The idea that extraterrestrials built the Egyptian pyramids and many other ancient megalithic sites has been around at least since the late 1960’s when Erich von Däniiken had his mega-bestseller with Chariots of the Gods. Later especially Zecharia Sitchin has also been very successful through his books and such ideas remain very popular today. The reason for this is fairly obvious: There is something about the dawn of civilization that mainstream academic researchers have failed to explain. Hence, there is a fundamental gap in our understanding of the dawn of human civilization and so there have been many proposals to fill this gap. This is that only a few generations after having left the stone age the Egyptians build colossal pyramids that have a geodesic precision and architectural scale that we would be hard pressed to reproduce today (I tend to think with many others that we would not be able to do it). The Great pyramid at Giza is for instance aligned with the direction of true north with an error not larger than 4/60ths of a degree (Try to imagine that!). Moreover, the flatness of the floor of the King’s chamber as well as of the plateaus where the pyramid has been built is astounding and would in modern times have required laser technology.
To this should then be added the amazing symmetry of granite coffins and many sculptures from ancient times that blow our minds (this, as the readers of my book will know is a good literal expression of what happens). So undeniably there is a gap in our knowledge that we may want to fill in order to expand our understanding of where we are coming from and what it is to be a human being. The early civilizations seem just to have popped up from nowhere. This is what has created the gap that the proponents of ancient astronauts have sought to fill. There is however an existential problem associated with filling it up with extraterrestrials and this is, as Mark van Stone has pointed out, that this idea implies a kind of racism against the human race and denies our ancestors credit for what they did. It also has consequences that are not necessarily very positive for how we look upon ourselves. This is especially true for Zecharia Sitchin’s view that our ancestors were slaves of an alien race and were unable to create anything without these alien visitors. We should then ask: Is this really a view that serves the spiritual awakening of humanity and emphasizes our responsibility and allows us to have faith in human creativity? If the start of civilization required a dominating alien race, someone may ask, is it then not necessary for the same thing to happen today in order for us to make progress in our evolution?
The whole idea that the Egyptian pyramids were not built by the Egyptians reminds me of how the Spanish conquistadors, and sometimes 19th century archeologists as well, would say that the builders of the Mayan cities could not possibly have been the ancestors of the Mayan people who were still living in the area. This was another expression of racism, in this case against Native Americans and Mayans in particular. While this argument is not heard so often today regarding the Mayan temples it is still very much heard about other megalithic sites in the world and especially the Egyptian pyramids.
If, however we do not want to fill in the gap in our knowledge with extraterrestrials (or Atlanteans) we will have to come up with an explanation to why the builders of the Egyptians only a few generations after the stone age in many ways were more advanced in their technological abilities than we are now. An explanation to this is something I propose in The Global Mind and the Rise of Civilization. It is possibly the first explanation that does not take away the credit from the ancients for what they did and yet does not deny the enigma. It also gives credit to the “gods” that provided the inspiration and guidance for their accomplishments. In contrast to the alien astronaut idea, I am by not then implying that the ancients were stupid not to realize that the gods were really extraterrestrials. I am saying that the “gods” of the ancients were real spiritual powers needed for guiding them for building their megaliths. Yet, to simply say that these spiritual powers created the pyramids would not give the full truth either. In certain respects the ancients in fact had minds that were superior to our own and the proof of this is a critical point. I believe these insights may be needed also for the spiritual awakening of humanity today.