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The search for E.T.'s Smoking Gun

The ancient astronaut hypothesis in today's culture

Delivered at the Ancient Astronaut World Conference, Gelsenkirchen, June 26, 1999

We are at the end of the millennium. Only 188 days to go.
The ancient astronaut theory (AAH) is, at this time marker, more than 30 years old. Since the popularisation of the concept by Erich von Däniken at the end of the sixties, the world has radically changed. This has also reflected on the AAH.
Should there be people who believe that the AAH is still a fringe theory: think again.
Von Daniken is, in the eyes of many authors “out there”, often an author who inspired many to think in novel ways – but also the one they use as the example that “their thinking” is not as “radical” as von Daniken’s.

What this lecture does address is the topic of the AAH amongst the general public; for this theory is now leading a life of its own and has detached itself from von Daniken. It seems the child has grown up and is about to lead a life of its own.
But with each adolescent, perhaps it is best that from within the bellies of the AAS, some guidance and discussion is given to the “young boy” that is leaving its home.

First of all, the AAH has now firmly found its place within the walls of science. Of course, any mention of “von Daniken” will not be found in league with it.

Over the past 30 years, the AAH and von Daniken’s allegations have forced science into reconsidering ancient enigmas. At the same time, the scientists have finally been able to break through the “psychological gap” of dating monuments before 4000 BC. It has been a long standing joke that the year 4000 BC as the year of creation had been replaced with the start of civilisation. The series of monuments now dated older include the megaliths of Egypt and Carnac; the original structure of Stonehenge has been dated to 8100 BC.
At the same time, the Nasca lines have been re-interpreted. Analysis of inscriptions has shown the local population was in the possession of hang gliders and hot air balloons; practical experiments have taken place which have shown this was indeed the case. Though scientists have not endorsed the “ancient airport”-theory, von Daniken’s exposure of this little known enigma has actually created a sudden revelation in the field of “landscape art”, particularly with such authors and researchers as Tony Morrison, Paul Devereux et al. Though these do not accept “airport theory” (for good reasons), they do accept that the locals were in the possession of high technology. I feel this is quite a vindication for both von Daniken and the AAH, as at least they hinted at something which scientists ruled out, but which nevertheless proved partially right.

Today, a battle rages in the circles of archaeology, as scientists know that they will have to endorse the notion that ancient civilisation used mind-altering substances, at which time they depicted strange scenes on walls, such as rock art. Clear lines of proponents and opponents have been drawn in this field and, as mentioned, a battle is raging. If archaeologists cannot even accept this fact, we can only wonder when they will accept notions of the AAH. However, once again, time will tell and the passing of time is often the first sign of the strength and durability of a theory. So as long as the AAH can “hang in there”, the more scientists will realise its strength … and the first signs of acceptance will be found.

The best sign of the “The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” is The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence or, SETI-project. Though it is difficult to find continued and easy funding for this project, the project has managed to stay alive – I am sure the editorial staff of Legendary Times knows how this feels.

Both SETI and the AAH suffer from the same problem: many signals, but which one is the correct one?
In the case of SETI, signals of an extraterrestrial origin might be overlooked or not understood as alien communications. With no framework to reference against, any scientific thinking is largely impossible. This is, in fact, the very reason why SETI is at the fringes of science and UFOs and the AAH in its narrowest interpretation are outside the interest of science.

One example: though the lines of Nazca are anomalous and there is evidence for a high civilization, it is not evidence that “ET was there”.
Another example: though current technology cannot build the Great Pyramid in the manner it was built, it is clear that we ourselves are a space-faring nation, yet we do not possess the required technology – or rather: the correct technology – to build it today.

The same problem might also apply to scientific evidence, as with the famous Martian meteorite. NASA, whose research is probably the closest parallel to those that would be labelled AAH-scientists, are today the chief proponents who claim that life has developed elsewhere in the universe and that, in fact, life might be found everywhere in the Universe. Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett have illustrated this in their talk at this conference earlier today.

To briefly recap: NASA’s research has revealed that DNA – and life – seem nascently present in the entire universe. Chances are this was developed elsewhere in the universe and somehow ended up on Earth, rather than that it was an “Earthly” invention.

