|They don't know, therefore...|
|Xenu was here|
Ancient Aliens is a "documentary" series on the History Channel that premiered in April 2010. The History Channel also screened a two hour documentary of the same name in 2009. Unsurprisingly, given that it is a rehash of the earlier ancient astronauts "theory," Erich von Däniken appears frequently.
 Ancient Alien Theory
Re-branded as the Ancient Alien Theory, abusing the word theory in the process, von Däniken and Giorgio A. Tsoukalos set out to show how humanity achieved very little without the assistance of aliens. While it could be more accurately be described as the Ancient Alien Hypothesis, it could be even more accurately described as the Ancient Alien Ass-pull—given that even a hypothesis actually requires some evidence to back it. (The technical, and polite, term for the Ancient Aliens idea is conjecture.)
The History Channel describes the "theory" as such:
|According to ancient alien theorists, extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of science and engineering landed on Earth thousands of years ago, sharing their expertise with early civilizations and forever changing the course of human history. But how did this concept develop, and is there any evidence to support it?"|
Um, let's see—No!
There is a slow progression of technologies stretching back over much of human history and prehistory, none of which seems to have been "sparked" by some sudden influx of previously unknown technology or knowledge.
The process of toolmaking, for instance, has progressed from simply using available "found objects" to make obtaining food easier—throwing rocks, using wood as cudgels, through altering them crudely to make them more effective—flint knapping, sharpening relatively straight and strong bits of wood to the point of making spears, etc. The gradual discovery of metals and ways to work them into implements has no obvious "aliens landed and told us to dig iron ore and smelt it into high-grade steel" moment; each advance is marked by incremental progress.
We invented the wheel, probably many times, and continue to reinvent it at simple levels when needed. We captured fire, and eventually not only tamed it but learned to produce and control it.
We domesticated plants and animals, simple step by simple step, from basic seed-gathering and planting, through selective breeding for desirable traits, to the point where we now literally alter the genetic structure of living organisms for our convenience.
We slowly learned basic hygiene (God hates shrimp!) and healing arts, resulting in our eventual understanding of how diseases propagate and the ability to perform microsurgery to save or extend lives. No step shows any particular need for space aliens to move us ahead.
We developed means of written communication, from what were probably the work of braggers on cave walls, through simple pictographics, to abstract symbolic representation of spoken languages, enabling us to share more and more of what we have learned about our planet and our universe, more rapidly and more effectively with every improvement.
We went to the Moon without alien advice or intervention (despite all claims to the contrary).
 Episode guide
As the show recycles a lot of material already in circulation by various
nuts "researchers", it's no wonder that RationalWiki already covers some of the claims.
 Pilot and Season 1
- Ancient Aliens: Chariots, Gods & Beyond (March 2009) was the original stand-alone "TV special". It's considered the pilot episode of the series (number 0 in the official episode numbering).
- The Evidence (April 2010) was the first episode of the series proper.
- The Visitors (April 2010) among other things repeats the story about the Dogon people's alleged advanced astronomical knowledge about Sirius and claims that the Hopi's Kachina were aliens.
- The Mission (May 2010) tries to answer the pertinent question, "Why in FSM's name would aliens come to Earth?". Mentioned are the Anunnaki (shameless gold-diggers!), cattle mutilations (Earth offers the tastiest cow anus!), crop circles and crystal skulls.
- Closer Encounters (May 2010) interprets various historical texts as UFO sightings. Apparently, Christopher Columbus reported
lights in the skyalien spacecraft...
- The Return (May 2010) crosses from JAQing off about "paleocontact" into pure modern UFOnuttery about Roswell and the Battle of Los Angeles and speculations about what a modern contact would look like. The SETI project gets covered.
 Season 2
- Mysterious Places (October 2010) deals with various alleged UFO hotspots, such as the Bermuda triangle. Quick, someone alert X-COM! Scramble the Interceptors!
- Gods and Aliens (November 2010) repeats the staple claim that various legends about gods giving stuff to humans were inspired by alien visitations.
- Underwater Worlds (November 2010) deals with various "sunken cities", essentially recycling alleged evidence for the Atlantis/Lemuria/Mu mythos in the "ancient astronaut" context. By the way, this is a pattern that repeats in the AA literature: previous writings explaining various "mysteries" with Atlantis and ancient advanced civilizations get re-purposed as evidence for ancient contact with advanced aliens.
- Underground Aliens (November 2010) is another mash-up, with tales of various old subterranean places and myths of underground beings getting spliced with the Dulce base conspiracy theory. Base assaults are a pain in the ass, so it's understandable why X-COM are taking their time with that one...
- Aliens and the Third Reich (November 2010) claims that Nazi Germany reverse-engineered alien technology to create Nazi UFOs. The Second World War is definitely not ancient history, but again, the show airs on The Hitler Channel...
- Alien Tech (December 2010) deals with alleged descriptions of ancient uses of advanced technology, as well as the usual "humans couldn't have done X without outside help, therefore aliensdidit." Oh, and David Childress gets to describe in detail how the army of Alexander the Great was dive-bombed by flying saucers (which didn't happen - the story is a modern fabrication)
- Angels and Aliens (December 2010) is exactly what its title says: various accounts of angel apparitions are actually due to extraterrestrial visitations, not superstition and religious fanaticism.
- Unexplained Structures (December 2010) once again tries to explain various ancient archaeological sites with alien interference.
- Alien Devastations (December 2010) deals with disasters described in the Bible and other ancient texts, including the Biblical story of the Great Flood and Noah. As you can guess: aliensdidit.
- Alien Contacts (December 2010) claims that various mythical and historical figures, including Moses and Joan of Arc, were contactees. The Rendlesham Forest incident incident is thrown in for good measure, providing again a mash-up of speculative pseudo-history and modern UFO-nuttery.
