I’ve blogged before about how the theory of ancient aliens being responsible for the monumental building of ancient Egypt and other contemporaneous civilizations is inherently racist. The idea is basically that the humans of Egypt and these other cultures were simply too inept to achieve what they achieved without alien help. They needed aliens or the white-skinned descendants of Atlantis who, according to pseudo-history of the type spun by theosophist Madame Blavatsky, were spawned by aliens anyway.
When the perspective changes to Meso-America, assumption that native populations of the ancient Americas were also too primitive and backward. Some would not go as far as aliens being responsible for the technological achievements of the Mayans and other native groups, choosing instead that “lost” white men from a destroyed Atlantis migrated to the new world and built great structures. A Christianized version of this myth is that nephilim did the building, despite the fact that no biblical text describes the nephilim as building anything or migrating anywhere.
Here’s an excellent article that briefly lays out the racist bent of the ancient astronauts idea. The links are excellent — so good that I’ve pulled some of them and listed them below so you don’t miss them. (Thanks to JW for this).
Sarah Bond, “Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens”
The last article in the list is timely for me, as not long ago I read the excellent book, Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya. It’s the story of the discovery of the Mayan ruins in the early 20th century. A major focus is explaining the significance of the find and the work. In a nutshell, the recording and drawings (think Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in 1798-1801 for a parallel) overturned the dominant paradigm for understanding the Mayans. Previously, it was thought that white-skinned peoples from the Old World (or Atlantis in the craziest version) had come to the New World and given the stupid dark-skinned indigenous populations the know-how to build cities on a scale of the greatest cities of Europe.
In other words, these backward inferiors just could not have done this by themselves.