In the last episode of Walking with Monsters, our earliest fish ancestors escaped their armoured enemies, the Arthropods. They evolved legs and lungs and took their first steps onto land. But not far enough from the perils of the water. Now our amphibian ancestors have made another huge leap forward. They've evolved into the first reptiles. But they will face other giants. Monsters who consider this their turf. The war for the world has moved on to dry land. The Arthropods are back. Three hundred million years ago much of the Earth was covered in vast swamp forests.
Here, nothing is as it seems. The fifty metre giants towering above this water world may look like trees, but they're actually distant relatives of ferns. Even the air is alien. Over a third is oxygen. Much higher than at any time in history. This oxygen rich atmosphere has fuelled the growth of new, super sized Arthropod predators. This Mesothelae spider is the size of a human head. She'd be hunting cats if she were alive today. She's an ambush predator. Operating from her underground headquarters. Safe in her borrow, she rests her feet on carefully constructed trip lines.
These allow her to pick up vibrations from the outside world. Reptile, Petrolacosaurus is hunting on the forest floor. Unlike our amphibian ancestors, he has tough scaly skin which traps moisture inside his body. Vital for all land dwellers. Because he doesn't dry out in the sun, he can venture away from water. But that means encountering new predators. The reptile outruns the spider. He's evolved a complex heart, much more efficient than his enemy's.
In fact the template for our own. It's a powerful pump that pushes blood and oxygen around his body to his muscles, so he can run at high speed without stopping for a rest. This time though he's trapped inside a log. At first the spider's armour stops her squeezing in.
But she's not going to give up so easily. Back in her lair, Mesothelae will inject her victim with digestive juices to dissolve him from inside. There are other dangers in the swamp apart from predators. The water levels can change rapidly. They've risen. The spider drags her dinner home, but something's wrong. Her headquarters are flooding. She'll have to evacuate. She can't dig, so she'll have to find another hole she can adapt. And once outside,
she's vulnerable to larger predators. Meganeurid is a monster dragon fly, queen of the carboniferous skies. With a wing span of almost a metre, she's the size of an eagle with an appetite to match.
High above her carboniferous kingdom, normally she's invincible. But trouble's brewing. The flood below is due to an approaching storm. The super oxygenated atmosphere, which has helped fuel the growth of the insects,
the Arthropods, is highly volatile. A lightning strike could trigger an explosion. The clock is ticking for the swamp. The rising water levels suit one group of hunters. Amphibians. They've continued thriving over the last sixty million years. Their thin skin still restrict them to the water's edge, but they're now powerful predators with a devastating pair of jaws, ready to ambush anything that wanders within reach. The homeless spider tries her luck further inland.
But other Mesothelae fill the forest floor and they don't like to share.
Neither does Arthropleura. He's a distant relative of modern millipedes, but as long as a car. He can rear up, tall enough to look you right in the eye. Although he's vegetarian, his strong jaws could still deliver a nasty bite. With rising waters, Arthropleura's foraging leads him into dangerous territory. In this clash of the titans, the Arthropod's armour is his best defence. Unless it gets split. Impaled, his soft innards provide a feast. The lightning storm is building, moving ever closer. Just in time, the spider finds another hole. A Petrolacosaurus is evicted, but reptiles don't need burrows to avoid danger, they have speed and stamina on their side.
Meanwhile, the spider starts to turn the hole into a hunter's lair. Night falls. And Mesothelae settles into her new silk-lined home She tests the new trip lines. They're already picking up vibrations from outside. The storm is very close now. Lightning strikes ignite the oxygen rich air. The giant dragonflies are forced down from the canopy to seek shelter below. An unexpected windfall for the water predators. Amid the chaos, Mesothelae seems safe
in her bunker underground. A huge fire, ignited by lightning, has devastated Mesothelae's neighbourhood.
There are no signs of life above ground. However, a Petrolacosaurus managed to outrun the flames. But now he heads right into the spider's lair. Mesothelae's hole was at the centre of the lightning strike. The reptile gets a spider barbecue. The era of the giant bugs is coming to an end. The climate is drying and the atmosphere is losing oxygen. The monster insects and spiders can't survive the change. But with their efficient hearts and waterproof skin, our versatile ancestors flourish in the new dry climate. Evolution takes over. Lacking restrictive armour means the reptiles can start to make it big.
Their muscles and bones broaden and extend. Their bodies mushroom into huge new shapes and forms. Our distant ancestors have come a long way. They've now conquered the land. The world's first giant reptiles have arrived. But they're not related to dinosaurs. Their descendents will be of a very different kind. Reptiles have now spread all across the globe. Edaphosaurus bask in the early morning sun. They're three metres long, as big as hippos, and, like them, they're vegetarians. Life in their new Permian home is a constant battle with the elements. The climate swings between seasonal extremes. From burning summers, to freezing winters. A new species of plant has evolved, able to withstand this cold, dry atmosphere.
Primitive conifers. In this harsh world, creatures need ways to regulate their body temperature. Edaphosaurus are sluggish autumn morning chill, but they'll soon warm up. Thanks to the huge sail on their backs. Their backbone has tall spines connected by a thin membrane of blood filled skin. This large surface area can lose heat fast, if the Edaphosaurus need to cool down. While to heat up, they simply turn their sails towards the sun, like a solar panel. Amazingly, these strange sailbacks are related to us. They're part of a very special group of creatures called mammal like reptiles. It's down to them that we have control over our body temperature today. But Edphosaurus aren't the only sailbacks, and now their biggest enemy is one of their own kind.
This is Dimetrodon, a vicious carnivore. The biggest reptile on Earth. She'd normally attack adult Edaphosaurus, but today she wants to avoid injury. She's pregnant and almost ready to lay her eggs. She finds a smaller, softer target. This was only a mock charge, a tactic to disperse the group and expose the vulnerable young. The panicking Edaphosaurus flush their sails with blood, flashing an eye spot to distract the predator's attention from their vulnerable head. But Dimetrodon can see through their disguise. She locks on to her victim. As well as her sheer size and power, Dimetrodon has a killer edge.
As a mammal like reptile, she's evolved specialised teeth. Incisors shear off chunks of flesh. Serrated canines cut and slice. We humans have inherited these same meat eating teeth. We have a smaller version in our mouths today. The young Edaphosaurus didn't stand a chance. This is a crucial kill for the Dimetrodon. Before she lays she needs to eat enough to last her for the next seven months. To boost her babies chances of survival, she's evolved a basic form of parental care. Guarding her eggs. But the smell of blood has attracted more Dimetrodon. Highly aggressive males. The female knows better than to defend her kill.
By the time the group has finished there'll be nothing left but bones. While lions today consume seventy per cent of a carcass, Dimetrodon eat ninety. But they'll only eat intestines after shaking out the waste inside. Dung is one thing a Dimetrodon can't stomach. The female has built a nesting mound of earth and wood. Inside, she digs a deep burrow. And starts to lay her eggs. She covers her brood carefully, ready to begin her guard duty. Egg thieves lurk in the shadows. Like this carnivorous amphibian. But he's too small to make a full frontal attack.
He'll have to bide his time until the female turns her back. The mother must also constantly monitor the nest's temperature. Temperature control is vital for reptiles even before they hatch. The mother piles on more earth if the babies are too cold. And will remove a layer if they're too warm, otherwise the babies will die. It's going to be a long seven months. As autumn turns to bitterly cold winter, the landscape is transformed. Still the female keeps her vigil, getting weaker all the time from lack of food. Until finally winter melts into spring. With the warmer weather, the Edaphosaurus laze beneath the conifers, shading their sails from the sun to avoid overheating.
But there's much activity at the nesting mound. And it's not the mother who's digging. Another female is desperate to lay her eggs. If she takes over the mound, she'll dig out and kill the incubating young already inside. The resident mother may be weak, but she won't give up her nest without a fight. It's a battle neither can afford to lose. Next morning, just one female remains at the nesting mound. It's the resident mother. She's managed to wrestle off her rival. But not without a sacrifice. She won't be able to defend her eggs or herself for much longer. And the thieving amphibian is poised to seize his chance. As summer arrives, the Edaphosaurus are thriving in the heat.
The young have grown and test out their newfound strength.
But the mother Dimetrodon has reached the end of hers. So weak, she's helpless as another intruder attacks her nest. Luckily this large male has got his teeth into something more substantial than her young. The amphibian. The precious eggs are safe and ready to hatch. The mother can hear them squeaking. She's achieved her goal. But at this moment her maternal bond is severed. Unlike her mammal descendents, she won't nurture her young.
Her instinct now is to save herself, by finding food. Without their mother's protection, the babies will have to be ready to go it alone. They take their first steps into a perilous world and must make a mad dash for the safety of the trees.
A danger in a familiar form awaits them. Adult Dimetrodon are cannibals. Not all babies are helpless. Some already instinctively know how to defend themselves. They roll in dung. Something the adults can't stand. Repelling their pursuers long enough to get a head start. One adult is driven on by hunger and desperation. The mother. She'll weed out weaker babies straight away, which helps the strong ones and her species as a whole survive.
And now the reptiles evolve to tighten their grip on land. Their legs straighten and lengthen, holding them more upright and giving them speed.
Their backbones and muscles get stronger and they even start to look like mammals. To house a larger brain their skull bones expand into an enormous head. And out of their draw thrust huge, sharp teeth. A new age of specialist reptiles had dawned. Next time on Walking with Monsters, we enter the world of the first terrifying sabre tooth, but find it always size that counts. And we meet one of the most successful reptiles of all time who face a perilous journey. Back to the dangers of the water.
Labels: Walking With Monsters
How It's Made - Crop-dusters
Crop dusters are airplanes Specially outfitted for aerial spraying. Farmers use them to seed fields And apply pesticides and fertilizer. The aquaculture industry uses them to feed fish, And emergency crews fly them to spread retardant on forest fires And dispersants on oil spills. Depending on its size, A crop duster can carry up to 2,700 liters Of liquid or dry material. The plane is designed to be able to swoop down low To accurately cover
the target spray area. At the factory, they manually weld Lightweight aircraft-grade steel tubes To construct the frame of the fuselage.
Next they use spring-loaded fasteners To affix aluminum panels to the sides. An anti-rust coating turns the aluminum golden color. All the plane's aluminum parts require this coating, Because many of the chemicals crop dusters carry Are corrosive. The tank that holds those chemicals is called a hopper. The factory molds it out of many layers of fiberglass, Which is deliberately transparent. This enables the pilot to see at a glance Roughly how much chemical remains. Inside each of the plane's wings Is a row of vertical supports called webs. To make each web, they lay a soft aluminum sheet on a mold, Place a rubber mat on top, then load the assembly into a press. A built-in water bag distributes the pressure evenly.
This helps form the aluminum sheet perfectly. Next they soak the web for a half-hour In molten sodium chloride At more than 900 degrees fahrenheit. Then they immediately submerge the web in lukewarm water. This triggers a molecular reaction That hardens the aluminum. Each wing contains 32 webs. Technicians line them up in an assembly fixture In between the wing's horizontal beams called spars. Once they've riveted the webs to the spars,
They cover the structure with aluminum panels Using spring clamps for now. The panels have holes in them To allow regular inspections of the structure inside.
