Series were trying to say in a much more efficient, a much richer way.