Was life “seeded” on Earth from elsewhere? And was this knowingly or accidentally seeded?

Bio-engineers have labeled 97 percent of DNA “junk DNA” as they cannot understand the importance of this material (attaching no role or function to it whatsoever). Even if it were “junk”, one should ask the question: “garbage of what?” Our garbage is material no longer in use, but was once an object at some point before it turned into garbage. So what use had “junk DNA” before it was no longer used? That such an effective system as DNA – by far the best photocopier in the world – would continue to carry 97% of useless material – at the same time noting that according to the evolution theory, this “junk DNA” should become obsolete over the generations – is quite illogical. Here we therefore have something which is termed as having an extra-terrestrial origin, but which is also anomalous. DNA therefore such be a prime candidate to open up scientific debate in the AAH-framework, which should not, however, result in wild guesswork and sensational theories.
A central question is whether it is, indeed, garbage, or whether it performs a function. Whatever the conclusion, I am quite confidant that in the next few years, the evidence for the extraterrestrial nature of DNA and the nascency of life in the entire universe – from the point of creation onwards – will gather momentum in scientific circles.

It is with the result of DNA research that we, for the first time, come to something that would suggest the possibility of an AAH-event is at least likely, as it suggest the possibility for ET life “out there” is gigantic. Carl Sagan himself had calculated that a spaceship would normally be expected to cross our solar system once every 10,000 years. Whereas many have observed that he later turned an arch-skeptic, it should perhaps be stressed that Sagan did discern in what he considered to be evidence that was worthy of AAH-consideration or material that was blindly used to construct an AAH-event and became accepted as such.

It seems likely that it will be unavoidable that the AAH will have to be more and more integrated in science.
This, then, is the first trend: that science is slowly beginning to accept strands of the AAH – or find evidence to back up certain claims.
At the other end, however, is a more damaging and even dangerous problem. For the AAH has been hijacked by certain authors who claim to be scientific about their approach to the subject – sometimes using Erich von Daniken as how they do not do it --, but who seem to go boldly beyond the claims (or proposals) of Erich – and seem to get away with it.

Because of the potential pitfalls both for the AAH and the general public, I will go into some examples of these.

The best example is that of Oannes, the Babylonian civilizing god who gave mankind knowledge. Sagan believed that the myth of Oannes, was worthy of consideration as an AAH-event.
The story of Oannes has since been used and abused ever since. Robert Temple merely quoted it and wildly speculated upon it, incorporating it in his book The Sirius Mystery. A reading of the book will make clear that the Oannes-story was merely introduced to serve as “the best evidence” that was solely introduced to back up wild claims and speculations on an AAH-event involving the Dogon and the ancient Egyptians.
Unfortunately, little if no research has been done in the Oannes-story itself, which in itself is quit amazing considering Sagan’s signaling of the story as of possible AAH-use occurred thirty years ago. What has happened in the last thirty years was an almost endless series of what the “best evidence” might mean in light of the AAH.

Both this story and the AAH in general seemed to take, in 1976, a quantum leap forward with the discovery of the so-called “Face on Mars”.
This included a semi-official report of the American think-tank SRI (Stanford Research International), who financed a study by Richard Hoagland into it. The photos were, however, quickly seized upon by various authors – and Hoagland himself – that made the entire subject result in a sensational series of claims, which did not stop in 1998 when the new pictures became available. The way the face on Mars is a perfect example of how we as a “movement” should not try to prove the AAH.

Hoagland not only used the Oannes-story, he also fused it with the Temple-developed (seemingly scientific) methodology of analyzing words and linking these explanations together, in the end drawing comparisons between Cairo (Mars) and the Face on Mars and the Sphinx. More recently, he also used the so-called pictures of drawings of “helicopters” in Egyptian temples as evidence that the Egyptians were familiar with helicopters and other high-knowledge material. Here it was actually Johannes Fiebag who had to come to the rescue of the AAH and state that this was not the case. I’m sure that during question time, Jo will want to answer questions on this topic – should you have any.

I want to go into some more detail here, as it is here that the prime problem of the adolescent AAH is situated. Lest we deal with it, I am afraid that it will turn into a criminal and will make a mockery of its parents – and might destroy the AAH for all of us.

One of the most influential of books in this field is The Sirius Mystery by Robert Temple, which was first published in 1976 and in an extensively updated edition in 1998. As many of you will know, it homes in on the extraordinary knowledge of a West African tribe, the Dogon of Mali. The Dogon religion centres on the star Sirius. There is nothing unusual about that because, as Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, many cultures have incorporated it into their beliefs and mythology. However, what intrigued Temple - and many others - was that French anthropologists who studied the Dogon religion reported that they also believed that Sirius has a companion - a very small and very heavy star that is invisible to the naked eye.

We now know that this is true. Sirius is a binary star system, with a second, white dwarf star - very small, very heavy - in orbit around the main star. Sirius B, as it is called, was only discovered in 1842, and it was not photographed until the 1970s. How, then, could the Dogon have known about it?

Temple's theory is that the knowledge of Sirius B originated from contact with extraterrestrials from a planet in the Sirius system. Because of its apparently academic and scholarly approach, Temple's book received a level of critical acclaim and acceptance that set it apart from other 'ancient astronaut' theories, such as those of Erich von Daniken.

The anomalous knowledge of the Dogon - not just about Sirius, but many other things - does present a genuine mystery. However, Temple was keen to link this with ancient Egypt, and here, in my view, his case is less than persuasive, as major parts of his argument are based on factual errors, and are often contrived.

For example, one of the key points in his case involves the interpretation of myths connected with Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead. His justification for this is that Sirius is known as the 'Dog Star', so, by a process of association we go from dog to jackal to Anubis. Therefore, when the ancient Egyptians spoke about Anubis they were really talking about Sirius, or rather Sirius B.

But there is a major problem with this - the ancient Egyptians did not associate Sirius with Anubis. For them, Sirius was the star of the goddess Isis, and sometimes, by extension, her son Horus. It was the Greeks who called Sirius the Dog Star, because it was in the constellation that they named the Great Dog (Canis Major). The Egyptians never made a connection between Sirius and either Anubis or dogs. Therefore, Temple's use of legends connected with Anubis is based on an entirely false premise.

Another chain of associations followed by Temple relates to the Hermetic literature - the magical and philosophical texts ascribed to the legendary sage Hermes Trismegistus - which he believes incorporates references to the 'Sirius secret'. His justification for doing so is that - he says - the Greeks equated their god Hermes with Anubis.

Amazingly, Temple has (as far as we are aware) gone unchallenged on this point for more than twenty years - even though it is just plain wrong. Hermes was the equivalent of the Egyptian Thoth, not Anubis. Once again, Temple has based an entire line of reasoning on a mistake. But such is his influence that many people have simply accepted it.

There are many similar examples in Temple's book, which in our view seriously undermine his attempt to trace the 'Sirius secret' - and therefore the visitation of beings from Sirius - back to ancient Egypt.

Temple makes another mistake in The Sirius Mystery, which is a small slip in itself, and of no particular significance to his argument, but which does - as we will see - have some very important ramifications in another context.

Temple gives as one of the ancient Egyptian names for the Sphinx of Giza the words arq ur. Many others, using Temple as their authority, have since repeated this as fact. Unfortunately, arq ur does not mean 'Sphinx'. It means 'silver'. The mistake arose because Temple misread the entry for arq ur in Sir E.A. Wallis Budge's classic 1920 dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Against the entry for arq ur, two English words appear after the hieroglyphs. One is 'silver', the correct definition. The other reads 'Sphinx, 2, 8'. This is not a definition, but a reference to Budge's source, a French Egyptological journal called Sphinx. The '2' refers to the volume, and '8' the page number. On page 8 of volume 2 are the hieroglyphs for 'silver' that Budge used in his dictionary.

This mistake does not carry any particular significance for Temple's overall argument, as he mentions it only in passing - but it does turn up in some very surprising places.

The revised edition of The Sirius Mystery, published last year, contains some significant new material.

In the original 1976 edition, Temple only argued the case for extraterrestrial contact in the ancient past. In the new edition he has extended his argument to the imminent return of these 'space-gods'. He now believes that they did not return home to the Sirius system, but placed themselves in suspended animation somewhere in our solar system, so that one day they would awaken and return to see how the civilisation that they created has developed. Temple suggests that their return is now imminent.