After riveting the panels, Technicians screw covers onto the inspection holes. They also seal the seams between panels with liquid rubber So chemicals can't penetrate. Next they install the engine and the propeller, Which ranges from 750 to 1,400 horsepower. The prop has from three to five aluminum blades. Now the equipment that releases the chemicals from the air. For spraying liquids, they hook up horizontal pipes Lined with spray nozzles
called booms. To apply dry chemicals or disperse seed, The flight crew detaches the booms And installs a large stainless-steel funnel Called a spreader under the plane's belly.
At release time, The pilot opens a door at the bottom of the hopper, Enabling the wind to draw out the contents Through the spreader. To spray liquids, a wind-driven pump Moves the hopper contents to the booms. Technicians now assemble and install The instrumentation panel. To fill the hopper with liquid chemicals, They connect a pump to a valve on the side of the crop duster. For dry chemicals, they just lift the hopper's lid And fill her up.
How It's Made - Corn Whiskey
More than three centuries ago, American bootleggers made corn whiskey by moonlight To avoid being detected by the tax authorities, And so this whiskey became known as moonshine. Today, that whiskey has emerged from the shadows of history And is produced legally, but people still call it moonshine. It was the nectar of outlaws -- Clear, fresh corn whiskey that's 50% alcohol, And centuries later, it still has a potent appeal. In Virginia, They still make this whiskey the traditional way, Allowing corn to germinate in a process called malting.
They mix a small amount of the malted kernels With regular corn in a big tank, Then funnel the mix into a mill. Inside this mill, automated hammers grind the mix To a cornmeal consistency. This frees some of the starch And exposes it to enzymes from the malted kernels. Those enzymes convert the starch to sugar. They'll use some of this ground corn To make a big batch of yeast. They add it to water in a tank And boil it until it becomes a thick soup. Once it reaches the desired consistency, They allow it to cool to room temperature. They add yeast and blow air into the mix to help the yeast grow, Making this one big batch of liquid yeast.
In another tank, a ton of corn Is being blended with water and boiled. This breaks down more of the starch, converting it to sugar. Once cooled, they pump the mix and the liquefied yeast Into the fermentation tank. Over a period of four days, The yeast turns the sugar to alcohol. The process also generates carbon dioxide, Which is vented into the atmosphere. Every so often, the brewmaster scoops up some liquid And scrutinizes it. If it looks too thick,
The conversion of sugar to alcohol is not yet complete. But when the viscosity is just right, They pump the batch into a big copper still. It's just like the type used To make moonshine in the backwoods centuries ago.
They heat it to 82 degrees celsius. At that temperature, alcohol will boil, but water will not. As the alcohol boils off the mix, It's recovered through a condenser. The recovered liquid is 80% alcohol. Talk about a stiff drink. So they add water to cut it down to about 50%, And then it's ready to bottle. To make a darker whiskey, they steep it With what looks like a big tea bag. It's actually wood chips wrapped in cheesecloth. The whiskey absorbs flavor and color from the wood Over a period of about two months. When the whiskey takes on a golden hue, They transfer it into oak barrels. They allow the whiskey to age for two years in a hot room.
The heat causes the whiskey to expand, Causing it to absorb the flavor of the wood, But the pressure can also cause cracks in the barrels, So the brewmaster routinely checks for leaks. After the whiskey has aged, They adjust the alcohol content by adding a little water. The water is always softened and filtered to remove minerals That could affect the whiskey's taste. At the bottling station, Machinery pumps the whiskey into the containers. There's no spillage, and not a drop goes to waste. Machinery then twists on the caps For an airtight seal that preserves the aroma and flavor Of this old-fashioned corn whiskey.
At the next station, robotic arms grab labels, Apply glue to them, then press them onto the bottles. It has taken a combination Of down-home methodology and modern technology To prepare this old-fashioned American whiskey for market. And whether it's aged or fresh, This historic whiskey is sure to set the taste buds ablaze.
Caviar is made By processing the unfertilized eggs of certain species of fish. For those who love the taste but not the price, There's simulated caviar made of kelp, a type of seaweed. A fraction of the cost, It looks, smells, and tastes similar to the real thing. Unlike fish caviar, the source of kelp caviar is a plant, So it's fat-free, cholesterol-free, And has zero calories. This company makes its kelp caviar plain, Which is vegetarian, As well as in several flavors. Kelp is chock-full of vitamins and minerals And is especially rich in iodine. Being a marine plant, it's quite different from land plants In that its consistency is gelatinous, Which makes it ideal for producing little rubbery balls That resemble fish eggs.
At the kelp caviar factory, They begin production with kelp that's been dried naturally, Then ground into a fine powder. The other ingredients are salt, citric acid, And, if they're making a flavored variety, Natural flavoring in liquid form. They add the ingredients one at a time to water. The mixer blends them thoroughly for about an hour, Producing a thick, gelatinous liquid. They transfer the mixture into a pot Connected to an extrusion machine. The machine pumps the mixture Through what looks like a showerhead, Only instead of outputting a steady stream, It squeezes out droplets, Producing tiny kelp balls called pearls, Which look exactly like fish eggs.
The pearls drop into a coagulation solution. Besides providing a soft landing, This solution helps hold the pearls' shape. The pearls roll down a chute into waiting containers. The water drains out the bottom. Workers empty the containers into large colanders. Then they rinse and strain the pearls To ensure they're all a certain minimum size. Pearls that are too small Simply fall through the colander's holes. They weigh out a specific quantity And mix in
an all-natural stabilizer Required to maintain the pearls' texture and round shape. The factory's quality-control lab Tests a sample from the batch To make sure the ph level is just right. Careful ph control, coupled with pasteurization, Is why this product doesn't require any preservatives. At the packaging station, workers fill glass jars, Then twist a tin lid onto each one.
Then the jars go into a pasteurization machine. It heats the caviar to a high temperature For a specific period of time, Which kills off any bacteria. This ensures a two-year shelf life without refrigeration. Once opened, the product stays fresh in the fridge For three months. After printing each lid with a lot number For tracking purposes, All that's left to do is dress the jar in a cardboard label. Kelp caviar contains no artificial colors or flavors. Unlike certain types of caviar, It doesn't bleed color to the surrounding food, Even when baked. And while real caviar Is typically either black sturgeon roe or red salmon roe, Kelp caviar comes in additional flavors, Such as truffle, cognac, and wasabi.
Mega-machines cutting through solid rock...the transportation of multi-ton stone blocks... modern aircraft carrying millions of people each day around the world...and space shuttles sending humans to the stars. And liftoff of Endeavor...But are these examples of modern technology, or is there evidence that these incredible achievements existed on Earth thousands of years ago?
GRAHAM HANCOCK: You begin to have to ask yourself, are we missing part of the story?
Could ancient man have possessed knowledge far beyond that of our own century? And if so, where did it come from?
DR. ALGUND EENBOOM: I think that people in ancient times were visited by beings coming not from this Earth, and they gave us scientific technologies.
PHILIP COPPENS: It becomes ever more apparent that the possible answer of "Have aliens visited in the past?" could be a potential yes.
Millions of people around the world believe we have been visited in the past by extraterrestrial beings. What if it were true? Did ancient aliens really help to shape our history? And if so, what if there were clues left behind, sometimes hiding in plain sight? What if we could find the evidence? Saqqara, Egypt. Located roughly 20 miles south of Cairo, it is home to the world-famous step pyramid of King Djoser. Dating back more than 4,000 years, it is the oldest of Egypt's 97 pyramids. Saqqara is also famous for being one of Egypt's oldest burial grounds, earning it the nickname "City of the Dead." It was here, in 1891, that rench archeologists unearthed an ancient tomb containing the burial remains of Pa-di-Imen, an official from the third century BC.
Among the various items discovered was a small wooden model of what appeared to be a bird, lying beside a papyrus bearing the inscription: "I want to fly." The artifact was later sent to the Cairo Museum, where authorities placed it alongside several other bird figurines. The model sat largely unnoticed, until 1969, when Egyptologist Dr. Kahlil Messiha was examining the bird collection and noticed that there was something very different about the Saqqara bird.
DR. UWE APEL: It's interesting because on one hand, clearly, it should look like a bird because it has eyes and has a typical nose of a bird. On the other hand, the wings are clearly not bird wings.
DR. ALGUND EENBOOM: To the middle of the rim, you see this wing a bit thicker. In this region, the lift-up is the highest. The whole thing becomes thinner to the, um, end of the wings. And those wings, uh, model down. And this is a very modern aerodynamic design.
APEL: Then the other point is, birds have no rudders. Because a bird does not need a rudder because of its aerodynamic architecture. And so, there is the idea they are not representing birds, but flying machines, or aircraft.
Could the ancient Egyptians have possessed the power of flight? In 2006, aviation and aerodynamics expert Simon Sanderson built a scale model of the Saqqara bird five times larger than the original to test that possibility. We're running at a constant speed, slowly increasing the angle of attack, and then measuring the forces which it's producing. That way, we can learn about its flight characteristics. At ten degrees, we're producing
four times weight and lift. So, it actually would be flying now. That's good.
EENBOOM: Tests shows the Saqqara bird is a highly-developed glider. And this is a design we use today.
During the Sanderson tests, it was discovered that the only thing preventing the Saqqara bird from achieving flight was the lack of a rear stabilizing rudder, or elevator, needed to maintain balance. Is it possible that the Saqqara bird ever possessed this critical component?
APEL: What is, uh...missing is something like an elevator, but if you look at this feature here, then we may interpret that something like an elevator was connected here, but was lost during history.
Computer models seem to confirm that the Saqqara bird is certainly airworthy. But there is another problem to consider: launching a glider. Modern methods require the use of a towplane that pulls the glider into the air, then releases it when a proper altitude is reached. So, how might the ancient Egyptians have launched the Saqqara bird? The scientifics of Egyptology told us that such a bird could be powered off by catapults to fly.
And, uh, we had high acceptance by Egyptian scientists.
The idea of using a catapult does have a contemporary parallel. Many of today’s glider enthusiasts employ a bungee cord system to launch their sail craft into the air. But if the Saqqara bird is capable of flight, where would ancient Egyptians have acquired such technology?
EENBOOM: I think that people in ancient times were visited by beings coming not from this Earth, and they gave us culture and scientific technologies to improve our life on Earth coming from the primitive to a higher developed culture.
ABEL: If ancient cultures would be able to produce any really flyable machine, they would be far more advanced than we believe today. It changes our... our viewpoint of ancient societies.
COPPENS: It's a fact that our ancestors were more intelligent and had more technological superiority capabilities than our history books give them credit for.
HANCOCK: You begin to have to ask yourself, "Are we missing part of the story?" And honestly, I think we are. I think there has been a forgotten episode in human history. And, uh, we're a species with amnesia. We don't really remember who or what we are.
ROBERT BAUVAL: I haven't been convinced that there is evidence that supports an ancient visitation. But there is no reason why not, and I think to shut oneself to that possibility is a mistake, mainly because there are so many anomalies that we can't explain.
7,000 miles from Egypt, the dense jungles and rugged mountains of Colombia contain a vast number of archaeological sites. Many treasure hunters believed the legendary City of Gold, El Dorado, lies hidden here somewhere under a thick canopy of trees. While the mythical metropolis has never been found, early in the 20th century, tomb-robbers searching along the Magdalena River stumbled upon a gravesite dating back 1,500 years to a pre-Colombian civilization known as the Tolima. Among the funerary objects found there were hundreds of small two- to three-inch gold figurines.
