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Editorial: Did Aliens Build the Pyramids?

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

By Hannah Thorpe

Image from: Live Science

“Aliens helped the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids at Giza, and the remains of a human-alien hybrid baby proves that extraterrestrial life exists and has visited the earth.”

The Great Pyramids of Giza were built around 4500 years ago and were made to last forever to guide the divine Pharaohs into the afterlife. These magnificent structures have attracted tourists, admiration, and a large number of conspiracy theories as to how they were built. However, these theories and pseudo-archaeology are not only foolish, but also dangerous.

Pseudo-archaeology comes in many guises, but relies on the same fundamental argument: people of the past did not have the knowledge, technology, and capability to build 118 stone structures as tall as 146 metres, and the implication is that some other force was involved. Many have said that Egypt’s ancient pyramids were actually built by extraterrestrials. Archaeologists are often accused of conspiring to hide the ‘truth’ of ancient Egyptian history.

The problem with pseudo-archaeological arguments is that they are biased against people of colour, and doubt is placed on their skill and expertise. Instead of acknowledging that ancient cultures built phenomenal structures like the pyramids, the origins of archaeological sites from non-western countries are often scrutinised and the assumption is that some higher force was involved.

Pseudo-archaeology ties in with white nationalism, particularly because it throws doubt on the achievements of people of colour, leading the way to rewriting history through a white power lens. White nationalism is a pro-white racial ideology that shares many interests with white supremacy, such as that the interests of white people must be put first.

In 2014, two German pseudo-scientists set out to ‘prove’ that academics were hiding the Giza pyramids’ real origin. They chiselled off a piece of one of the pyramids without authorisation, so they could ‘analyse’ it. Incidents like this demonstrate threats to developing nations’ cultural heritage. These are not wealthy nations and it costs money that they do not often have to repair the damage done by pseudo-scientists.

Image from: Hurghada Lovers

While there is still some debate over how the bricks were lifted from the ground to the top of the pyramids, archaeologists have found evidence of giant ramps that would have been used to access the upper levels. Egyptologists uncovered remains of a ramp made of limestone chips and clay near Giza’s Great Pyramid.

“The ramp would have leaned against the pyramid’s faces as they rose, somewhat like accretion layers wrapped around the pyramid with a roadway on top,” wrote Egyptologists Zahi Hawass and Rainer Stadelmann.

Modern experiments have also shown that the stone could be moved by a team of 1200 to 1500 workers by using the technology that was available to them. Evidence of cattle, sheep, and goat bones uncovered in excavations indicate that thousands of people were fed in the years it took to build the pyramids. Archaeologist Mark Lehner says workers were “fed like royalty”.

Hawass also discovered worker cemeteries at the foot of the pyramids, meaning that those who died were buried in a place of honour and were not mere slaves as has been suggested. Undergoing extremely hazardous work, those who built the pyramids were craftspeople with high levels of skill, who were celebrated and recognised for their achievements.

The walls of the inner chambers and corridors of ancient Egyptian pyramids were inscribed, according to Hawass and Stadelmann. These inscriptions included instructions on how to build the pyramids, outlined ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, as well as how to ensure a safe trip to the afterlife for the deceased person. There were even names inside the pyramids, listing the people who worked on building the tombs.

Elon Musk’s Twitter page - Taken from: Mashable

In 2020, Elon Musk tweeted: “Aliens built the pyramids obv.”

Twitter users pointed out the racist overtones of the conspiracy theory. South African comedian, Yaaseen Barnes, replied to his statement by saying, "It's easier for white people to believe that aliens built the pyramids than for their minds to even comprehend the idea that Africans did."

The day after he originally posted the initial tweet, Musk added a link to the real history of the pyramids. Although Musk is a renowned Twitter troll, many have said that it was irresponsible of him to spread science-undermining theories to his devoted followers at a time when conspiracy theories run wild.

Scientists have an important role to play in changing people’s perspectives on such harmful theories. People should be able to see how awe-inspiring structures like the Great Pyramids of Giza are – not because they were created by aliens, but because they are proof of ancient societies’ inventiveness.

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