Chariots of the Gods?

Last updated on 23 October 2017

Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past (German: Erinnerungen an die Zukunft: Ungelöste Rätsel der Vergangenheit; in English, Memories of the Future: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past) is a book authored in 1968 by Erich von Däniken. It involves the hypothesis that the technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by ancient astronauts who were welcomed as gods.

The first draft of the publication had been rejected by a variety of publishers. The book was extensively rewritten by its editor, Wilhelm Roggersdorf (a pen name of the German screenwriter Wilhelm "Utz" Utermann). Utermann had been a Nazi bestselling author and had held a leading position with the Völkischer Beobachter.[1][2]

Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past
Chariots Of The Gods.jpg
Author Erich von Däniken
Original title Erinnerungen an die Zukunft: Ungelöste Rätsel der Vergangenheit
Country Germany
Language German
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Econ-Verlag (Germany), Putnam (USA)
Publication date
1968
Media type Print
Pages 267
Followed by The Eyes of the Sphinx

Summary

JomonStatue.JPG
Statue from the late Jōmon period (1000 - 400 BC) in Japan, interpreted by von Daniken as depicting an alien visitor.
Nazca-lineas-condor-c01.jpg
Von Däniken suggests that the Nazca lines (200 BC - AD 700) in Peru could be "landing strips" for alien spacecraft

Chariots of the Gods posits a variety of hypotheses dealing with the possibility of extraterrestrial beings influencing ancient technology. Von Däniken suggests that some ancient structures and artifacts appear to represent higher technological knowledge than is presumed to have existed at the times they were manufactured. Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were produced either by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from them.[1][3][4]

Such artifacts include the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, and the Moai of Easter Island.[5][6] Further examples include a medieval map known as the Piri Reis Map, which von Däniken describes as showing the Earth as it is seen from space,[7] and the Nazca lines in Peru, which he suggests may have been constructed by humans as crude replicas of previous alien structures, as a way to call the aliens back to Earth.[8][9][10] He uses this same explanation to argue that cart-ruts in Malta may have had extraterrestrial purposes along with similar lines in Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the Aral Sea.[8][11]

The book also suggests that ancient artwork throughout the world could be interpreted as depicting astronauts, air and space vehicles, extraterrestrials, and complex technology. Von Däniken describes elements that he believes are similar in art of unrelated cultures.[1][12][13] Some artwork that von Däniken cites include the ancient Japanese Dogū figurines (which he believed to resemble astronauts in space suits) and 3,000 year-old carvings in the Egyptian New Kingdom Temple that appear to depict helicopter-like machines.[7]

The book goes on to suggest that the origins of religions, including interpretations of the Old Testament of the Bible, are reactions to contact with an alien race. According to von Däniken, humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural and the aliens themselves to be gods. Von Däniken asks if the oral and literal traditions of most religions contain references to visitors from stars and vehicles traveling through air and space. These, he says, should be interpreted as literal descriptions which have changed during the passage of time and become more obscure.[1][2][3][14]

Examples include Ezekiel's vision of the angels and the wheels, which Von Däniken interprets as a description of a spacecraft, the Ark of the Covenant, which is explained as a communication device with an alien race, and the destruction of Sodom by fire and brimstone, which is interpreted as a nuclear explosion.[1][14][15][16] Von Däniken attempts to draw an analogy with the "cargo cults" that formed during and after World War II, when once-isolated tribes in the South Pacific mistook the advanced American and Japanese soldiers for gods.[2][12]

Von Däniken also spends around one-third of the book discussing the possibility that humans could theoretically offer primitive civilizations on interstellar worlds advanced technology by the year 2100. This would, he writes, mimic the ancient extraterrestrial contact von Däniken believed to have happened on Earth.[4][17]

Reception

Many scientists and historians have rejected his ideas, claiming that the book's conclusions were based on faulty, pseudoscientific evidence, some of which was later demonstrated to be fraudulent or fabricated, and under illogical premises. For example, Ronald Story wrote a book rebutting von Däniken's ideas in 1976 titled The Space Gods Revealed. A similar internationally bestselling book, titled Crash Go The Chariots by Clifford Wilson, appeared in 1972.

Soon after the publication of Chariots of the Gods?, von Däniken was accused of stealing the ideas of French author Robert Charroux.[18]

A 2004 article in Skeptic magazine[19] states that von Däniken plagiarized many of the book's concepts from The Morning of the Magicians, that this book in turn was heavily influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos, and that the core of the ancient astronaut theory originates in H. P. Lovecraft's short stories "The Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Mountains of Madness."

QtubIronPillar.JPG
The iron pillar of Delhi, erected by Chandragupta II the Great, which von Däniken claimed did not rust.

One artifact offered as evidence in the book has been disclaimed by von Däniken himself. Chariots asserts that a supposedly rust-free iron pillar in India was evidence of extraterrestrial influence, but von Däniken admitted in a Playboy interview that the pillar was man-made and that as far as supporting his theories goes "we can forget about this iron thing." Neither this nor any other discredited evidence has been removed from subsequent editions of Chariots of the Gods.[20][21]

One book commonly cited in support of von Däniken is The Spaceships of Ezekiel by former NASA design engineer Josef F. Blumrich (March 17, 1913 – February 10, 2002), who also wrote a summary article, "The Spaceships of the Prophet Ezekiel.".[22]

Chariots of the Gods was on The New York Times bestseller list and have helped launched Daniken's career as a public speaker. Daniken has now sold 70 million copies of his books as of January 2017.[23][6][24]

Adaptations

The book was adapted as a German documentary film, Chariots of the Gods, produced by Terra-Filmkunst. The film was released in 1970 in West Germany and first appeared in the United States the following year. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 43rd Academy Awards in 1971."[13][25] In 1972, an edited version of the film appeared as a TV documentary called In Search of Ancient Astronauts on NBC and was produced by Alan Landsburg Productions. The documentary was narrated by Rod Serling.[26]

A follow-up called In Search of Ancient Mysteries aired the following year and was also narrated by Rod Serling.[27][28] A different TV documentary, The Case of the Ancient Aliens directed by Graham Massey, was released in 1977 and is based on von Däniken's work.[29][30]

In 1993, von Däniken produced a 25-part series entitled Auf den Spuren der All-Mächtigen (Pathways of the Gods) for German television station, Sat.1. In 1996, a one-hour television special called, Chariots Of The Gods - The Mysteries Continue, aired on ABC and was produced by ABC/Kane. ABC/Kane produced another television special with von Däniken the following year called The Mysterious World – Search for Ancient Technology. It aired on the Discovery Channel in the United States and on RTL in Germany.[31][32][33][34]

The global media rights to the book have since been purchased by Media Invest Entertainment which is developing a "360-degree entertainment" franchise entitled Chariots of the Gods.[35][36]