GIORGIO TSOUKALOS: Many of those looked like insects and fish. However, out of those hundreds that they found, they also found about a dozen that are eerily reminiscent of modern-day fighterjets. They have a triangular shape. They have an upright tailfin, stabilizers... and a fuselage. And they have nothing in common with anything similar in nature.
Could these gold objects really be proof that Earth has been visited by ancient aliens?
APEL: One of the objects shows a typical swept wings, like with a modern aircraft. And if you compare it to something like a space shuttle, you see that the basic wing shape is very similar to wing shapes for high-speed
aerodynamic bodies like a space shuttle is.
COPPENS: There is not a single insect in the world which has got its wings at the bottom. Now, when you exclude the possibility that it's an insect, one of the things which remain is the fact that this is actually, yes, what it looks like: a plane.
In 1997, German aviation experts including Algund Eenboom and Peter Belting, set out to prove the speculation by building a scale-model replica of the gold flyer, fully equipped with landing gear and a working engine.
EENBOOM: It was rather simple, because we don't need to put much parts to this shape because this shape is perfect. Everything was already done by the native people 2,000 years ago.
TSOUKALOS: They did not add an inch or remove an inch. They just essentially blew the little thing into a larger size. I mean, this is sensational that pre-Colombian culture knew about aerodynamics.
Once completed, the remote-controlled flyer took off down a makeshift runway and flew.
COPPENS: When you see this thing taking off, you really feel that this is the real deal. It was a very successful test and showed us how perfect ancient people were working out aerodynamic design. What it shows you that there must be something happened. We are not quite sure how it did, but that it did. This is applied science. This isn’t just thinking somewhere. This is people going out there and making sure and proving, what I still see, anybody can see this, that this is real. This is genuine. This little thing, which sits in a museum, could fly.
TSOUKALOS: So we have two examples from opposite side of the planet, and both examples are aerodynamically sound and they fly. So, to suggest that all of this is coincidence... I mean, after a while, even coincidence
no longer makes sense.
BILL BIRNES: Could the ancients have seen actual entities, like ancient gods, ancient astronauts, actually flying around in what amounted to modern aircraft?
The answer to these questions may be found in ancient documents that describe flight patterns, aircraft specs, and even aerial battles in remarkable detail.
Over the past 50 years, NASA has sent astronauts into space inside large rockets. This method has been described by some as simply "putting a man on a large firecracker and lighting the fuse." Man's ability to travel farther into space will require more advanced propulsion systems. Several are being researched by NASA.
ROBERT FRISBEE: There are a wide variety of advanced propulsion technologies that are being actively developed and studied by NASA and other researchers. A really exotic version of that is to use a launch-assist catapult,
use technology derived from the magnetic levitation trains to build a maglev sled that carries your rocket, gets it up to about Mach 1, and then launches the rocket from it.
While these futuristic propulsion systems seem like something out of science fiction, ancient alien theorists believe past civilizations possessed these same advanced technologies. They point to a number of cultural myths that describe sky people coming to Earth in fire-breathing dragons, or metallic-looking machines as proof of extraterrestrial visitation.
DAVID CHILDRESS: In my mind, legends and myths are based on something real. And while they've been "mythified" and exaggerated in many cases, in my mind, some core of truth here in that people really were flying in airships in ancient times just like we do today.
But might these airships have reached Earth using the same type of propulsion systems we use today? The answer may be found deep in the Indian subcontinent. India-- over 1.1 billion people crowd its modern cities and rural townships, speaking hundreds of languages, and practicing a number of different religions. India is considered one of the oldest civilizations with settlements dating back over 1 1,000 years. It is also home to several of the oldest records of ancient technologies. Ancient Sanskrit texts, dating back as far as 6000 BC, describe in varied but vivid detail flying machines called "vimanas."
EENBOOM: Vimanas are airplanes, and they are powered by some jet engines. This seems to be true because all the description of the flight behavior: "elephants ran away in panic." Grass was thrown out because there was a lot of pressure from behind those vimanas. So that we can say this is a description of the spaceship.
Although mainstream historians believe the vimana texts are myths, many of the documents contain passages that seem to describe modern machinery and technology.
CHILDRESS: The Vymaanika-Shaastra goes into metals that are used in these craft. It talks about electricity and power sources. It talks about the pilots and the clothing they have to wear. It talks about the food that they eat. It talks even about the weapons that are kept on these airships.
EENBOOM: The flight menus of the vimanas are quite similar to the flight menus you find in the modern passenger flight business. Or when you go to the military jet engines, of course, they have also flight menus because it's necessary for a pilot to get knowledge about his plane he wanted to fly with.
MICHAEL CREMO: We also learned that these vimanas could be controlled mentally. And this is a technology that modern militaries are beginning to develop. Even today, with as advanced as we think we are almost every manifestation of an actual extraterrestrial civilization today would look almost like magic to us, where it has to do with technological electromagnetic systems that interface with coherent thought and organized thought.
And this gets into... people go, "Now, you're losing me here." But I tell people, I say, "Yeah, well, you gotta push "your boundaries a little bit ifyou're talking about a true interstellar civilization."
The Vymaanika-Shaastra, or Science of Aeronautics, indicates vimanas used a propulsion system based on a combination of gyroscopes, electricity, and mercury. Is this possible?
CHILDRESS: Mercury is an unusual element. Mercury is metal. It's also a liquid, and, uh, is a conductor of electricity. You know, there's unusual things you can do with mercury. You can put it into a closed gyroscopic device with mercury spinning around, and then you can electrify it. And studies have been done on this by NASA and by other scientists. And they find that you have levitation effects, antigravity kind of effects, and a spinning, bright light is part of it, too.
The Vymaanika-Shaastra suggests vimanas were powered by several gyroscopes placed inside a sealed liquid mercury vortex.
FRISBEE: Here's an example of a little kid's gyroscope. You spin it with a heavy wheel around a central axis. Well, a gyroscope seems to do a lot of strange things, even defy gravity. And it does this because it uses what's called rotational, or angular, momentum. And it wants to keep a particular orientation on its spin axis, the center rod. If you push on that rod, it will want to "righten" itself up to its original orientation. It wants to keep that same angular momentum. Gyroscopes are used all over the place: in airplanes, in spacecraft, in submarines. This allows them to determine their position based on where they started. They can also use it for finding their velocity or even just the orientation of the vehicle in space. One of the texts talks about mercury rotating and driving some sort of a powerful wind, or a windmill effect. That might be some sort of what we call a "flywheel energy storage" where you have a spinning disc, and then you extract energy from it slowly. That would be the mercury. And then that could be used to drive some sort of a propeller, or what we'd call a ducted fan sort of system, like you have in a hovercraft. Mercury would be quite good for that, because it's a high density, so you'd have a small package for your power plant, and that's always good when you're building an aircraft.
Flywheel energy storage systems, however, tend to lose power quickly. To navigate across space, its size would have to be enormous.
FRISBEE: They're fine for use by power companies for load-leveling. You put energy in when you don't need it. You get energy out when you need it. But they're setting on the ground. To have something light enough to actually fly, it's not at all clear that this would be a practical device. Now, maybe the people were trying to describe something that kind of looked like this to them. It might not have actually been mercury. It might have been some other liquid metal.
EENBOOM: The mercury vortex engine is perhaps a failure in the translation, because the vortex is not a material quite suitable to a jet engine.
GREER: The issue of how are these civilizations traveling faster than the speed of light is a fundamental question. It's a scientific application of things that have been studied for thousands of years and they're within the Vadas--the ancient Vedic teachings or other ancient teachings-- and it is there.
But if vimanas existed, could this prove there was a worldwide transportation network thousands of years before Columbus? The answer might be found on a mountaintop outside Mexico City. In the 21st century, modern transportation and communication methods have connected the world like never before. Products or ideas, no matter where in the world they may have originated, can spread to even the most remote countries.
A hip-hop hit in Brooklyn might make it big in Tokyo before it's even heard in Manhattan. This cultural interconnection has transformed the globe, but is it new? Mainstream archaeologists believe ancient civilizations such as those found in the remote Pacific Islands, Asia, and South America developed independently from each other. But ancient astronaut theorists contend that similarities in building styles and beliefs found in these cultures suggest that a worldwide trade route may have connected them to each other.
CHILDRESS: But just like we have airports today around the world, in ancient times with the vimanas, there would have been hangars for the craft, airports for them to land. And those airports would have been situated in strategic places around the world. And that's exactly what we see in remote places.
Could the complex set of lines covering Peru's Nazca plain or the mysterious plateau above Mexico's Oaxaca valley be evidence of runways for a worldwide air transportation system? One of the unusual archaeological sites in Mexico is a place called Monte Albán. That is also a mountain where the top of the mountain was completely cut off and leveled to make a very flat tabletop mountain. And there's a megalithic city there, too, that's extremely old. This was probably some kind of vimana airport.
EENBOOM: The vimanas could be a kind of missing link between the single cultures in the world, because they had just a very short time to flow from one part of the world to the other.
Legends of air travel are also found in ancient Africa and the Middle East. According to The Kebra Nagast, a holy book of the Ethiopians written sometime before the second century AD, the queen of Sheba was once given a gift of a flying carpet by King Solomon of Israel.
TSOUKALOS: The Kebra Nagast is one of the most important texts you've never heard of. The Kebra Nagast means The Book of Kings, and it is the most sacred book of the Ethiopians. In it, King Solomon is described--he had access to some type of a flying machine. And in that part of the world, the term "flying carpet" was always used very liberally. My question is, did they really mean actual flying carpets or was it another term with which to describe some type of a flying machine?
CHILDRESS: This was the original Chariots of the Gods that Erich von Daniken talked about--the flying magic carpets of the Arabian Nights stories. There are traditions in the Middle East of King Solomon having this airship and flying to different places in the Middle East, certain mountains which are known as the Mountains of Solomon. These may have been certain airports or landing areas for these vimanas. Nicholas Rourke, famous Russian-American explorer who traveled all through central Asia and Tibet in the 1920s, he, too, claimed that Tibetans had traditions of King Solomon flying to Tibet in this aircraft.
The Kebra Nagast also describes how King Solomon used his flying airship to make maps of the world. But could these have any relation to other ancient maps some believe may have been made by extraterrestrials?
HANCOCK: Some of these maps show the world not as it looks today, but as it looked during the last ice age. And this is really hard to explain. Everybody's heard of the Piri Reis map, but they've perhaps not heard of the Orontius Finnaeus map or-or the Mercator maps that show Antarctica in great detail hundreds of years before Antarctica was even discovered.
One of the most referenced stories of ancient aircraft is found in a surprising place: the Bible. In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet describes a flying chariot containing wheels within wheels and powered by angels. Although Bible historians suggest Ezekiel was speaking symbolically about the terrifying enemies facing Israel, could this be another example of an alien visitation and proof that prehistoric aircraft existed? In the story of Ezekiel's throne chariot-- this flying vehicle that doesn't seem to have any means of propulsion--if we thought of the word "angel" as representing something like celestial energy, it sounds much more like a spacecraft then, because some of the angels are going back and forth. Well, that sounds like flames. That sounds like propulsion. Some of them are wheel-like. Well, those sound like flying saucers. Our ancestors weren't idiots. Ezekiel saw something that was so frightening to him that he fell to his knees. Then, out of the glory of God, came this being in these bright clothes that looked like metal, and told Ezekiel, "All right, man, we brought you here. We want you to measure this monument, this building." And Ezekiel asks, "Well, why should I do this?" And the being says, "That's why we brought you here." And then you have 40 pages, in the second part of the Book of Ezekiel, with measurement after measurement after measurement of this gigantic building, in which, by the way, the glory of the Lord landed.
