Chariots Of The Gods: Sketchy Tales Of Ancient Aliens Became A Best Seller

By Sarah Norman | November 3, 2023

Von Däniken Asked Some Reasonable Questions; He Just Gave Flimsy Answers

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Have you ever been curious about Earth's artifacts? Why massive ancient temples across the globe are pyramidal? Or why cave drawings throughout the ancient world looks as if they show beings from the sky? In 1968, Von Däniken sought to explain that these aren't just coincidences, but a map to the stars. Chariots of the Gods sent shockwaves through the extra-terrestrial- and UFO-obsessed underground, and it made a splash in mainstream culture as well. Had someone finally cracked the secret art, science, and religion all in one book?

According to academics, no, not at all.

Chariots of the Gods was cast as pseudoscience by many who read it, and as much as people got into reading about our god-like alien overlords they were just as into debunking the theories that von Däniken put forth in this book. The saga of Chariots of the Gods, its claims, and fallout are more than just the rise and fall of a weird piece of pseudoscience. It tells the story of belief, fraud, and the lengths that people will go to find meaning in the universe.

Chariot Of The Gods Explains Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Historical Visits With Extraterrestrials, Sort Of

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It's no small task to explain life, the universe, and everything in one book, but von Däniken makes a go of it in 267 pages. In 12 chapters he attempts to explain that many, if not all, of the ancient structures and artifacts that seem too technologically advanced to be created by human hand were either built by extraterrestrial visitors or that their construction was guided by visitors from beyond the stars.

The Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, the "mysteries of South America" -- to von Däniken they're all proof that mankind received help from a group of visitors trying to help us grow technologically and intellectually so that we can continue spreading knowledge throughout the universe. In turn, making us into the chariot-riding space gods of tomorrow.

To prove his hypothesis the book is filled with facts and figures that look correct if you're not a mathematician, and when those calculations don't work von Däniken falls back on making wild claims without backing them up. For instance, when von Däniken explains that when the ancient Sumerians wrote about the Earth in Gilgamesh they did so with the help of ancient aliens. He writes:

Some living creature must have seen the Earth from a great height. The account is too accurate to have been the product of pure imagination. Who could have possibly said that the land looked like porridge and the sea like a water-trough, if some conception of the globe from above had not existed? Because the Earth actually does look like a jig-saw puzzle of porridge and water-troughs from a great height.