Legacy

The Chariots of the Gods spawned multiple sequels, including Gods from Outer Space and The Gods Were Astronauts. The theory in the original book is said to have influenced a variety of science fiction books, films, and television series. For instance, it is considered the inspiration for the History Channel television series, Ancient Aliens.[37] It has also been used as a plot element in television shows and movies like Star Trek, Stargate, The X-Files, the Alien franchise (most notably, Prometheus), and the Indiana Jones franchise.[17][38][39][40][41]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Story, Ronald (1976). The space-gods revealed : a close look at the theories of Erich von Däniken. New York: Harper & Row. p. 2. ISBN 0-06-014141-7. Citing Der Spiegel, in issue 12/1969 (March 17, 1969), p. 184 and issue 12/1973 (March 19, 1973), p. 145
  2. ^ a b c Fritze, Ronald H. (2009), Invented Knowledge: False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions, Reaktion Books, pp. 206, 212, footnote 76 in page 286, ISBN 978-1-86189-817-3
  3. ^ a b Legrand, H.E.; Boese, Wayne E. (May 1975). "Chariots of the Gods? And All That: Pseudo-History in the Classroom". The History Teacher. 8 (3): 359–370. doi:10.2307/491740. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b Clegg, Brian (5 June 2007). "Review - Chariots of the Gods - Erich von Daniken". Popular Science. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  5. ^ Bolton, Doug (7 December 2015). "Stonehenge: The most unsual theories about why the mysterious monument was built". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b Lingeman, Richard R. (31 March 1974). "Erich von Daniken's Genesis". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b Kroth, Jerry (1 November 2010). Aliens and Man? A Synopsis of Facts and Beliefs. Algora Publishing. ISBN 978-0875868165.
  8. ^ a b Lehmann, Fritz (7 April 2015). "Beatenberg: "Besuche von Ausserirdischen würden nicht schaden"". Berner Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  9. ^ Magin, Ulrich (10 February 2002). "Nazca – Ein Flughafen für die Götter?" (in German). Mysteria3000. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Die Nazca – Linien" (in German). Astrolymp. April 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  11. ^ Vassallo, Raphael (3 January 2017). "Unearthing the mysteries of the past". Malta Today. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  12. ^ a b Krassa, Peter (1978), Erich von Däniken: Disciple of the Gods, London: W. H. Allen & Co, pp. 82–83, ISBN 0-352-30262-3
  13. ^ a b Weiler, A.H. (28 February 1974). "Sifting Past for Space Visitors' Tracks". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  14. ^ a b Eschhofen, Dave (25 March 1974). "Stellar Spectra". The Bryan Times. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  15. ^ Price, Randall (15 February 2005). Searching for the Ark of the Covenant: Latest Discoveries and Research. Harvest House. ISBN 978-0736910521.
  16. ^ Ingray, G.M. (24 September 1972). "'Chariots' theory - how valid?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  17. ^ a b Frederiksen, Seth (29 May 2016). "Book Review: Chariots Of The Gods". ComiConverse. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Däniken: Wer von Wem?". Der Spiegel: 184–185. March 17, 1969. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012.
  19. ^ "Charioteer of the Gods". Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  20. ^ "The Case of the Ancient Astronauts". BBC 2. 1977. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  21. ^ "Playboy". Playboy. 21 (8): 64. August 1974. von Däniken: "Oh, God, I have so many times tried to correct things, and my experience has been that the corrections are almost never made."
  22. ^ [1] Impact of Science on Society, Volume XXIV, Number 4 (1974).
  23. ^ "A UFO convention is heading for Manchester". About Winchester. 5 January 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  24. ^ "'Aliens will return to Earth within 20 years', Chariots of the Gods author predicts". Yahoo UK. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  25. ^ "The 43rd Academy Awards (1971) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  26. ^ "In Search of Ancient Astronauts (TV Movie 1973)". IMDb. January 5, 1973. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  27. ^ Lambert, David (7 September 2012). "In Search of... - High-Res Package Art and Exciting New Details for 'The Complete Collection' DVDs!". TVShowsonDVD. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  28. ^ "In Search of Ancient Mysteries". IMDb. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  29. ^ "The Case of the Ancient Astronauts". BBC 2. 1977. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Horizon Special". BBC. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Auf den Spuren der All-Mächtigen". IMDb. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Chariots of the Gods? The Mysteries Continue". IMDb. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  33. ^ "The Mysterious World: Search for Ancient Technology". IMDb. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  34. ^ "Tales of Ancient Aliens With Erich von Däniken (Episode 49, GFM Media)". Global Freedom Movement. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  35. ^ Ostojic, Magdalena (18 October 2013). "Von Däniken wieder fest im Sattel". Jungfrau Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Kinofilm, Videospiel, TV-Serie: Ufologe von Däniken bald übernatürlich präsent" (in German). Focus. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  37. ^ Shermer, Michael (July 2013). "How Beliefs in Extraterrestrials and Intelligent Design Are Similar". Scientific American. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  38. ^ "50 best cult books". The Daily Telegraph. 12 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  39. ^ Armstrong, Laura (12 October 2016). "ET TO PHONE HOME Aliens are 'watching us and could arrive on Earth in the next 20 years'". The Sun. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  40. ^ "Secrets of Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus': An Earthquake, Never-Seen Photos and Nightmarish Monster". The Hollywood Reporter. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  41. ^ Darlage, Dale (2011). "Odyssey of the Gods: The History of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Greece". The SF Site. Retrieved 15 March 2017.

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