Published: 3:09 PM - 05-21-11
Did we once go into space?
Over the last few weeks, the National Geographic TV channel has been showing a number of documentaries about ancient astronauts and whether aliens from Outer Space visited Earth in the past.
On one of the programs, Erich von Daniken was pretty rude about our ancestors, calling them savages and barbarians, as well as suggesting that they couldn't have built anything like the prehistoric monuments which still exist, without having gotten help from aliens. This begs the question - who taught the aliens ?
12,000 - 10,000 years ago, the last Ice Age ended and as gallons and gallons (OK, so I'm old fashioned!) of water melted, the sea level rose, often by several hundred feet.
Myths and legends tell of cities, sometimes even countries which sank beneath the sea - think of Atlantis, the glass city of Ys (France), or the lost land of Lyonesse, which once lay beyond Cornwall. These could well be stories based on memories of prehistoric towns which were, truly, washed away by the rising seas.
What has this to do with ancient astronauts? Well, if there was a civilisation on Earth at that time which was just about where we are now, maybe plus about another 50 years, they would have lived where there were plenty of contacts with other countries - and that probably means near the sea.
If they lived around 15,000 - 12,000 years ago, plenty of countries which we now live in, would have been hidden under several hundred feet of glacier ice - think about New Zealand, the south of South America, Scandinavia, or Russia. People would have been living in what are now the tropics and sub-tropics. then probably a pleasant temperate climate.
North Africa, India, Central America, the countries of the Far East and the Pacifi Islands are all places often mentioned when people speak of 'ancient astronauts' and they are also the places where people were likely to have lived near the end of the last Ice Age.
What if these people had a civilisation something like ours? - or maybe 50 years ahead of us? Wouldn't they have been likely to have sent explorers to the Moon? Maybe to Mars or to the moons of Jupiter or Saturn?
These explorers may well have been robots, if the technology had been discovered (and the myth of King Minos of Crete having a giant mechanical guardian named Talos suggests that robots weren't unknown in the distant past), but in 50 years' time we may well have colonies on the Moon and maybe even Mars. What is to say that the Ice Age people didn't do the same?
There's no evidence for an Ice Age Cape Canaveral, or Baikonur, you may object, but if large chunks of Ice Age countryside are now under the deep sea, who's to say that the ruins of such launch pads might not still lie under tons of sediment at the bottom of the Atlantic or Pacific?
I can imagine a scenario where the Ice Age civilisations did indeed send probes, explorerers, then colonists to the nearer planets. The colonies might even have started to thrive.
Then came the end of the Ice Age, a sudden warmiing period that sent sea levels skyrocketing. The Mission commanders would have attempted to bring everybody back as soon as possible, but with their Mission Control Centres suddenly under water, somebody could easily have been left behind. Probably several somebodies.
The abandoned colonists would have had to fight hard for survival, but they might have made it, maybe eventually even being able to jury-rig a landing module to bring them - or more likely, their descendents - back to Earth.
Earth one thousand years after their ancestors had left would look nothing like the planet they had always imagined. The high civilisations would have vanished, washed away by the rising seas, but smaller groups would have retreated to the high hills and mountains and, like Noah and his Ark, come down to populate a totally new land once the sea levels stabilised.
The returning colonists would not have been able to replace the old high civilisations - too much of the infrastructure would have been washed away, but they could help start the rebuilding. Teaching mathematics, reading and writing would have been basic, then they could go on to engineering and medicine, astronomy and optics, all sciences which look as if they were studied in the distant past - ground lenses at a time when nobody should have been working with lenses, a battery in the Middle East when nobody was supposed to be working with electricity and, of course, the megalithic monuments still scattered here and there all over the Earth.
Do we really need ancient astronauts? - or could it be that our own ancestors, nearly destroyed by a gigantic catastrophe - came back to help the planet of their birth?