In the early 1970s, NASA scientist Josef Blumrich set out to disprove the theory that what Ezekiel witnessed was a spaceship. Josef Blumrich is your proverbial rocket scientist. He worked on the moon project for NASA and, from the mind of a rocket engineer, started to look at what was written in the first part of the Book of Ezekiel. And after many months of research, Josef Blumrich came to the conclusion that what Ezekiel described
in his eyewitness report, it was indeed a type of spacecraft.
Josef Blumrich would go on to write The Spaceships of Ezekiel. Several years later, a German structural engineer named Hans Herbert Beier sketched out a blueprint of the second section of the Book of Ezekiel, where Ezekiel is told to construct an open-topped building to house the flying chariot. Ezekiel's spaceship fit exactly into the temple that Hans Herbert Beier recreated. So what we have here is a proof by indication. Here we have a NASA engineer and a structural engineer-- they didn't know of each other's work-- and both pieces fit together like a puzzle. In any court of law, that's evidence that would hold up.
HANCOCK: I think that scientists feel uncomfortable with the notion of the lost civilization, precisely because the evidence for it is so ambiguous. It's not so in your face that it's immediately obvious. Uh, and, you know, the result is that science has not welcomed this idea. It'll take much more evidence before it's widely accepted.
TSOUKALOS: The god that I believe in doesn't need a vehicle in which to move around from point A to point B. Whatever was described in the Old Testament wasn't God, it was a misunderstood flesh-and-blood extraterrestrial whom our ancestors misinterpreted as being divine and supernatural. And why? Because of misunderstood technology. And that is the underlying thread that applies to all of the ancient astronaut theory.
But while ancient texts provide tantalizing clues to our past, physical evidence paints an even clearer picture. But will modern science finally prove the ancient astronaut theory?
FRISBEE: Did the ancient civilizations of Earth have access to advanced technology? Well, it seems like they had something going on.
In today's largest construction sites and quarries, huge mega-machines are used to dig, cut, and lift stone. These man-made creatures dwarf their creators and perform the work of thousands of men using modern hydraulic technologies. Without such equipment, builders could never construct modern skyscrapers. Yet, thousands of years ago, ancient civilizations were accomplishing the same work while constructing their monuments and temples using massive stones. These enormous blocks-- many weighing in excess of 100 tons-- would be a challenge even for today's engineers. Yet thousands of years ago, people cut them out of solid rock, transported them for miles and then lifted them precisely into place. But how? Did they cut these massive stone blocks with hammers, chisels, and copper wire, as mainstream archeologists suggest? Could they have lifted and transported them without a pulley system or the wheel? Or did ancient civilizations possess advanced technologies that have since been lost to science?
BAUVAL: At Giza, you just don't have the pyramids. Linked to the pyramids are what Egyptologists call valley temples. It doesn't take a rocket engineer that when you go there, there's something not quite right here. Whereas the pyramids are built with blocks of two to three tons, these temples, which are minute compared to the pyramids, are built with blocks of 100 tons and some of them 200 tons. Let me tell you what a 100-ton block is. If you take 100 family cars and you squeeze them together you get one of these blocks. First of all, let alone how they moved these blocks is why would they want to use 100-ton blocks? It simply doesn't make sense. There's no reason for them to want to build out of granite blocks the size of a semi truck. It's like, "Okay, let's do something, but let's do it as difficult as we could possibly do it." The reason why I am convinced that sophisticated technology was utilized in these ancient rocks is because, if we go to a stone quarry today and look at the scope of machinery required to accomplish similar things, those machines are huge.
Subscribers to ancient alien theory do not believe extraterrestrials built these amazing monuments, but instead provided some type of technological know-how or tools to our ancestors. Engineering expert Chris Dunn has spent several decades researching the construction tools used by the ancient Egyptians.
DUNN: We're normally taught by Egyptologists, that the ancient Egyptians had simple tools. They went to work every day using stone balls, copper chisels or copper tube and sand to grind holes in diorite and granite, extremely hard rock. And what I have actually gathered over the years is information that seems to actually argue against that notion that they had simple tools.
In Egypt, Dunn was able to examine ancient sites firsthand. What he found has proved to be both revolutionary and controversial.
DUNN: If you look at the Giza Plateau and all the stones that they actually placed in the Great Pyramid and the Khafre Pyramid and Menkaura's Pyramid, two and a half million blocks of stone in the Great Pyramid alone. They had to have had some efficient means of cutting them to size and putting them into place. They had to have had somebody on site who is saying, "Okay, I need a block this size," and then getting a block to them that size stat, like immediately.
While searching several miles north of Giza, at Abu Rawash, Dunn stumbled upon a clue when he spotted a granite block containing a deep cut.
DUNN: When I first saw it, I just didn't know what to make of it. And it was only after puzzling over it for days, and sometimes waking up at 3:00 in the morning scratching my head and thinking, well, how did they make this cut?
And finally, to realize that the only way that they could have actually cut that thing was with a saw that was 35 feet in diameter.
The idea that ancient Egyptians used giant saws provoked much resistance from mainstream archeologists. Dunn however, was convinced.
DUNN: As an ex-machinist I look for tool marks. I look for them everywhere I go. And I could be accused of, well, you know, if you’re going to look for something, you're probably going to find it because you're looking at it through a certain filter. Accepted, I agree. But the question is, why is it there? Clearly, to me, that is a machine mark. But there were no machines back then. So what do I do? I just go looking for more machine marks.
And they're all over the place. You find them on statues. You'll find them particularly in the Luxor Museum. There seems to be an impression on the side of Amon's buttock where it meets the bench, where there is an undercut. It was the slip of a tool. And therefore, it must have been a tool that was quite efficient.
Dunn also believes that the large depressions in the ground at Giza are not boat pits as is claimed by mainstream archeologists, but were actually used to hold the 35-foot saws. I speculate that they were actually saw pits, the saws were mounted in these pits, and that they ran the blocks through the saws before they put them in the Great Pyramid.
Another mystery involves how mega-stones were lifted up and placed into a precise position. What you find in modern construction is that to build big buildings, you need to build big instruments which help build these big buildings. And that is something which archeology has never addressed.
The three largest man-made stones in the world are found at the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek in Lebanon. Each weighs an estimated 1,000 tons-- or two million pounds. A nearby quarry contains an even bigger stone, known as the Stone of the Pregnant Woman. This giant rectangular block weighs an incredible 1,200 tons. To move it today would take the strength of 21 heavy-lift cranes.
PETER PALUTIKOF: Being in the construction industry, if a certain project is being constructed somewhere, particularly in mountainous areas, how would we carry this machinery, these cranes, and all that? They are so heavy that it's virtually impossible to take them to the site.
ROGER HOPKINS: This stone came off of a... a project in Palm Springs, where they had one of the largest excavators they could rent. They had trouble loading it into the truck. It's well in excess of five tons-- 10,000 pounds--small in megalithic terms, but basically what we can handle with modern machinery. We're supposed to accept that the people who built the pyramids did not have the wheel, did not have the pulley, did not have iron. In fact, they had nothing but brutal manpower and pieces of strings. The context does not fit the evidence.
HOPKINS: I've done pulling operations in upper Egypt. Thousands of people involved in the various stages of the project, moving very fragile pieces of stone that weigh hundreds, if not thousands, of tons. Yes, you can use ropes, but you're going to have to use other mechanical advantages.
But if ancient civilizations did not possess modern mechanical equipment, how did they move and lift mega-ton stones? Some believe they were given a technical advantage from extraterrestrial visitors. You've got to ask yourself, why would they try and do something that seems so incredibly difficult? The answer to why they would do that has to be that it somehow wasn't so difficult for them. It was easy.
TSOUKALOS: There exists one very concise description of how these massive stones were transported from the quarry to the building site. The master builders had the capability of putting some type of a white substance--paper-like substance-- onto the stones and they rode on it, and then they basically gave the stone block a push, and it moved by six feet as if by magic. Now, did that thing really move by magic? No, some technology was used.
CHILDRESS: That is part of the solution. In order to really move massive amounts of stone like that, they would have had to have been levitated-- somehow made weightless-- and then just moved through the air by some kind of device, perhaps even a handheld kind of device, like some beam weapon.
Ancient man's method of moving large blocks is only one mystery. Another surrounds the techniques of their stonemasons. How did prehistoric civilizations cut such intricately-designed patterns in solid granite?
Palm Springs, California. Master stonemason and sculptor Roger Hopkins uses a variety of advanced tools to cut and shape hard stones. Powered implements such as diamond-tipped wires and polishers enable him to fashion works of art out of huge granite blocks obtained from nearby quarries. Yet even with these high-tech tools, Hopkins cannot replicate what ancient civilizations accomplished thousands of years ago. Could these advanced engineering methods be the smoking gun that proves humans had help from alien beings?
HOPKINS: The precision on some of the work that I've seen is just incredible. It's possible to do by hand, but it would take an incredible amount of time. Plus, you have to have years of experience to be able to pull it off.
TSOUKALOS: In my opinion, the most tangible pieces of evidence that we have regarding possible extraterrestrial technology is when we look at the ancient stone-cutting techniques. Because in some instances, we ourselves today could not replicate what our ancestors allegedly accomplished with stonemasonry.
Puma Punku is a large temple complex located on a high plateau in Bolivia. Mainstream archeologists date the site from approximately 200 BC. The people who lived here had neither a written language nor the wheel, yet somehow they built one of the world's most complex structures. Ancient alien theorists view Puma Punku as clear proof of extraterrestrial influence.
TSOUKALOS: The ruins we find at Puma Punku are simply extraordinary. Puma Punku defies logic.
COPPENS: The interest of Puma Punku is not so much that the individual stones sorted together perfectly, but the fact that the stones, as such, are of such tremendous design that it requires concepts of mathematics which are far beyond anything we are actually using right now. Yet somehow in the past, somebody has made that for a specific purpose, and in a way which even computer programs today would kind of go, "How is this possible?"
TSOUKALOS: In the highlands of Bolivia, Puma Punku-- some of these blocks are over 40 to 50 tons each. What can you tell us about this?
HOPKINS: Boy, they... they had their stone-cutting abilities you know, pretty well fine-tuned for 5,000 years old. I mean, it's almost unbelievable. But these cutting planes that they have on here are very impressive. And some of the incise cuts-- see, like in here, all these interior cuts-- very hard to do. I mean, it would be difficult for us with our equipment to get that kind of precision.
TSOUKALOS: Let's talk a little bit about inside boxes. Ew, I was afraid you were gonna pull something like this on me. That is a hell of a piece of work. I mean, if we were to do something like that today, we'd use-- what they have, these computer-driven CNC machines which are... have diamond tips. And you have a template that, you know, the computer follows. And even then, it may not come out as perfect.
TSOUKALOS: Because even though you can tell -that obviously this piece broke off... -Mm-hmm. Nowhere in here can you see any imperfection. It's like... And by the way, when you're there, if you go with your finger over these edges, and you put a little pressure on your fingertip, you can cut yourself. This is how sharp the edges are.