Also in the new edition, Temple claims that The Sirius Mystery attracted the unwelcome interest of both the CIA and the British intelligence services. In fact, he says that the CIA tried to interfere with his research while he was writing the book, and that after it came out they persecuted him for the next 15 years.

The implication is that the CIA wanted to hinder Temple's research for The Sirius Mystery, which in turn implies that they wanted to stop him writing the book - which implies that, for some reason, they didn't want us to read it. This instils in the reader the idea that he is on the right track.

In fact, the knowledge of their interest in, and apparent opposition to, The Sirius Mystery only adds to its appeal. It actively encourages interest in the book, on the grounds that, if the CIA don't want us to read it, there must be something worth reading.

The above examples of mistakes in Temple's book demonstrate the need for careful checking of such claims. As with all genuine researchers, this is something that you have to do : check primary sources.

Unfortunately, Temple is not the exception : it is particularly in « Alternative Egyptology » (or New Age history as some have dubbed it), with Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock, that the main problem arises.

As most of you will know, Hancock and Bauval's work centres on the importance of the year 10500 BC. Around this time, they argue, some cataclysm took place that destroyed an advanced, global civilisation. Some of its knowledge survived and formed the basis of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. They also argue that the survivors left us messages encoded in such monuments as the pyramids and Sphinx of Giza.
This theory is today very much at the forefront of the public’s conscious. Let me illustrate by telling you that in February 1998 , I entered a Central London pub. Sitting down at a table, both Clive Prince and I noticed that the people at the next table – two regular blokes have a pint of lager – were talking about 10500 BC and Gizeh as the earthly location of the Duat in an animated way. That such conversations take place at all should be surprising ; that they are occurring in a regular pub as a normal topic of conversation is even more bizarre.

On the face of it, their idea seems exciting and even reasonable. But let's examine their evidence more closely.

In The Orion Mystery (1993), Robert Bauval argues that the three pyramids of Giza were built to mirror the three stars of Orion's Belt. This, in itself, is fine - it seems to work. But Bauval uses his 'Giza-Orion Correlation Theory' to link the monuments to a much more ancient period.

His argument is this. The three pyramids form an angle of 45 degrees to the north-south meridian. To make the correlation perfect, when the stars cross the celestial meridian they should form the same angle. However, when the Great Pyramid was built - in approximately 2500 BC - they didn't. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the position of the stars changes over time. Bauval reasoned that if he could find a period at which the stars formed the same angle as the pyramids, this would pinpoint a significant time - a time to which the pyramid-builders were trying to draw our attention. When he used computer simulations to wind back the precessional cycle, he found that Orion's Belt was in the 'Giza position' in 10500 BC.

However, when we decided to double check this, things took a rather surprising turn. We discovered that the geometrician Robin J. Cook, who actually produced the diagrams for The Orion Mystery, although agreeing with most of Bauval's theory, strongly disagreed with this part of Bauval's conclusions. We decided to check for ourselves to find out who was right.

We found that the Belt stars were not in the 'Giza position' in 10500 BC. To find the stars in this position - according to the same computer program used by Bauval - we have to go back to about 12000 BC at the earliest.

It seems that Bauval had simply made a mistake, and miscaculated by a couple of thousand years.

Probably the most famous development concerning ancient Egypt in the last ten years has been the redating of the Sphinx by the erosion of the limestone out of which it has been carved.

According to conventional Egyptology, the Sphinx was carved out of the Giza plateau somewhere around 2500 BC. However, many - most notably leading alternative Egyptologist John Anthony West - maintained that it is, in reality, far older.

West believed that the erosion of the Sphinx was not caused by the action of wind-blown sand, but by water. He believed that this was due to a great flood - the flood that drowned Atlantis - and argued that if this could be proven scientifically, this would be an important step in not only establishing the true age of the Egyptian civilisation, but also the existence of Atlantis. Eventually, he succeeded in getting American geologist Robert Schoch to take a look.

