Pride comes before a fall. This seems to hold true, at least, for the explanations given in human myth and fiction for the collapse of all the civilizations that came before us: The urge to build a tower to reach heaven ended in the linguistic sundering and scattering of humankind; in some traditions, the gods became fearful of human prowess and initiative, and took pre-emptive measure to keep or species at bay, destroying their own creation by fire and flood. What more poignant ending than the destruction of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Númenor – his own version of Atlantis – as it is plunged into the sea by the Creator, who refashions the world in order to keep mortals from ever setting foot on the Undying Lands?
There was a time when students of history freely discussed “antediluvian” civilizations, or even “Pre-Adamic” ones. A Mexican textbook from the 1960s (Historia de Mexico: Etapas Precortesiana y Colonial) speaks freely of “Atlantis” as one of the serious theories concerning the arrival of humans to the Americas, stating the following on page 14: “ATLANTIS – Lovely and ancient in literature is the belief that men in the New World came from the Old One across a continent that stretched out in the Atlantic Ocean, and which was called Atlantis, according to the vague reports given to us by the philosopher Plato in the dialogues “Critias” and “Timaeus”. Atlantis served as a footbridge between both worlds, until it was destroyed by a cataclysm. Its remnants can be seen in the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde, as well as the Antilles.”
We may well think the authors of the textbook irresponsible for placing the seed of pseudoscience into the minds of impressionable young students, but…might they have been closer to the mark that we care to admit? In May 2001, a series of underwater probes of the Caribbean Sea revealed to an astonished world the existence of what many considered to be the ruins of a sunken civilization at a depth of six hundred meters off Cuba’s Cape San Antonio. Covering an area of nearly twenty square kilometers of seabed, the city – dubbed “Mega” due to its size –consists of cube-shaped and pyramidal structures. Cuban geologist Manuel Iturralde believes that the ruins indeed belong to an antediluvian civilization, dating back to the 10th millennium B.C.E.
The extensive Cuban cave systems are also a source of wonder, such as Cave Number 1 on Youth Island (formerly Island of Pines). The cave dome, measuring some 25 meters in diameter (81 feet), has skylights that allow for illumination from the blazing Caribbean sun during the day and the moon by night. The complexity of its pictograms places them at the very apex of cave art, leading some to think of wiring diagrams. “Seen as a whole, the Central Motif (the main pictogram) suggests to the viewer the image of a star map, a representation of constellations, but it could also mean something completely different,” according to the antrhopologist Núñez Jiménez, writing in 1986. A possible star map on the domed ceiling of an ancient cave is enough to fuel more speculative television broadcasts about ancient astronauts…
Youth Island is relatively close to Cuba’s Guanacahibibes area, where sunken, dreaming Mega awaits further exploration. Could there be any connection between one and the other? Videotaped images of the undersea ruins were analyzed by the Centro de Arqueología Marina y Antropología de la Academia Cubana de Ciencias (Center for Marine Archaeology and Anthropology of the Cuban Academy of Sciences), which officially stated that “there was no simple and straightforward explanation for these structures,” yet unequivocally ascertaining they were man-made, rather than a natural phenomenon.
The Resurgence of Paleoufology
The branch of UFO research which could rightly deserve the appellation of “paleoufology” constituted a controversial field of investigation during the 1970’s, when authors like Otto Binder (Unsolved Mysteries of the Past), Richard E. Mooney (Gods of Air and Darkness), and Erich Von Daniken (Chariots of the Gods?) wrote extensively on human/alien interaction at the dawn of recorded history and even earlier. Proof of the existence of “gods” or “ancient astronauts” could be found everywhere, and to judge by the conclusions found in the books of the time, it seemed that every major engineering project in antiquity had been “farmed out” to alien contractors! Paleoufology lost its appeal and languished in obscurity until the works of Zechariah Sitchin thrust it once again into prominence in the early 1990s, gaining further momentum with theAncient Aliens television program on the History Channel in the ‘00s. Clearly, there is still a great deal to learn about this aspect of the phenomenon.