But where could the ancient peoples have developed such technology? Is it really possible that extraterrestrial visitors provided different construction methods and tools? When I saw these blocks, I didn't really think that they were cut. The first thing really that I thought of was this appears very similar to Frank Lloyd Wright's textile block system of construction, which he used in his California houses in the early 1920s. Now what he did was-- he took concrete, poured it into molds.
TSOUKALOS: There actually are ancient Incan legends that suggest that they had the capability of softening the stone. At Sacsayhuaman, for example, we find these gigantic stone blocks, gigantic stone walls, where it looks as if those stones were molten, put into place, and then the stone hardened again.
Several hundred miles north of Puma Punku, Machu Picchu sits high atop the Peruvian Andes. Built by the Incas in the 15th century, this stone citadel was suddenly abandoned about 100 years later. Like Puma Punku, Machu Picchu also has signs of advanced engineering and possibly, molded stones.
DUNN: I can't help but think that whoever was behind this thought the process through from beginning to end. They didn't quarry the rock, and then decide, "How the heck are we gonna transport this?" They knew from beginning to end what needed to be done with whatever techniques and technology they were going to use, so that this was no big deal. In industry today, there's a kind of an adage: "Keep it simple, stupid."
Based on his experience, Mike Dunn believes the simplest way to build the great walls of Machu Picchu would have been to transport small rocks to the site, then melt them, and use molds to fashion the exact size and shape needed.
DUNN: That would solve a lot of difficulties of constructing this wall. First, you have your shapes, all the same size, each shape. So you're guaranteed that they would fit together, as opposed to being cut by different artisans.
HOPKINS: Melting the rocks, and then pouring them into place would take an incredible amount of heat just to spoil off pieces of stone. I have a stone torch which I use for sometimes shaping granite. And, I mean, it generates a temperature of in excess of 3,000 degrees. 3,000 degrees... that's a lot.
DUNN: When we look back at the ancients, and we see a technology that they couldn't possibly know, there's only two possibilities then: either God did it-- which we really don't think happened-- or some high-tech civilization from another planet came and showed them how to do it, then took their materials and tools and went back home. The idea behind that is that none of these ancient monuments were constructed or manufactured by extraterrestrials. It was us humans who built it with extraterrestrial technology.
HOPKINS: It's entirely possible that there were visitations, that they pointed out ways to do things, and that they wanted to leave some kind of a record. I mean, if you’re gonna leave a permanent record, the only way you can do that is in stone.
But if advanced beings from another planet really did bring their technology to Earth, might the ancient astronauts have left one of their tools behind?
The methods used to build huge megalithic structures such as Puma Punku and the pyramids of Egypt remain a mystery. But what about the tools used to build them? Where are they? And might they provide a clue as to how these enormous stone structures were created?
HOPKINS: A lot of the real ancient mysterious work was done at a time when there was no steel, and the copper they had was, yeah, they could harden it by cold-hammering it, but still, it wouldn't make a dent in rocks like basalt and granite. So they would have had to use, you know, much more laborious techniques, or they had some sort of advanced technology which escapes me, and I've been in the business 40 years.
DUNN: The tools and machines must have been equal to the task of actually building the pyramids... Crafting those statues to such a high order of precision... Crafting those boxes to a modern-day precision that we find in our inspection lab. And the big question: Where are the tools?
In the late 19th century, British archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie scoured Egypt, looking not for the biggest items, but the smallest. Petrie was absolutely fascinated by the technical achievements of the Egyptians, particularly the early Egyptians. He constantly was looking for how they made things, how they developed things, how they continued to sort of basically perfect their tools.
DUNN: We're normally taught that the ancient Egyptians had simple tools, and what Petrie brought out is information that seems to actually argue against that notion.
CHALLIS: This is an example of a drill hole. You can see the very fine lines on it. You can see the technology that's made to use it. Um, you can see how it's a perfect hole almost all the way through, but it tapers at one end. This is a fragment of a diorite bowl. It's one of the hardest substances, and you can see on this, on this fragment that there's a, a lathe mark, which is really interesting that they managed to make such a mark in such a hard material.
Among all the tools discovered by Petrie, however, one stood out from all the rest. While working inside the Great Pyramid, Petrie stumbled across a tubular drill made of granite. CHALLIS: Tubular drills amongst the ancient Egyptians were actually fairly common. I mean, Petrie found quite a few of them. Um, the interesting thing about the one that he found in Giza is that it's such hard stone that was so carefully carved, precisely grooved.
As you can see, it's got very, very fine markings on it, basically lines, literally a couple of millimeters apart. You can see it goes all the way round very, very accurately, hardly any waves at all. He was absolutely amazed by this. He kept returning to it throughout his life. His theory was that the Egyptians must have had access to diamonds or some kind of jewel that would have cut it. The interesting thing about Petrie's theory about how these drill lines are made was that he never discovered any diamonds in ancient Egypt. So where were they? Where did they go? We don't know.
If the ancient Egyptians didn't possess diamonds, how were the precision grooves cut onto the granite drill? Did Petrie accidentally discover a tool made by extraterrestrials? Machinist expert Chris Dunn attempted to answer this question by creating his own granite drill, using the known tools and techniques of the ancient Egyptians. In order to test the Egyptologist theory about how the ancient Egyptians drilled into granite, I took a tube and I fixed a crank on it, and actually used sand and silicon carbide, and after many hours of turning and drilling into this piece of granite, finally got deep enough that I could actually pop a core out. And the reason for that was to actually look at the surface, not just of the whole, but of the core.
The next step was to use a high-tech industrial microscope to compare his drill core to a latex copy of the one at the Petrie Museum. We have under the microscope a... the core that we drilled with the copper tube and sand. And as you can see, the surface of the core, the striations are not very clear. There's nothing really distinctive in terms of the feed of the tool marks using sand and, and copper. Now bringing the latex that they took of the core in the Petrie Museum, and we see something totally different. The striations are very clear, and they're quite deep. The devil is actually in the details, and the details of this particular artifact are what I consider to be a smoking gun in terms of what level of technology we give the ancient Egyptians credit for.
Intrigued by his discovery, Chris Dunn performed other experiments using his precision instruments.
DUNN: As you can see, this is a... an inspection surface plate, uh, probably ground to within 2/10,000 of an inch. That is one-tenth the thickness of a human hair. Now, I was really amazed when I went inside the serapeum and put these gauges up against the surface, and found them to be within what I consider to be the tolerance of these particular gauges. If you would put a piece of paper under one edge of that blade-- just a piece of paper--you begin to see that there was... would be light leaking through. And so, the precision on the inside of the granite boxes in the serapeum are, I would say, within 2/1,000 of an inch, which is incredible, because those tolerances can’t just appear by accident. It was very shocking. It was astounding to me to go to Egypt and, uh, go into a facility that was supposedly 3,000 years old and find the same kind of precision. I was amazed. I've seen evidence of the carvings on granite done in Egypt, and they did... they did it with little shards of, uh... of quartz. I believe they would have just scratched away the stone with that. That's... that's one possibility, but I mean, that's... that... that's a heck of a lot of work to do that. I mean, we're talking, somebody would devote years to doing something like that.
TSOUKALOS: But here is my point. Here we have a real-life stonecutter-- you. Yeah. You see this, and there's, like, smoke coming out of your head. Let's put it this way-- I had a client come in and ask me to do that, I wouldn't do it for any amount of money, because I'm not going to waste my life trying to replicate that.
But precision-cut stone monuments are not the only enduring Middle Eastern mysteries. Engineering experts have also examined the Bible story of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Just how did they survive for 40 years in the desert? Could they have possessed intricate machines with extraordinary abilities, used not for building, but for man's own survival?
In the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Exodus describes how the Jewish people suffered as slaves living in Egypt. Then sometime in the 14th century BC, the ruling pharaoh feared their growing numbers and ordered the killing of all first-born Jews living in Egypt. In an effort to save her son, one mother put her child in a small basket and set him adrift on the Nile River. That child was found by the pharaoh's family, who named him Moses and raised him as their own. As an adult, Moses discovered his true identity and demanded that the pharaoh free the Jews. When the pharaoh rejected him, Moses helped the Jews escape from Egypt. Historians believe that Moses and his people crossed the Red Sea and made their way into the Sinai Desert. According to the ancient text, God grew angry at the Jews for idol-worshipping and forced them to wander the desert aimlessly for 40 years before allowing them to enter Israel. During this time, the Bible says the Israelites survived by eating a single food source: manna. But what is manna? A naturally abundant food provided by God or, as some believe, something very different?
TUDOR PARFITT: In the Bible, it explains how the Israelites got from Egypt, where they'd been slaves, to the Promised Land. They had to cross the Sinai Desert. And inevitably, given that there was a lot of Israelites and very little growing, as it was a desert, they ran short on supplies. God stepped in at this point and sent manna from heaven. This took the form of some kind of seeds that rained down upon the desert, and then they were collected the next day. And they provided food for the Israelites, except Friday, when there was a double portion, because on Saturday, being the Sabbath, it didn't fall.
While the Hebrew Bible fails to give a clear description of manna, another ancient Jewish text provides an alternative clue. The Zohar is a collection of spiritual commentaries and interpretations of the Torah, and is central to the mystical Kabbalah belief written in the 13th century. The Zohar describes what is called the Ancient of Days as providing the manna, but what was this Ancient of Days? A man, a god or something else? The text speaks of different-sized brains, different-sized faces that were connected with different tubes and different light sources. Theologians have suggested that this is a description of God. However, when looked at from a modern perspective, what is described in the Zohar isn't necessarily a god figure, but rather a type of machine.
Intrigued by this information, two electrical engineers, George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, used the anatomical descriptions of the Ancient of Days to design what they called a manna machine. This really is-is the key diagram of the manna machine, as we built it up from the texts. For instance, one here is the mouth, but it's actually the air intake, which carries what is described as the breath of life. The air goes up this tube here, which is described as the-the brain of the Ancient One, but is actually a dew still. So that although we're talking about the great sea and the hairs of the beard and so on, at the same time, we were able to work out their relative positions and build out the specification of the machine, and find that we had something that was biochemically viable. The machine took in moist morning air and condensed it in the part of the machine that looked like a Plexiglas dome. From there, it mixed with an algae culture. The culture was treated with energy, such as a strong laser light, in order to speed the growth.
DALE: Of course, it needed energy for cultivating the algae. And this was produced, we postulate, in a small nuclear reactor, which would produce both heat and light as required. (translated): The manna machine was a very dangerous device. We suspect that the reactor that powered the machine was transported in the Ark of the Covenant.
TSOUKALOS: We have multiple references in the Bible that whoever came close to the Ark of the Covenant and didn't know how to operate it was smitten to death. And sometimes people, after they encountered the Ark, started to lose their nails and started to lose their hair. So we have evidence of some type of radiation poisoning which was in direct correlation with the Ark of the Covenant. And so, the Ark of the Covenant housed an extraterrestrial device which was given to the Israelites during their 40-year wandering through the desert.
The manna machine is believed to have supplied a highly nutritious form of green algae, or chlorella, as its food source. It's yet another theory supported by modern science.
DALE: We found that work in the field of space travel had already been done, where the green algae-- chlorella-- was bred in tanks and fed to people living in a closed environment and kept them alive.