 Season 3
Also known as the "Aliens and X" season.
- Aliens and the Old West (July 2011) shamelessly uses the Cowboys & Aliens movie as a intro to a mixed bag of "Old West" stories interpreted as evidence for alien visitation. Guys, one can get why you would think that Native American myths were relevant, but the 1800s are not "ancient" in any sensible meaning of the word.
- Aliens and Monsters (August 2011) in one sentence: every hybrid animal in every mythology ever is evidence for ancient alien genetic engineering. This is another old theme among AA advocates.
- Aliens and Sacred Places (August 2011) sets out to piss off most devout members of all three Abrahamic religions by claiming that the holy sites in Jerusalem and the Kaaba mark the places of alien visitation. The list includes also the Ajanta Caves[wp] in India, the monolithic rock-cut churches of Lalibela[wp] in Ethiopia and the temple in Baalbek in Lebanon, another persistent meme in ancient advanced civilizations/ancient aliens writings.
- Aliens and Temples of Gold (August 2011) claims that aliens apparently love gold even more than humans do (well, it doesn't say it directly, but...). In addition to the usual stuff about ancient gold-working civilizations, European alchemy, the philosopher's stone and the Holy Grail are thrown into the mix.
- Aliens and Mysterious Rituals (August 2011) returns to reinterpreting various religious practices and rituals as evidence for contact with aliens. Do not watch if you are an ethnographer, Native American sick of European-Americans talking shit about your culture, amateur or professional medievalist, devout Catholic or... pagan (Beltane[wp] will never be the same...)
- Aliens and Ancient Engineers (September 2011) plays the "humans couldn't have built that" riff yet again.
- Aliens, Plagues and Epidemics (September 2011) blames extraterrestrial pathogens for pretty much every major pandemic in recorded history, including the Medieval plague and the Spanish influenza epidemic during WWI. Turns into another crossover with modern woo, this time by mentioning Morgellons disease.
- Aliens and Lost Worlds (September 2011) claims that various ancient civilizations were ruled by aliens. Among the purported evidence are the statues on Easter Island, skull deformation and the Garden of Eden story.
- Aliens and Deadly Weapons (September 2011) turns up the "humans are dumb" vibe to 11. King Arthur's Excalibur? Alien power sword. Various other mythical weapons? a) Totally existed, b) were created by aliens. Greek fire? Gift by aliens. Chinese gunpowder? Aliens.
- Aliens and Evil Places (September 2011) is another attempt to shoehorn a grab-bag of "mysteries" into the ancient aliens "theory".
- Aliens and The Founding Fathers (October 2011) gives a new meaning to "American exceptionalism".
- Aliens and Deadly Cults (October 2011)
- Aliens and the Secret Code (October 2011)
- Aliens and the Undead (October 2011)
- Aliens, Gods and Heroes (November 2011)
- Aliens and the Creation of Man (November 2011)
 Season 4
By now, the standard talking points of AA advocates have been mostly exhausted, so the desperate scrambling for original material is producing increasingly silly results...
- The Mayan Conspiracy (February 2012)
- The Doomsday Prophecies (February 2012) jumps on the 2012 prophecy bandwagon. To be fair, AAers wrote shit about the Mesoamerican long count calendar before the current wave and may have been partially responsible for it.
- The Greys (February 2012) are those Greys, yes. Remind me, am I watching Ancient Aliens or the X-Files?
- Aliens and Mega-Disasters (March 2012)
- The NASA Connection (March 2012) is yet another attempt to shoehorn existing conspiracy theories into the AA narrative. And NASA was established in 1958, which is not ancient history. Even if you are a clueless teenager.
- The Mystery of Puma Punku (March 2012) returns to the classic approach to AA and focuses on an ancient megalithic ruin, Puma Punku in Bolivia. It would make sense to make similar episodes about the places covered in the previous seasons, but sense seems to be in short supply, as this was followed by...
- Aliens and Bigfoot (March 2012) is exactly what it sounds like, sprinkled with some AA classics about various mythical figures (Goliath, the Nephilim, Enkidu) being human-alien hybrids.
- The Da Vinci Conspiracy (April 2012) gets on Dan Brown's turf. Leonardo was a genius ahead of his time? He had contact with aliens!
- The Time Travelers (April 2012) is yet another exercise in "let's rip off another form of woo as evidence for ours", this time - the "time traveler hypothesis" in ufology, which claims that UFOs are time machines from Earth's future instead of alien spaceships.
- Aliens and Dinosaurs (May 2012) strays into YEC territory by speculating about human-dinosaur coexistence. Mentioned are the Angkor Wat dinosaur, the Ica stones and the Paluxy River tracks. Oh, and aliens wiped out the dinosaurs.
Among the talking heads that appear in the show as "experts" are:
- Mike Bara, coauthor of Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA with Richard Hoagland (either a symptom, or one the reasons why seasons 3 and 4 left the well-worn tracks of classic AA arguments)
- Robert Bauval, of Orion Correlation Theory fame
- Bill Birnes
- Philip Coppens
- Michael Cremo
- Steven Greer, of The Disclosure Project fame
- Graham Hancock
- Linda Howe, keeper of earthfiles.com
- David Icke
- George Noory, of "Coast to Coast AM" fame
- Nick Pope
- Nancy Red Star, an alleged Native American, author of Star Ancestors
- David Wilcock
 See also
- The genetic “proof” for ancient aliens, BlagHag, March 2012. A biologist's view on some of the genetics in the show. Also contains an Ancient Aliens drinking game that will probably give you alcohol poisoning if practiced as suggested.