Guatemalan researcher Oscar Rafael Padilla, an attorney and Ph.D who has dedicated 30 of his 51 years to the research of the UFO phenomenon is also the compiler of an extraordinary taxonomy of extraterrestrial creatures, composed by taking into consideration such characteristics as the existence–or lack of–hair, eye type, body shape and similarities to the human body, among others. One of the species portrayed in Clasificación Exobiológica de Entidades Extraterrestres (Exobiological Classification of Extraterrestrial Entities), is characterized by its large head and eyes in relation to the thinness of its body. The being has been classified as belonging to the family Homidia (due to its resemblance to humans), orderPrimates (due to its walking on two extremities), subclass Euteria(since they are allegedly placental mammals). Padilla also believes that this particular variety of non-human entity played a significant role in ancient times.
Dr. Padilla recalls a very curious stele that was on display in Guatemala’s Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology until its removal in 1990, when it was transferred to Japan for scientific study, according to his own research. The stele portrayed the figure of a being with enormous ears, three-fingered hands, elongated legs, no feet, and two strange filaments on its head which, in Padilla’s opinion, constitute “antennae”.
Scientists have dismissed Dr. Padilla’s allegedly alien as a colorful primitive depiction of an imaginary monster–very much like our own science-fiction beasts–and left the matter at that. But there is growing evidence throughout South America that ancient artisans depicted certain things we now know to be fact much too clearly.
Brazilian UFO researcher Jean Alencar has noted that the mythology of this country is replete with descriptions and statuettes of beings endowed with the power of flight. The legends of Brazilian natives, like those of other countries, detail experiences of gods or travelers from the sky who descended to earth when humans were little more that animals to instruct them in the arts of agriculture, astronomy, medicine, and other disciplines. Alencar points out one figure in particular, Bep-Kororoti, a space warrior worshipped by the tribes of the upper reaches of the Xingú River. Not unlike the heroes of India’sMahabharata, Bep-Kororoti possessed a flying vehicle capable of destroying anything in its path. His aspect terrified the primitive natives, until he stepped out of his “raiment” and revealed himself to be fair-skinned, handsome, and kind. He amused the natives with his “magic” until he grew restless for his land in the sky and returned there.
Pre-Humans and Non-Humans
The Sahara, a warm subtropical desert, occupies almost 3 million square miles. Its relative humidity can go as low as twenty percent and strong dry winds like the harmattan contribute to the evaporation. Such inhospitable conditions make survival an almost insuperable barrier for animals such as gazelles, antelope, jackals and the varieties of reptiles and insects that can be found there.
Yet humans have tenaciously clung to life in this environment, and appear to have done so far back in history when the climate wasn’t so harsh. These human cultures, now lost to us, nonetheless left behind a number of beautiful and disturbing drawings that have created controversy since their discovery.
Almost nine thousand years ago, one of these cultures flourished on Djebel Zenkekra in the Tassili-n-Ajjer Massif, a natural, fortress-shaped mountain formation that provided relief from the unforgiving desert sun during the day and shelter against the animals that roamed the Neolithic swamps which would later turn to desert.
The Tassili Culture, for want of a better name, bequeathed to posterity a collection of 4000 images, painted in a variety of colors unavailable to their counterparts in the Altamira and Lascaux Caves: using flints for brushes, dark reds, yellows, and even shades of green supplemented the basic reds and whites available to the prehistoric cave artists. Everyday life was their subject matter–the endless cycle of hunting, battle, and domestic life was captured in stone, along with a gallery of figures which stand out in stark contrast to humans in their workaday poses. While there are many such examples of cave art in other rock shelters and ledges throughout the upper reaches of the Sahara, the ones on Djebel Zenkekra hold a special fascination.
Discovered by the 19th century French explorer Henri Lhote, these figures were so unusual he dubbed them “Martians,” explaining “their contour is simple, inartistic, and with rounded heads; their only detail is the double oval at the figure’s centre, which evokes the image we currently have of Martians.”
Lhote’s round-headed denizens of the Red Planet were depicted by the primitive cave artists as wearing suits strongly reminiscent of those worn by our own astronauts on the Moon, down to the detail of the boots. Several hundred such drawings exist, scattered over many miles of desert: strange helmeted and antennaed figures, often floating in weightlessness as if the artist had been able to witness one of our modern spacewalks. Other images are of a technological bent, showing what could be taken as solar panels, space stations, floating spheres containing humanoid figures.