Research studies done by NASA in the 1960s and 1970s established that human life could be sustained for extended periods of time by consuming chlorella algae and nothing else. If it's possible for astronauts to survive on algae, could the Israelites have done the same? (translated): The manna machine was a sensitive device. In order to function properly, it had to be cleaned once a week. On that day, the machine was taken apart and cleaned, so it's possible that the Sabbath we have today actually originated from cleaning this machine.
DALE: One theory that one could put forward, of course, is that the machine, although they knew how to maintain it and make it produce the manna, that it did after a time pack up, not work anymore. And that was why they came out of the desert.
But if the Israelites' survival depended upon the manna machine, where did they get it? Some believe they had stolen it from the Egyptians prior to their exodus. Others suspect extraterrestrials gave it to them as a humanitarian gesture, to prevent their starvation in the desert. Eitherway, the answer, like the Ark of the Covenant, seems lost to history. Today, scientists have successfully pioneered a process that produces a substance high in protein by means of solar energy, water vapor, and chlorella algae. Could this be a duplication of alien technology from thousands of years ago? They actually built a machine, a machine based on algae culture producing some type of super food. And we can find a similar type of technology described in the Zohar. Is history repeating itself?
DALE: One of the big questions is: Where could the machine come from? And I suppose there are two answers to that. Either it was built on Earth, which is a theory I can't really subscribe to. The other question of course is that it might have come from outer space somewhere. Now, that's quite a big leap of imagination, but of course the interesting part is that it actually produces food as is used by a spacecraft.
If the ancient world contained manna machines, giant mega-saws, and sophisticated aircraft, what was the energy source for all of this technology? The answer may be hiding in plain sight. Of all the ancient structures located around the world, perhaps none is more mysterious or as enduring as the Great Pyramid at Giza. At a height of471 feet, the Great Pyramid stood as the tallest structure in the world until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889. But while other pyramids and temples contain walls filled with hieroglyphics describing their purpose, the Great Pyramid lacks even a single marking. What was its function? Why was it built? And what secrets remain hidden inside?
BAUVAL: Nobody has been able to explain the interior design of this pyramid. It simply doesn't make sense, according to our logic. You have narrow tunnels that you have to crouch. You emerge in grand galleries that are nine meters high. You have chambers that are made of granite, where granite doesn't come from in the area. You have to ship the granite by barges 600 miles away.
TSOUKALOS: It's an anonymous site. Not a single inscription. Not a single hieroglyph. Not a single anything. It's just there.
DUNN: Some people speculated that it was a temple and an initiation chamber, where people would go to the king's chamber and become enlightened. There are anecdotal reports about people who have been inside the pyramid and have come out absolutely shaken and... because it was haunted. Egyptologists believe that the pyramids were built to bury the dead pharaoh. The problem with the accepted view is the fact that not a single dead pharaoh's body has been found inside a pyramid, even when the pyramid was completely sealed, i.e., not a single grave robber could have entered it. The Egyptologists say it's to conceal the body. Well, why advertise it? I mean, there's nothing more visible than a pyramid for miles. And to this day, you would have thought, in this modern age, with all the knowledge we have, we should be able to explain this pyramid. We cannot explain this pyramid.
Engineering expert Christopher Dunn has been on a personal quest to unlock the secrets of the Great Pyramid since the late 1970s. According to him, there are specific clues in the design and construction of this mega-monument that can help answer exactly why it was built.
DUNN: When you look at the Great Pyramid, and look at the culture that built it, they're brilliant, brilliant engineers. In fact, a lot of engineers say we couldn't build the Great Pyramid today. And it was built, supposedly, 4,500 years ago. And it was built to the precision of a machine. When I started to do the research and I examined the Great Pyramid with the eye of functionality, um, it was built like a machine. Perhaps it functioned like a machine.
The interior design of the Great Pyramid features four inclined air shafts emanating from the king's chamber and the lower queen's chamber. Like the Great Pyramid itself, their presence and purpose cannot be easily explained. The difficulty of building those shafts is incredible. It's a bit like building a chimney at an incline across a house. I mean, as a construction engineer, it's a nightmare.
In 2002, a team of engineers and Egyptologists sent a small robot into one of the airshafts connected to the queen's chamber. After 65 meters, a stone door blocked its path. A hole was then drilled through it. On the other side was a small room with yet another door leading further up the shaft.
BAUVAL: Since the discovery of the door, we've had every university, archeologist, anthropologist, nobody has been able to explain the purpose of the shafts.
But were these shafts ever open? And if they were, what might they have been used for?
CHRIS DUNN: The early explorers that went into the queen's chamber found that the walls were coated with a layer of salt. That kind of gelled with a theory that I had developed. You had a dilute hydrochloric acid solution coming down one shaft and hydrated zinc coming down the other shaft. And when they combined in the queen's chamber, they created hydrogen.
Hydrogen. It is one of the most powerful energy sources in the universe. In the mid-19th century, it was hydrogen gas that helped lift some of mankind's first airships, called zeppelins, into the sky. Today, it is used as a fuel to launch rockets into space. And if, thousands of years ago, the Great Pyramid was actually producing hydrogen, that would make it one of the earliest power plants known to man.
DUNN: The Giza power plant theory is essentially the drawing of energy from the Earth through the Great Pyramid, and converting that energy into microwave energy. So the chemicals actually come in through the shafts into the queen's chamber, and then they combine and mix and hydrogen boils off. The hydrogen is then lighter than air and it will flow into all the upper chambers. The energy from the Earth is then vibrating the whole pyramid. The vibrations are picked up in the Grand Gallery. So I proposed the Grand Gallery was a resonator hall and there are 27 pair of slots that actually go up the length of the gallery and then the resonators were mounted in there vertically.
CHILDRESS: Christopher Dunn is theorizing that with resonating galleries, the pyramid shot a microwave out of one of the shafts. And once you started up this power plant, it would have gone on for years, decades, even hundreds of years without stopping and creating the microwave. And that was a usable energy that could be captured.
DUNN: Now we can speculate where it goes from there. It could be collected in the immediate vicinity, or it could keep traveling off into space. We don't know. That's the mystery.
But if the Great Pyramid was actually a power plant producing energy, was it doing it alone, or was it part of a larger network? And are there any clues that could tell us what all of that energy was being used for?
Perhaps the 20th century's most influential inventor was a Serbian-American named Nikola Tesla. His patents on alternating electrical currents and distribution helped establish the commercial electricity industry. He also made contributions to robotics, radar, and computer science. But while Tesla can be credited for many scientific advances, one idea that fell short was his attempt to create a wireless electrical grid.
CHILDRESS: Tesla's project was to have these towers around the United States and around the world. And they would broadcast electricity like a television station.
FRISBEE: Instead of having to string power lines all over the place, you just transmit the energy through the air or through the ground. There were a number of demonstrations of this device for wireless power transmission during Tesla's lifetime. So, we know the device worked. It appears that he was using the conductivity of the ground or the air to carry the electric current. Basically in the air, if you put enough voltage on it, you'll get an arc across it. I mean, you see that all the time in a fluorescent light bulb. In the ground you have water, minerals, salts that can also carry the ions along, and therefore carry the electric current.
But while Tesla's power towers proved popular in theory, the project ended in financial failure. But could Tesla's idea of wireless electricity have been a rediscovery of an ancient technology? I believe that what Tesla was doing was trying to recreate what was an ancient power system that was used around the world, and the way they did this was the use of obelisks. Obelisks as monolithic, granite towers, which are one solid piece of crystal,
and the obelisks themselves were cut to special sizes and tuned like a tuning fork.
Could these ancient broadcast towers really have sent electricity up into the atmosphere? And if so, how was the electricity generated? Each of these obelisks would have required some kind of generating power station similar to what we have today. Electricity is created by rotating magnetic fields. So rotating magnetic fields generate AC power. The very first power station was built by Nikola Tesla at Niagara Falls. You've got to have some sort of power that's spinning the rotating fields, and in this case it would be water. So every obelisk would have had to have had a power station similar to like the one at Niagara Falls. It's generating power, but the obelisk itself is putting the power into the atmosphere, making it useable. And this is similar to Christopher Dunn's theory of the Giza power plant, because he believes that the Great Pyramid was actually sending a microwave beam to a satellite that was in orbit around the planet. That satellite then could have been taking microwave power and then it could transmit it again, in theory, to some other location on the Earth, such as, say, a remote island like Easter Island or something like that. From some of the descriptions of ancient flying machines, it's possible that some form of power beaming might have been used. And in fact, for a lot of the schemes that you see, it actually would make a lot of sense because you could put the power beaming station on a mother ship in orbit. You're just beaming energy to the vehicle, where it's absorbed and turned into propulsion thrust. It actually makes a lot of sense, because you're taking the energy system, the power system, off of the vehicle and locating it remotely.
Electricity... power tools... mega-machinery... and the ability to explore the heavens... Have these technologies been available for just the past few centuries? Or are they of ancient origin, only recently rediscovered? Were our ancestors capable of these incredible achievements? Or might they have come from another source, one much more out of this world?
CHILDRESS: Civilizations were much more advanced than we give them credit, and literally, as advanced as we are today.
BAUVAL: In my view, we need to take this seriously, simply because of the scale of the work. We're looking at monuments that took, perhaps, a century to build. Even today, we have difficulty in considering such a project.
DUNN: It just boggles the mind. And really, to look at those artifacts and to go back in time and say, "How did they do it?" we are kind of cracking the lid open a little bit and looking inside to try and see just what happened in our history. It's a question which is a scientific question. And you constantly have to ask it. And the possible answer of "Have aliens visited in the past?" could be a potential yes.
TSOUKALOS: It's a very specific reason why all of this stuff was built in stone: for posterity, so it would last. So that a future generation would have to stumble across these monuments. We are that society who can look at these ancient monuments and finally recognize that all of this stuff was built as a message for us to see that our past is way different than what we're being taught in school.
A son battles his father for the control of the universe. And seizes more power than any god ever had. This is the story of Zeus, Greek mythology's supreme commander. To us it's a myth but to the ancients it was reality. A way to make sense of a terrifying world. Some Greeks believed Zeus was the one true god centuries before Christ. And that nature's worst catastrophes were a sign of his wrath. This is the myth of Zeus as it was originally told, and the surprising truth behind it. If you control the sky you control the world. In Greek mythology that power belongs to one god...Zeus.
He reigns as the enforcer of justice, the master of men and gods. Zeus was the king of the gods but he was also responsible for dispensing justice both to the gods and to mortals on the Earth. This is something really cool about Greek mythology. Because one of the things that you were supposed to do as a Greek when you worshipped the gods was simply to do what was required to keep the gods from squashing you. As commander of the skies Zeus has the power of nature at his disposal. That gives him the most devastating weapon of all. The most powerful symbol of Zeus is the lightning bolt. This is what Zeus carries, it's his main accoutrement, and it's a thing that makes him the most powerful of all the divinities.
Attributing lightning to Zeus was a way for the Greeks to explain the unexplainable. In a time before science, mythology put faces on the forces that shaped the world. The Greeks used mythology to try and figure out why the world operates the way that it does. They didn't have scientific explanations yet for how the world came into existence or why lightning strikes here but not there, or why it strikes then and not some other time. The natural world was very frightening to them, so they associated it with the divine. These were symptoms of the gods' power that they could use to punish people who hadn't worshipped them properly... Zeus' command over nature would make him Greece's most feared god.
But how did he get there? What we know of Zeus begins with the writings of the ancient Greek author Hesiod, around 700 BC. His book, called Theogony, was the ancient Greek story of Creation. What the book of Genesis is to our own world. Theogony is Hesiod's attempt to make sense of the world, to bring order to it, by telling the story of a dynastic family rivalry that winds up in a well-ordered Cosmos that is the world that you and I know today. In the myth, Zeus doesn't start out as the king of the gods. He rises from obscurity to challenge his father for control of the universe.
And that won't be easy. His father is Kronos. He is king of the Titans, the most powerful gods in the universe. The Titans are an older order of Greek god. They're pretty rough around the edges, they're not too bright, they're also not very well civilized. As leader of the Titans, Kronos is expected to produce offspring, so he mates with his own flesh and blood, his sister and fellow Titan, Rhea. Incest shows up quite a bit in mythology. Among the gods there's nobody else at the beginning to have sex with so they end up marrying one another. There's an old time aristocratic idea that says that no one else is good enough for our family except only our family.
And the Greek gods definitely seem to ascribe to this kind of principle. These two Titan siblings, Kronos and Rhea, produced the next generation of Greek gods. Mythology's household names, the Olympians. Among them are Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. But they will not simply inherit the Earth, they must fight for it. Kronos was very worried about having children because he was concerned that his son would be greater than him and would supplant him. The father fears being replaced by the son, that's human psychology, I mean, go to Freud and... actually Freud found it in classical mythology. So this fear of losing your power to the next generation was real. If you had a kid and you had something worth taking at some point you needed to keep an eye on the kid.
So his solution to this problem was to swallow alive all of his offspring. As soon as his wife gave birth he would actually ingest them. Now, of course, since they're immortal, the children that Kronos swallows are not dead, they're just locked away inside of his belly. He's trying to control them and keep them from developing a power base so they might be able to overthrow him. To the Greeks who told the myth, this was an appalling act. Cannibalism was as deplorable then as now. We see the Greek authors giving voice to their fears through mythology.
Cannibalism, sacrifice, were horrible taboos, but when you project these things on to the gods it gives you a safe place to explore the consequences of what might happen. Rhea is horrified. All five of her children have been swallowed alive. Now she is pregnant again. But this time she has a plan. She sneaks away and gives birth in secret to a son, the future king of the gods, Zeus. But Kronos is expecting another child to swallow, so Rhea wraps a rock in a baby blanket and presents it to him. Without thinking twice he grabs the bundle and gulps it down.
So the plan of Rhea is put into place. Kronos has swallowed down the stone instead of Zeus. Zeus then as an infant is spirited away and is put in what the ancient mythtellers tell us is the folds of the Earth. Zeus has been saved by his mother's cleverness. It's a memorable story, but could that secret cave at the heart of the myth really exist? It seemed the ancients thought so. They believed Zeus had been born in the island of Crete...in this mountain cave. The cave on the island of Crete is perhaps the most important sanctuary for the veneration of Zeus.
It was considered as one of the possible places where the baby Zeus was kept hidden from his own father. Excavations at the cave have revealed that it was a major pilgrimage site for visitors from across the ancient world. It was a place that people would go to worship Zeus. How do we know? We've excavated thousands of dedications to Zeus, and ritual objects to Zeus from all over the Mediterranean. One find in particular ties directly into the myth of Zeus. Amongst the material remains were these cool shields that probably were along the walls and were put up there to indicate... the clanging of shields that the people defending Zeus used to muffle his crying when he was a baby, so that Kronos could not hear it.
A chosen son, hidden to save his life. For Christians and Jews, the story of Zeus' birth is very familiar. Many religious and mythological traditions have stories of sacred or divine children who are hidden away in order to protect them so that they can grow to adulthood and fulfill their destinies. We think, perhaps, of Jesus who is hidden away in the manger so that Herod will not be able to get to him. Or of Moses who is hidden away in Egypt. In the myth, Zeus quietly comes of age inside the cave.
He has a kind of training period there out of the eyes of Kronos, and is able to acquire his strength and develop into a man. Zeus spends his childhood preparing to fulfill his self-appointed destiny: To challenge his father and the Titans for control of the Universe. Zeus has escaped the fate of his siblings, who were all swallowed alive by their father, the Titan Kronos. Inside a remote cave hideaway he has matured into a fully formed god. Now he is ready to begin the epic power struggle he was born to wage to avenge his father's savagery.
To liberate his five Olympian siblings from his father's belly, and to seize control of the world from the Titans who now rule it. The stakes for him are tremendously high. If he succeeds he'll be master of the universe, but if he fails, he may well be the one who winds up down in Tartarus. Tartarus, the lowest level of Hades, and the ancient Greek equivalent of Hell. Tartarus was the part of Hades where the damned went, the people who were bad or committed offences against the gods on Earth would be sent to Tartarus.
If Zeus fails in his attempt to seize power from Kronos and the Titans, he'll be damned to this place for all eternity. But if he wins, he'll command gods and men from his throne atop Mount Olympus. In Greek myth, Mount Olympus is the towering home of the gods, but it's also a real location. It's the highest peak in Greece, rising nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. And it's a natural setting for supernatural powers. The Greeks really believed that their gods actually lived physically on Mount Olympus. It was important for them to actually have a sense of where heaven was, where the gods actually resided.
It is from his home base on Mount Olympus that Zeus engineers his rebellion against Kronos and the Titans. Zeus is gonna have to get others to come in and help him out so that he can achieve supreme power. This is the ultimate family feud. And so it is to his own flesh and blood that Zeus turns first. He knows his strongest allies will be his five siblings, the Olympians, now fully-formed adults. But still trapped deep inside Kronos' stomach. If they can be liberated, the Olympians could tip the scales in Zeus' favor, and help him destroy the Titans forever. He wanted to free his brothers and sisters so he concocted a potion.
Quietly, Zeus enters Kronos' lair and slips the drug into his nightly cup of mead. Kronos drinks it and becomes violently ill. First he vomits up the stone his wife had given him in place of baby Zeus. According to tradition, that rock is the cornerstone of ancient Greece's most sacred site, the Temple of Delphi, home of the Oracle. Delphi is a sanctuary in Greece where people would come from all around to consult with god; it was a direct phone line up to heaven, to ask the answer to anything you wanted.
To this day, thousands of years after the story was first told, the stone that Kronos supposedly vomited is still there. At the very centre of the Temple complex at Delphi is an egg-shaped stone that was understood to be the exact stone that played the role of being the substitute for Zeus that Kronos swallowed. And if you go there today, to the Temple of Delphi, the locals will still tell you that the stone that's there is the actual one that was in Kronos' belly.
In the myth, after throwing up the sacred stone, Kronos regurgitates Zeus' five siblings. And they are ready to join Zeus' revolution. What marks Zeus as a different kind of leader from those that have come before, is his intelligence. He's able to persuade and convince those around him that he should be leader, and he's able to build coalitions. Zeus now has his siblings by his side, but he still needs more muscle to take on the Titans. And there are some other estranged members of the family who are out for revenge.
Forgotten brothers of Kronos. The Cyclops, and the Hundred-Handers. But to find them Zeus has to go to Hell. Kronos had feared the powers of these Hundred-handers and the Cyclops so he'd locked them down into Tartarus. Zeus knew that if he could get their power on his side he could marshal it to his own ends. He goes down and talks to the Hundred-handers and says, "I will pay you great respect. "And I know that my father Kronos has mistreated you. "Now I've freed you and now you owe me. " And even they are moved and say, "Yes, great Zeus, we realize not only are you very powerful, "but you also know how to treat people well. "So we appreciate that and we will now fight on your side. " In gratitude for being liberated the Cyclops present Zeus with a gift, the power of lightning. Lightning is one of the most devastatingly powerful forces in nature.
When lightning arcs through the air, the air is briefly raised to a temperature that can be more than 50,000 degrees, that's five times the surface temperature of the Sun. The lightning bolt gives Zeus the power to rule the universe. With this lightning bolt, no one is going to be able to overthrow him. The battle lines are drawn. The Titans will fight from Mount Othrys, the Olympians from Mount Olympus. Between them lies the Plain of Thessaly. But this isn't just a mythical battlefield. Thessaly is actually, if we take into consideration the modern map of Greece, is the central part of Greece.
It's the biggest plain and the most fertile plain in Greece from ancient times to today.
Thessaly has a long, bloody history, stretching from the Greco-Persian wars of the 5th Century BC, to the World Wars of the 20th Century AD. And it is here that the ultimate battle of the gods will play out. Armed with a weapon of mass destruction and an elite fighting force Zeus braces for an Earth-shattering battle. And to this day, a real place may still bear the scars. Mythology's defining moment is now at hand. The battle between father and son is about to begin. It's the old guard of Kronos and his Titans versus the new blood of Zeus and the Olympians. The outcome will determine who controls everything. From the top of Mount Olympus Zeus sends a fury of lightning down upon his father's army.
The fighting shakes the Earth to its core. The only way we can conceive of this battle is simply worlds colliding. All the forces in the universe smashing together at once. You've got the Hundred-handers over on one side that are ripping off huge hunks of mountain and throwing mountains at the other side. From the Titans you've got a lot of just brute force and brute strength. They're able to take a punch and keep coming back over and over. It's an apocalyptic scene, and not entirely a myth. Experts have recently determined that a real event, just as frightening, actally happened in
the ancient world.
About 3,600 years ago, the Greek island of Santorini experienced one of the most devastating volcanic explosions ever. Its effects were felt as far away as California. The volcanic blast was the single largest seismic event on Earth in the last 27,000 years. To give you an idea of how massive it was, imagine a mountain about 3.5 miles tall being blown into the sky all at once. In 2006, scientists discovered that the Santorini eruption was even larger than originally believed. Excavations uncovered deposits of volcanic ash piled 20 storeys deep, blanketing a 30-mile
radius around the island.
Based on this evidence, it's now believed the eruption unleashed the equivalent power of 50,000 Hiroshima bombs. An explosion that powerful would have annihilated much of the Greek world. For the survivors, who knew little about how volcanoes work, it could only have been the wrath of the gods. When the ancient myth-tellers told the story of great cataclysmic battles that shook the Earth,
they weren't doing so in a vacuum. There had been massive seismic events that had happened in the memory of some of the earlier generations of Greeks before these myth-tellers had written down their stories.
As the clash of the gods plays out in the myth it appears Zeus is finally about to seize control of the universe. His powerful allies have tipped the balance and the Olympians are closing in on victory.
But the Titans have one last weapon at their disposal... From the depths of Tartarus they call forth a colossal beast, Typhon. Typhon is a tremendously strong, powerful monster that's challenging Zeus himself. It's a last gasp effort, and the final monster, the final challenge he has to put down in order to secure his reign over the universe. It is a supernatural death match.
A decisive struggle between good and evil. And it will all come down to the ultimate weapon. As Zeus and Typhon are engaged in this final epic battle, Zeus eventually gets the upper hand and wins via his lightning bolt. With one final assault, Zeus drives Typhon and his Titan allies down into Tartarus, where they are damned to spend eternity in a fiery abyss. According to the ancients, it was across the Mediterranean, in the island of Sicily that Zeus' enemies descended into Hell through the volcanic crater of Mount Etna. Local legend says Typhon is still inside and has been behind all of the volcano’s eruptions over the centuries. Greeks used this myth as a way of explaining why lava was constantly pouring out of the volcano. They explained that as either the remnants of Zeus' lightning constantly shooting out, or of the flames of Typhon who's still breathing just a little bit exploding flame out of the centre of the volcano.
It is also said that Typhon causes destructive windstorms. In fact, his name is the basis for the word "typhoon". But in the myth, the storm clouds are broken for the time being. Zeus' victory over his father makes him the king of the gods, the absolute ruler of the Universe. So goes the myth. But what is the link to reality? In 2003, at the base of Mount Olympus, a lost temple was discovered.
It was the centerpiece of an ancient city known as Dion, and it was dedicated to Zeus. Dion was a city that was built at the base of Mount Olympus and so it's very close to the home of the Olympian gods and goddesses and where Zeus lived in Greek mythology.
In fact, the name of the town, Dion, means Zeus. The Dion temple dates back to the 5th Century BC. The golden age of Greek mythology. Scattered around the site on marble blocks with unmistakable engravings - eagles. In ancient Greece eagles were the divine symbol of Zeus. But there's more. This headless statue was found in a nearby riverbed. Carved into its 2,400
year-old base are three words: "Zeus the highest". There's a debate among experts about what this reference to "the highest" means. Some believe the statuecould be a missing link between Greece's worship of many gods and the single-god philosophy of Christians and Jews. And that this find is proof that the Greeks were embracing the idea of one god on their own, before the arrival of Christianity. The Greeks sometimes identified that highest god with Zeus, after all the word Zeus in its dative form "theos" is where we get our word "deus", so there is an etymological reason
to understand Zeus as the highest deity.
Starting in about the 3rd, 2nd and 1st centuries BC we have different philosophical and theological schools that arise, and that start to propose a very strong view that there is only one god and that all the ancient stories and tales are actually just metaphors that reflect different aspects of what this divinity is all about. For the people who worshipped at Dion, it's clear that Zeus was different from all the other Greek gods. In fact, he may well have been the only one that mattered. In the myth, Zeus has achieved the absolute power he has long sought. But that power will soon be threatened
by an unexpected foe. The king of the gods is about to be betrayed by the person closest to him. Zeus has won his epic clash with the Titans. He now sits atop Mount Olympus as king of the gods
and master of mankind.
The ancient Greeks worshipped Zeus above all others, even though he was fatally flawed. The ancient Greek gods are very relatable. They have faults, they have strengths, they have weaknesses,
they have all the things that normal human beings would. In fact, when the Greeks, in these early times, think about their gods, one way of trying to understand it is that they see their gods as being a lot like you and I, just really, really big. According to the myth, Zeus has one very human weakness that threatens to be his undoing. An uncontrollable sex drive. Zeus likes the ladies.
That's one of the most endearing and enraging things about him. It's that he has this very, very human character that he never saw a girl that he didn't like.
Zeus will stop at nothing to seduce his conquests. He even uses disguise. Zeus visits mortal women in various guises. Whatever it takes to consummate the relationship. So in different tales, we hear of Zeus turning into an eagle, turning into a swan, turning into a bull, turning into all these different shapes, turning into human beings to mimic a woman's husband's face, to trick the women as best he can into having a union with him. A beautiful young goddess named Metis is the first to capture Zeus' attention. He takes her as his wife. Metis is a very attractive and appealing young woman
and the quality that really sets her apart is that she has practical wisdom.
In fact her name in Greek means "practical wisdom". When Zeus spies her he finds her very appealing. But Zeus' affection for Metis is overshadowed by a dark prophecy that threatens his grip on power. He is told that she will bear him a child who will one day seize his throne. Suddenly Zeus, like his father, must fear his offspring. Zeus is representative of this awful tradition that starts literally
from the dawn of time of sons destroying their fathers in order to take prominence. But Zeus vows that this time will be different, and he takes a drastic step to make sure of it. He swallows his wife...
Once again, family love falls prey to power. It's history repeated. But this horrifying act will make Zeus stronger and wiser. By swallowing her, Zeus internalizes Metis' cunning and prudence all at once. She becomes a part of Zeus. In a sense she's probably imprisoned in his stomach but he also takes on these greater qualities of intellectual ability. This to us seems a little strange but it's important to remember that for the Greeks, one of the places that some Greeks thought that they carried their wisdom and their ideas was actually in their stomach. So when Zeus swallows Metis
he takes her into the part of himself where really a lot of his best thinking was done.
With Metis gone, Zeus is in need of a new wife. And like his father before him, he finds one in his own family. His sister, and fellow Olympian, Hera. She's not like Zeus' earlier conquests. She's mythology's most powerful goddess. The king of the gods has met his match. Between Zeus and Hera we actually see a relationship which is between two people who are on some level equals.
So, in some of the conflicts between Zeus and Hera I think we can see as the Greeks culturally working out what would it look like if you had two people with equal power within a relationship.
She's the queen of the goddesses and she has wonderful beauty, she's supremely intelligent, she's mighty, but she's also exceedingly jealous because Zeus is always running after other women.
The king of the gods continues to step out with an endless string of sexual partners. He conceives well over 100 offspring with a host of lovers, both divine and mortal. If I'm not mistaken, Zeus never
has an encounter with a woman that does not produce a child. So in that sense, it's extreme virility, it's extreme power.
Zeus' ability to sleep with anybody matches a kind of fantasy of what ancient Greek males would hope or desire their lives to be. Men fantasized about such things and they thought if there was an all-powerful god out there he would surely act on those fantasies. Zeus' promiscuity provided a perfect way for Greeks to connect themselves to him. Every corner of the Greek world boasted of having its own hometown loved child. As Zeus' fame and power grow across ancient Greece, more and more cities and towns wanted to be associated with him.
And they therefore claimed that there was some kind of actual liaison between Zeus and some mortal woman within their family tree that then produces the offspring that produces the local ruling families. Evidence of this connection can still be found in cities throughout the Greek world. Athens, Thebes, Magnesia, Macedonia, all are named after children of Zeus. But there is one individual
who isn't happy about Zeus' abundant fertility. In the myth, his wife Hera, has had enough.
She vows to make the king of the gods pay dearly for his chronic philandering. She doesn't like to be humiliated in front of the other gods so she will take it out on her husband. Hera gathers the other Olympians together and lays the groundwork for a revolution. Hera goes to her fellow Olympian gods and says, "Why is Zeus in charge? "He is no more important or powerful than the rest of us. "If we all get together we can kick him out. " So in fact they rise up and they bind Zeus with chains.
Zeus awakes from a nap to find himself tied down. A prisoner in his own bed. It is the ultimate betrayal. A conspiracy carried out by the siblings he once saved. The gods' revolt was the greatest
threat that Zeus ever faced. There was never any sense that mortals could challenge his power. But the combined power of all of the Olympian gods really could have defeated him. This was indeed one of the most horrifying moments in Zeus' career. He was actually about to lose everything. But just when all seems lost help comes in the form of an old ally. The Hundred-handers.
When they hear Zeus is in trouble they come to his rescue breaking his chains as the Olympians run for cover.
Zeus survives de coup attempt. Now is time to exact his revenge. His wife Hera is sentenced to hang from the sky by golden chains. His son, Apollo, and brother Poseidon are condemned to hard labor. They are ordered to build one of the ancient world's most iconic monuments, the massive walls of Troy. It's another example of myth explaining the unexplainable. To the ancient Greeks,
the walls of Troy seemed too strong to have been built by man. So Zeus's punishment of Apollo and Poseidon helped explain their existence.
Their ruins survive to this day. In antiquity people thought it had been built by the gods, or some kind of divine intervention on behalf of the Trojans. In the myth, Zeus has dealt justice to those who crossed him. But it will be human beings who bear the brunt of his wrath. That wrath will arrive in the form of a massive flood. One that may even be linked to the Biblical story of Noah. Greece's most powerful god has survived a coup attempt. He dealt swift justice to the conspirators, but he's not through yet.
Now, mankind will experience the full measure of his rage. In ancient times, fear of Zeus' punishment kept a lot of Greeks out of trouble. When people did something wrong they would have to be very careful that Zeus did not smite them with a thunderbolt. They're many examples in Greek history of Zeus destroying entire cities and civilizations because he felt that they had overreached themselves, that they had blasphemed against the gods, that they had become too proud to be allowed to live any longer.
The Greek author Hesiod wrote that without the fear of Zeus' wrath humans would live like beasts and the weak would be in the hands of the strong. Zeus is the order bringer. Zeus is the bringer of justice and the bringer of civilization. When natural catastrophes occurred in the real world, the Greeks believed that they were sent by Zeus to punish evil men. Often stories were invented to explain what had made the supreme god so angry. According to the myth, Zeus' most frightening moment of wrath comes after he sees humans engaging in cannibalism.
Cannibalism was as important as it was in ancient Greek religion because they considered it to be so heinous. In fact, identification of eating human flesh is something that you would attribute to wolves or dogs but hardly to human beings. Zeus is no stranger to cannibalism. His own father Kronos once swallowed all of Zeus' siblings. When he is confronted with the sight of mortals doing the same thing he becomes enraged and vows to destroy the human race... with a catastrophic flood. Nine days and nights pass. The rain is relentless. And the Earth slowly drowns. The waters reach the peak of Mount Parnassus, which stands over 8000 feet high.
In all corners of the Earth, the human race perishes. When the rain stops only two mortals are still alive. Incredibly they have survived the storm by building an ark. A raging flood, an ark, and only two surviving humans. The parallels with the Old Testament are striking. It could be the Biblical flood of Noah, it could be Zeus' deluge, it could be similar sorts of giant watery disasters that we see figuring in a wide number of different cultures around the world. All these stories go back to a natural catastrophe that affected the collective memory of peoples living in the Eastern parts
of the Mediterranean Sea.
A deluge like the one described in these myths would have devastated humanity. But could such a flood have really happened? In the past decade, scientists have uncovered some stunning clues that prove it did. Research has shown that as the Ice Age ended about 7,000 years ago runoff from melting glaciers surged into the Black Sea basin, vitally submerging nearly 170,000 square miles of dry land. For these people, their entire world was flooding. And it surely must have seemed like they must have angered the gods to have brought down this kind of disaster upon themselves.
Could this be the real life disaster that spawned the story of Zeus' flood? In the myth, Zeus has held on to power in the face of strong opposition. But there's one more challenger he didn't count on,
Jesus Christ. In the 1st Century AD, his message would take the world by storm and dethrone Greece's dominant god.
When Christianity came and promised salvation in the afterlife it gave people something to believe in, something that could happen to them after their death, Christianity found many followers. Zeus' stranglehold on humankind faltered as this new religion spread across the Mediterranean world. Ultimately, the same civilization that worshipped him would reject him. In antiquity there was no more
powerful force than Zeus except from one, Fate. Not even Zeus himself could overturn it, much as he wants to on occasions try to change fate or re-direct it, he himself is even subject to its dictates.
Before the rise of Christianity, Zeus' myth captivated the Greek world for thousands of years and made him the most feared and respected of all the gods. But he was only one of many, from Greece and beyond, who would live their mark on Mankind. Some are still familiar names - Hercules, Hades, Medusa. And each of their stories is a window into a long lost world. A code waiting to be eciphered. These myths reveal to us in a uniquely powerful way the hidden strata that lay underneath our conscious, awake lives, our understanding of the world. Like an archaeology of the human mind we can dig into them and see the deep recesses of human psyches. And I think that's what makes these myths so powerful.