The Paleocontact Hypothesis: The Origin Of Ancient Astronaut Theory

The paleocontact hypothesis, also known as the ancient astronaut theory, suggests that extraterrestrial beings have had a significant impact on human history. It was first proposed by scholars such as Mathest M. Agrest and Henri Lhote in the 1960s, but has also been popularized in non-scientific literature.

The ideas put forth by Erich von Däniken, such as the ancient astronaut theory, have been widely popularized and commercially successful. However, despite the potential plausibility of these concepts (such as the Guardian hypothesis and the existence of alien artifacts), there is not enough concrete evidence to support them. Nevertheless, upon closer examination of certain claims, alternative explanations can often be found. One example of this is the Dogon tribe and their seemingly advanced knowledge of the star Sirius.

Matest M. Agrest (1915-2005)

The paleocontact hypothesis, also known as the ancient astronaut theory, is a concept first proposed by Mathest Mendelevich Agrest and Henri Lhote in the late 1950s. These scientists, both respected in their fields, suggested that certain ancient structures and monuments were the results of contact with extraterrestrial beings. Despite the serious academic nature of these initial proposals, the idea was later popularized and sensationalized in books such as Erich von Däniken's, leading to it being associated with pseudoscience and pseudohistory.

Mathest Mendelevich Agrest, born in Mogilev, Belarus, was a Russian ethnologist and mathematician who was known for his unorthodox theories about ancient cultures and their possible connections to extraterrestrial life. He graduated from Leningrad University in 1938 and received his Ph.D. in 1946. Agrest became the head of the university laboratory in 1970 and retired in 1992, later emigrating to the United States. In 1959, he proposed the idea that the giant terrace at Baalbek in Lebanon was used as a launchpad for spacecraft and that the destruction of the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was caused by a nuclear explosion. His son, Mikhail Agrest, also held similar controversial views.

Mikhail Agrest, a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, was the son of Matesta Agrest. He inherited his father's interest in seeking unconventional explanations for unusual events on Earth, including the Tunguska phenomenon. Agrest believed that the event was caused by an explosion of an extraterrestrial spacecraft, a theory supported by Felix Siegel from the Moscow Aviation Institute, who suggested that the object had made controlled maneuvers prior to falling.

Erich Von Däniken (1935–)

Erich von Däniken is a Swiss author who has written several bestselling books, starting with "Chariots of the Gods?" in 1968. These books promote the idea of paleocontact, or the idea that ancient civilizations had contact with extraterrestrial beings. While the basic thesis of past alien visits is not implausible to some scientists, the evidence von Däniken and others have gathered to support their case is considered by many to be suspect and not well-supported by scientific evidence. Despite this, von Däniken's books have sold millions of copies, indicating a widespread desire among many people to believe in the existence of intelligent life beyond Earth.

The Paleocontact hypothesis, popularized by figures like George Adamski and Erich von Däniken, was a response to the anxieties of the Cold War era, providing a way for people to believe in extraterrestrial influence and ancient wisdom from the stars.

Henri Lhote (1903-1991)

Henri Lhote was a French ethnologist and researcher who made significant discoveries of rock carvings at Tassili-n-Ajera in the central Sahara region. He documented these findings in his book "Search for Tassili frescoes", which was first published in France in 1958. One of the figures depicted in the book, known as Lot Jabbaren, was referred to as "the great Martian god."

The photograph and other images, initially thought to depict extraterrestrial beings, were later found to be of ordinary people in ritual masks and costumes. However, the press had already latched onto the idea of paleocontact, and it was later used by Erich von Däniken as evidence for his theory of "ancient astronauts."