Unwilling to be caught up in the ancient astronaut craze, anthropologists have suggested that the Tassili “roundheads” are merely ceremonial dancers or priests wearing empty gourds over their heads. The problem with this rational approach is that the agricultural know-how and resources to grow pumpkins were nonexistent in North Africa at the time the Tassili drawings were created, and would probably not have been available for another thousand years.
Could extraterrestrial visitors included the then-lush Tassili region among their forays in ancient human history? Dozens of books in an equal number of languages have provided circumstantial evidence of non-human intervention in earthly affairs. Biblical texts speak of the “sons of God” attracted by the “daughters of Men,” Mayan bas-reliefs depict what could be a space traveler, and so forth. But it is this forsaken complex of African drawings that provides a graphic illustration a similar nature.
In 1976, Spanish researchers Jorge Blaschke, Rafael Brancas and Julio Martínez reached the Tassili Massif to conduct a systematic study of the enigmatic cave drawings. In the course of their research, they were stunned to find a clear depiction of a helmeted and suited figure, linked by a tether to the interior of a large, spherical object, leading three human females toward it. Dr. Martínez noticed that the artist had taken great care in showing the women: one of them an adolescent, the other a mother carrying a child, and the third a visibly pregnant woman. Could this be representative of the genetic experiments which are allegedly still being conducted in our days by large-headed Greys.
The examples of cave art found in the Spanish caverns of Ojo Guareña and Altamira, and the French ones at Lascaux and Font de Gaume, have proven that our distant ancestors were able to represent what they saw with a clarity and simplicity that is stunning to twentieth century eyes. This skill extends to depictions of things that anthropologists and archaeologists often find troublesome: equally faithful representations of domed objects, some of them in threes, others with legs or antennae.
The small French village of Le Cabrerets lies next to the impressive Pech Merle Cavern–a colossal labyrinthine complex almost a mile long. Using a red pigment, Cro-Magnon artists depicted on one of its walls a being that would fall perfectly into Dr. Padilla’s taxonomy: it has an enormous bald head, an unusually pointed chin, no ears, and its eyes are represented as elongated slits which taper toward its temples. The straight lines crossing the figure appear to indicate that it was wounded or slain by caveman spears, while a drawing of a hat-shaped object appears floating over the creature’s head. Nor is Pech Merle an oddity: Twenty miles away, another cave, Cougnac, contains a similar representation of a wounded or slain creature. Lest we think that Cro-Magnon artists lacked a flair for depicting the human form, it should be noted that other French caves, such as Rouffignac, contain clearly recognizable human figures, including what seem to be mask-wearing humans. The Pech Merle and Cougnac “dead men” are clearly something else. Archaeologists tell us that these ancient images were drawn at the beginning of the Magdalenian Period–some twenty thousand years ago.
North America has also provided its share of enigmatic prehistoric drawings. A particularly impressive one can be found at Canyonlands National Park, in Utah. There, a duo of unusual creatures (remarkably similar to those depicted at Tassili) is engaged in strange activity: one of them appears to be pointing an item at the ground–a flashlight? Farther south, an artist of Mexico’s Tlatilco culture drew a perfect image of a little man who gives the impression of wearing boots and a square helmet.
When even steadfast UFO naysayers like Carl Sagan are willing to concede that alien visitations in the remote past cannot be dismissed out of hand, can we still believe that this evidence, which is there for anyone to see, is simply a misinterpretation of conventional events, seen from a primitive human perspective? Or can we lend credence to the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian stories of divine beings coming down to earth to teach humans the rudiments of civilization?
I love the Ancient Alien Theory, even though it’s heavily anthropomorphic and modern mythic.
I’m not saying it’s not possible however; there could have been nearby interstellar cultures who came by and spread their own culture among primitive hominids in order to preserve it, just as we intend.
But I think in the end, it becomes economically unviable to maintain interstellar colonies without going through a technological singularity and creating a more viable Universe in which to enter into without traveling Einsteinian space extensively and uneconomically.
Hat tip to The Anomalist.