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Well-known proponents in the latter half of the 20th century who have written numerous books or appear regularly in mass media include Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Robert K. Some ancient astronaut proponents also believe that travelers from outer space, referred to as "astronauts" (or "spacemen") built many of the structures on Earth (such as Egyptian pyramids and the Moai stone heads of Easter Island) or aided humans in building them.
Shklovski and Sagan argued that sub-lightspeed interstellar travel by extraterrestrial life was a certainty when considering technologies that were established or feasible in the late 1960s; and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with aliens.Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were constructed either directly by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from said visitors.These include Stonehenge, Pumapunku, the Moai of Easter Island, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the ancient Baghdad electric batteries.Paleocontact or "ancient astronaut" narratives first appeared in the early science fiction of the late 19th to early 20th century. Wilkins in 1954; it received some consideration as a serious hypothesis during the 1960s.Critics of the theory emerged throughout the 1970s, discrediting Von Daniken's theory to arguments that scientists and historians should seriously consider the possibility that extraterrestrial contact occurred during recorded history.Sagan illustrates this hypothesis by citing the 1786 expedition of French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, which made the earliest first contact between European and Tlingit cultures.
The contact story was preserved as an oral tradition by the preliterate Tlingit.
The iconography and accompanying Maya text, however, identifies it as a portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree of Maya mythology.
The origins of many religions are interpreted by von Däniken as reactions to encounters with an alien race.
One such example is von Däniken's interpretation of the sarcophagus lid recovered from the tomb of the Classic-era Maya ruler of Palenque, Pacal the Great.
Von Däniken writes that the design represented a seated astronaut.
The evidence is argued to include archaeological artifacts that they deem anachronistic, or beyond the accepted technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated.