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. 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 Clasificaci¢n Exobiol¢gica 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), order Primates (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 travellers 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 Xing£ River. Not unlike the heroes of India’s Mahabarata, 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.
The Popol Vuh, sacred to the Mayans, unequivocally states: …men came from the stars, knowing everything, and they examined the four corners of the sky and the Earth’s round surface.” Yet another book, the Chilam Balaam, is even more explicit: “Beings descended from the sky in flying vessels…white men in flying rings, who can touch the sky.”
There are indications that something very strange took place on our very own continent hundreds of thousands of years ago, before humans arrived on this continent (according to the canon of anthropology). Santa Mar¡a Canyon holds evidence pointing toward the existence of a culture of intelligent beings who raised cattle, built weapons, and practiced funeral rites–one million years ago. If we decide to stick with what academia has to say, in no way could these beings have been humans. Were they survivors of an “Elder Race”? Marooned spacemen, or colonists trying to tame a new planet? During the Prehistory Conference held during 1962 in Rome, Dr. W. Matthes presented the oldest carvings known to exist, created by a forgotten artist two hundred thousand years ago, when humans had allegedly just discovered the use of fire.
Curious details suggesting the visit of extraterrestrial travelers can be found in the presence of technological items which are far too advanced for the cultures in which they are discovered. Sandal-and-loincloth cultures in the Americas and the Middle East appear to have mastered the creation of aluminum (refined from bauxite–a highly complex process) and platinum (which requires temperatures of thousands of degrees). Yet these very same civilizations clearly had no knowledge of more elemental technology, such as the wheel. Was this knowledge “imparted” by non-terrestrial creatures to a “priesthood” of primitive humans, who surrounded the knowledge (and perhaps the non-terrestrial devices needed to apply it) under the panoply of esoteric knowledge and mystery cults?
Perhaps some of the alien teachers stayed behind on Earth, out of sight, in an advisory capacity. Peru’s Cuzco Museum holds a most interesting exhibit which has attracted much anthropological interest but little in the way of answers: it is a high-domed skull with impossibly large eye-sockets, found in a Peruvian archaeological site. Experts affirm that the cranial deformation was not artificial (cranial deformation was widely practiced by Mesoamerican and South American cultures) nor does it appear to be that of an abnormal human. Could a Peruvian museum hold the only tangible proof of alien visitation on Earth?
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, unartistic, 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, braving desert sands, Polisario terrorists, and suspicious Algerian security forces, Spanish researchers Jorge Blaschke, Rafael Brancas and Julio Mart¡nez 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. Mart¡nez 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.
UFOs still make their presence felt in the modern Sahara. Aim‚ Michel mentions a sighting made at Ouallen, some 250 miles west of the Tassili-N-Ajjer, in 1942. A group of meteorologists spotted an object at an altitude of 18,000 ft. which they described as a revolving “planet.” The object remained above them for two days before disappearing. Cigar-shaped objects were reported on numerous occasions throughout Algeria in the 1950’s–the French air base at Tessalit (Algeria) mistook a low-flying UFO for a DC-3 about to land. The mysterious light made a characteristic 90ø turn, and climbed into the night sky, vanishing from sight. Even the 1976 Spanish expedition was treated to a UFO sighting near the desert air-strip of In Salah on its way to Tassili.
The examples of cave art found in the Spanish caverns of Ojo Guare¤a 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.
The Ojo Guare¤a complex, weaving its way for miles into the earth, poses an undecipherable riddle. In his book En Busca de la Historia Perdida (In Search of Forgotten History), Spanish author and filmmaker Juan G. Atienza states that some of the cave systems many entrances are considered “evil,” and the local farmers will not till the soil near them nor even come close to them. Containes precisely within one of these “evil” points of access is an ancient petroglyph of what could only be, astounding though it might seem, a representation of the helicoidal structure of DNA.
But the Old World certainly does not have a monopoly on these paleolithic enigmas. 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.
Petroglyphs found in caves both on the island of Hispaniola and in Puerto Rico often represent highly unusual images, such as hirsute, bearded male figures, hooded faces, beings with what appear to be hoses connecting their heads to their backs, and even more disturbing depictions. One of the petroglyphs found at Cueva de Las Maravillas, on the island of Hispaniola (Santo Domingo) depicts a bearded figure together with an artifact that appears to be suspended in mid-air. Images found in Taino caves on other parts of the island represent flying objects with dangling ladders.
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? The subject will remain open to endless debate, unfortunately, for the forseeable future.