Shoch concluded that the erosion was due to water - centuries of exposure to rain water. But, as he pointed out, if this was the case, the Sphinx must have been there during the last period of substantial rainfall in Egypt, which occurred between about 7000 and 5000 BC. This means that the Sphinx must be at least 2,500, and perhaps as much as 5,000, years older than Egyptologists will admit.

John Anthony West claims that Schoch's work vindicates his ideas. However, it needs to be pointed out that West believed that a flood was reponsible for the erosion - and that, by finding that it was actually due to prolonged exposure to rainwater, Schoch has proven him just as wrong as he has the academic Egyptologists.

Schoch concluded that the Sphinx could have been built as long ago as 7000 BC. However, both West and Graham Hancock have used his work in support of a much earlier date - 10500 BC. They have been so succesful in this that many people now regard this as virtually proven.

West and Hancock argue that the wet period pinpointed by Schoch was not long enough to cause the erosion we see on the Sphinx. Instead, they point to a wet period that, they say, happened in the eleventh millennium BC - that is, around 10500 BC. Graham Hancock writes in Fingerprints of the Gods that at this time 'it rained and rained and rained.'

Imagine our surprise when we checked the sources on the climate of ancient and prehistoric Egypt - including the source cited by Hancock himself - and found that there was no wet period in the eleventh millennium BC.

Like Robert Bauval, Hancock and West appear to have made a simple mistake - but one that also happens to come out at the date of 10500 BC.

In his recent book Heaven's Mirror, co-authored with his wife Santha Faiia, and in the accompanying Channel 4 television series, Hancock has extended his argument in favour of that date to other ancient monuments around the world - for example, the complex of Hindu temples at Angkor in Cambodia. (Although these do not really qualify as ancient, as the earliest was built in the eleventh century AD.)

Hancock argues that these temples were laid out to represent the constellation of Draco - in the position in which it was found in 10500 BC. However, when we looked into this we found that there really is no correlation between the temples and the stars. There are temples which do not correspond to any of the stars of Draco, stars for which there is no corresponding temple - and, in any case, the pattern formed by the temples, as reconstructed by Hancock, bears very little resemblance to Draco.

It seems that Hancock, Bauval and West are, for some reason, keen to make sure that their research pinpoints the year 10500 BC - whether or not the data actually fits.

This is about the date given by the « sleeping prophet » Edgar Cayce as the building of the pyramids by people from Atlantis.

Cayce predicted the finding of the Hall of Records at Giza. It is interesting that there have been many attempts to find the Hall of Records there in the last 25 years. It needs to be pointed out that the ancient Egyptians themselves never mentioned any such thing in the context of Giza, nor is there any archaeological evidence for it. The concept of the Hall of Records comes entirely from Edgar Cayce.

Nevertheless, we find that it is present in the recent literature and is at the forefront of the mind of Zahi Hawass, director of the Gizeh monuments.
Following last year’s rush to the « Hall of records », Hawass announced he would announce the discovery of a new tomb. This is not material shown in February’s Fox special, but rather the « Tomb of Osiris », which Hawass claims to have located near the Sphinx. Hawass – whose education has been sponsored by the Edgar Cayce foundation – claimed that Herodotus had spoken of this tomb as the resting place of Osiris. Hawass claimed it was only a figurative manner of speaking. But why distort the rediscovery of this underground tomb ? It had already been found in the 1930s, by Selim Hassan. Nevertheless, Hawass pretends the discovery occurred in 1998. Together with the wild claims of Larry Hunter about a possible body of Osiris underneath the Gizeh plateau – a theory no doubt falling in popular ears after Bauval’s Gizeh-Orion-Osiris correlation theory --, are we supposed to believe Osiris is buried under the plateau ?

We have now also been told that the Gantenbrink chamber will not be opened on December 31, but that a golden capstone will be placed on the building. Hawass has refered to this as the idea that the building has now been finally completed – and links it to the Egyptian ideas that this means an era has ended, and a new one has begun.

Hoagland, Hancock and Bauval also argue that Giza and Mars do not only have pyramids in common - but both also have a Sphinx! This depends on whether you consider the Martian Face to be a Sphinx. Well, they both have faces...

