Literal Interpretation of Myth
SECOND DISCLOSURE: I find Ancient Aliens to be interesting, and that is enough for me to watch it, when I have. I do not spend much time watching television however.
I have noticed announcements that Ancient Aliens has reached 100 episodes. This is a magic number for syndication purposes, with 100 being the number of episodes needed to assure a proper rerun ability. However, with the advent of the internet, home media, and other changes since the height of syndicated television series being monetary cash cows. This degree of success, however, is not anything to laugh at. In the day of many different options competing for your entertainment dollar, 100 episodes is a hit. And the subject matter is interesting, and for reasons that I'll go into, it struck upon a vein in modern culture.
The world of believers of Ancient Astronauts and Ancient Aliens began in earnest in the early 1970s. But the world as a whole became attracted to antiquity and weird happenings perhaps with the discovery of King Tut's tomb and all of the bullshit regarding curses. While I do not believe in curses, I am very interested in antiquity, so for my part, new discoveries of ancient cities, bodies, monuments are always fascinating. Other discoveries became part of the world of pulp fiction, with adventures happening in the tombs of the lost civilizations. The movie serials often used the settings of the lost worlds, but, even with Indian Jones movies, that isn't the same as suggesting aliens visited humanity prior to the recording of history.
(For the record, while you cannot really say that people were wrong in feeling that the curse was real since they have their own "feelings", drawing conclusions based on facts are a much different matter. Even then, however, in the case of King Tut's Tomb, there does seem to be a higher rate of death than normal.*)
Dawn of Ancient Astronaut Theories and CHARIOTS OF THE GODS
ERICH VON DANIKEN
Erich von Daniken is something of a puzzle for people who think his ideas are interesting but are not convinced. His earlier life involved theft and deception. Personally I am unsure if that actually does have anything of value to tell us about his later life and work. Detractors will certainly think so. True believers will think not.
However, with his work, Chariots of the Gods, Daniken struck a vein in western culture. The late sixties and early seventies were years of cultural upheaval and change. Religions faced crashing attendance while universities found students striking for more individuality over group think activities and teaching. Daniken set fire to thought with his argument that many of the mysteries of the world could be answered if you look at the ancient texts and read them without challenging the author. For instance, "This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel." (Ezekiel 1:16), to Daniken this meant that Ezekiel had experienced a UFO and possible alien abduction/visitation. The writing style Daniken utilized was rather genius. Instead of creating new paradigms and arguments, he uses the information presented, and asks, how, why, wouldn't this, rather than taking a position, he presents evidence, and then says, this is what it looks like to me after reading the scriptures. Daniken thereafter wrote many more works, and is considered by many of the people who believe, to be a father of the theory and the community.
Zecharia Sitchin was a promoter of the hidden giant planet theory that has just recently been revisited. He used the discoveries of Sumerian cultures in both image and language to explain how the people from that planet, called Nibiru, came to earth to take resources. To work the earth they used forced labor, but finding the labor not good enough, they turned to dna splicing to create a hybrid of alien and primal pre-human. The result of new human was marked with an enormous leap in brain size, and organized behavior that had not previously been seen. Sitchin used the major scriptures of various religions to demonstrate how these religious stories are actually myths telling us about what happened, through ancient eyes. The general argument made against Sitchin's works is that he took literal what was figurative, his language interpretation was often wrong, and he used language to support his position rather than use actual facts i.e. "it can not be doubted that". His work does tell a fascinating story, and whether or not it actually happened, it could be the basis for a wild movie, or comic series.
Although he passed away far too soon, Philip Coppens offered a wide variety of educated notions about the implications of ancient finds and connections, cross the globe and perhaps into space. Often in episodes of Ancient Aliens his appearances and comments were the most cogent and interesting. I find his writing to be the most elegant of the assembled Ancient Astronaut theorists.
* (Stats borrowed from WIKI) Deaths popularly attributed to Tutankhamun's "curse".
The tomb was opened on 29 November 1922.
Lord Carnarvon, financial backer of the excavation team who was present at the tomb's opening, died on 5 April 1923 after a mosquito bite became infected; he died 4 months and 7 days after the opening of the tomb.
George Jay Gould I, a visitor to the tomb, died in the French Riviera on 16 May 1923 after he developed a fever following his visit.
Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey of Egypt died 10 July 1923: shot dead by his wife.
Colonel The Hon. Aubrey Herbert, MP, Carnarvon's half-brother, became nearly blind and died on 26 September 1923 from blood poisoning related to a dental procedure intended to restore his eyesight.
Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid, a radiologist who x-rayed Tutankhamun's mummy, died on 15 January 1924 from a mysterious illness.
Sir Lee Stack, Governor-General of Sudan, died on 19 November 1924: assassinated while driving through Cairo.
A. C. Mace, a member of Carter's excavation team, died in 1928 from arsenic poisoning
The Hon. Mervyn Herbert, Carnarvon's half brother and the aforementioned Aubrey Herbert's full brother, died on 26 May 1929, reportedly from "malarial pneumonia".
Captain The Hon. Richard Bethell, Carter's personal secretary, died on 15 November 1929: found eating poison in his bed.
Richard Luttrell Pilkington Bethell, 3rd Baron Westbury, father of the above, died on 20 February 1930; he supposedly threw himself off his seventh floor apartment.
Howard Carter opened the tomb on 16 February 1923, and died well over a decade later on 2 March 1939; however, some have still attributed his death to the "curse"