Then they fall back on linguistics - or rather, as we have discovered, pseudo-linguistics. For example, Hoagland, Hancock and Bauval make much of one of the ancient Egyptian names of the Sphinx, Horakhti, which means 'Horus of the Horizon'. They claim that there are two ancient Egyptian words, one meaning 'Horus' and the other meaning 'face', that sound exactly alike: heru. So Horakhti, they say, can be translated as 'Face of the Horizon'. Could this be a description of the Face on Mars, which would be on the horizon when viewed from some of the other features?

Well. no. For a start, the thing that none of these authors tell us is that heru is a plural form of the word for 'face', so it actually means 'faces'. Besides, the hieroglyphs for the two words are completely different. In any case, because hieroglyphs don't include vowels, which therefore have to be largely guessed at, how can anybody say that any two ancient Egyptian words sounded alike?

Another linguistic loophole involves the Arab name for Cairo - Al Qahira. This is also an Arab name for Mars. Not only is this fact used to link Giza and Cydonia, but Hancock and Bauval actually say that this is 'inexplicable'. But far from being inexplicable, the reason that Cairo was given this name is, in fact, very well known. Al Qahira literally means 'the Conqueror'. The city of Cairo did not exist before 969 AD, when it was founded by an Arab general who had just conquered that part of Egypt. True, Mars does come into it, but only because at the time the city was founded the planet was in a particularly auspicious position astrologically - especially for a city built in honour of a conqueror. There is no mystery about it - but Hoagland, Hawass, Hancock and Bauval have made one. They have hijacked the ancient astronaut theory and are using it for their own agenda. They are in a position to do irreparable damage to this, and I hope the above « expose » has made some steps in stopping this ever more clearly developing trend.

There appears to be a genuine mystery about Mars. Perhaps there really are pyramids or other artificial structures there. However, attempts to link Cydonia with ancient Egypt simply don't work and have been contrived. Above all : how dare some authors try to make us believe in an ancient astronaut theory-like concept, but one that is based on false/fabricated evidence, and nevertheless look towards other « AAS-authors » and label them « cranks » or « crooks » ?

As mentioned, there are genuine mysteries. And perhaps the adolescent AAH should look towards those and find the answers there. The models of airplanes and gliders, a study currently being undertaken by Algund Eenboom and his team, are one such example. As they also presented their findings to date, I’m sure I do not have to go into their statements.

In the case of the Great Pyramid or the Sphinx, the dating is irrelevant both to the Ancient Technolgical Civilization Hypothesis (ATCH) or AAH. Various authors have (and continue to do) pushed the age of this Pyramid and/or the Sphinx back, in an effort to prove an ATCH or AAH-event. Veiling it with the shrouds of time, however, does little for the scientific mind who realizes that such endeavors merely wish to employ that the absence of evidence is evidence of the presence of something that is no longer present, such as an ET civilization ruling Egypt or Atlantis.

Therefore, the most striking event speaking for the Great Pyramid (and stone-core pyramids of Egypt in general) as an ATCH-event is their very existence. The depth and fineness of the skills involved (both the organization, the architecture, the craftsmanship, etc.) clearly show the builders were ATCH. Furthermore, this knowledge in itself is quite anomalous, though a definitive line of evolution within these pyramids is discernable. “Imhotep” is the one the Egyptians claimed as being responsible for its execution. One could wonder whether Imhotep had an “Oannes-encounter” (contact with a mysterious, non-human figure that imparts knowledge), though the evidence for this is lacking. Therefore, in the absence, the Pyramid Age, can merely be considered an ATCH-event, rather than an AAH-event.

What should, above all, be worked upon – something that did not at all seems to have happened in the 1970s with the AAS authors – is that an AAH-qualification should be the final conclusion that could be reached once all other conclusions are not satisfactory. The almost immediate labeling of AAH-events as soon as something is an anomaly, should forever have to be a thing of the past if the AAH wants to attain the scientific status.
It is, of course, quite consistent with a new child, as the AAH was back then. I am sure that for those bearing grudges for the mistakes of the AAH at that time, they should look to the past – and present – mistakes of science. All disciplines are rife with examples of this.

The AAH is, as this lecture will hopefully show, the most difficult theory to prove. The ETH-possibility of UFOs would be far easier to prove, as it happens in the present, with people that can be interrogated, and interaction with the phenomenon can occur. All of this is impossible with the AAH, in which all the evidence, apart from that collected by future discoveries, is already available. Precisely such future discoveries might prove or disprove the AAH-possibility of e.g. the Great Pyramid. On the other hand, failing absolute proof, these discoveries might give evidence suggesting the AAH might be a possibility or not.

What about the AAH as a scientific theory on its own then?

The framework for this theory is lacking. Without the definition of a framework, it is clear that the AAH will not receive major scientific interest. Therefore, how can one define such a framework? Professor John Mack, when faced with the problem of analyzing the abduction phenomenon, in which humans claim to be abducted against their will by ETs, consulted philosophical milestone Thomas Kuhn. He advised that Mack would not be bound by the current understanding of science, which had turned into dogma, and which had lost the “push” to explore “where no-one had gone before”.
This is, precisely, what the AAH tried to do: von Däniken’s original message was to question the then current thinking of history and archaeology. He realized the given explanations did not confirm the evidence. A larger framework had to been envisioned. This framework was the AAH.
Unfortunately, what did not get defined was the framework of the AAH itself. What features does something need to have before it can be classified as a possible AAH-event? No-one has ever established such a list of requirements, which is, no doubt, the main reason why the sudden boom of AAH-books of the 1970s in a non-discriminating way labeled every anomaly as either a possible AAH or the result of ET intervention. The results of this were destructive for the scientific credibility of the AAH.

The AAH is a young science, even younger than the study of the mind (psychiatry). It has, above all, never been tested with the full resources available to scientific institutions (read: lots of money to do research). It will, however, largely depend upon the position of the AAH-proponents and their attitude towards the subject that will be a decisive factor as to whether and when the AAH becomes a scientifically researchable hypothesis.
Above all, the AAH-proponents should present well-argued, conclusive points, rather than wild rumours and/or fabricated evidence, as in the case of Temple, Hancock and Bauval.

In the mean time, the search for the smoking gun of the AAH continues. One should not, however, give way to the notion that the present absence of evidence is complete evidence of absence.
Many inquisitive minds who believed in a heliocentric solar system fought centuries against a religious dogma that claimed the Earth was central in God’s creation and that Man already possessed all the knowledge it required. One of these, Giordano Bruno, actually believed in the existence of extra-terrestrial life and feverishly wanted a re-establishment of the Egyptian religion. One can only wonder whether it was this Egyptian solar religion, that preached (whether or not backed by evidence is unclear) the existence of the sun as the center of our solar system, also taught the existence of various stars with inhabitable planets and living beings on them. And if Bruno did indeed get all that from this Egyptian religion, where did the Egyptians themselves get it from? Though there is ample room in this and other examples for an AAH-classification, in this case, the possibility is not yet warm enough to classify it as such. For if the proponents of an AAH really want to be scientific, it should be that they never give up on a quest for scientifically testable evidence. For otherwise, the AAH will become a dogma for few, benefiting none.

In summation: the world has changed since the 1960s, of which von Daniken’s book was a part of. It has influenced far more people than we might actually think.
In 1973, the American think-tank SRI reported that a new consciousness had developed on Earth, which would lead to a new society and which was a radical farewell to previous thinking and society. The signs of this society are all around us. The recent movie THE MATRIX is a clear example of a new form of cinema, in which artificial intelligence, aliens, consciousness – and not to forget entertainment and social values and even reality – are completely changed.
The old world instills this in each of us also: Egypt impresses respect upon us and questions not only to what sentient beings – either terrestrial or extraterrestrial – can excel to, but also forces us to reconsider our position towards death and life in general.

It is in this world view that “the new age movement”, of which – whether we like it or not – the AAH is currently part of, is developing as a new cultural paradigm, at odds with traditional values. The question is who will be in control of this movement: will it be the “false prophets” such as Bauval, Hancock or Temple? Or do we look for “another one”, thus echoing the central image of the movie the Matrix. And it is towards the message of this movie that I will refer for the answer – without me spoiling the plot for you.

Finally, in the movie Contact, which I saw right after the end of the previous Conference in 1997, perhaps we should take as motto the advice Ellie Hathaway receives from her father: “Small steps, Ellie, small steps.”