"legendarytimes.com" Feature Interview with Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, A.A.S. R.A. Chairman & Director of Research
Interview by Sean Casteel
No discussion of the implications of ancient artifacts and their possible extraterrestrial origin would be complete without the name of Erich von Däniken, the world famous author of "Chariots of the Gods." Danikens' research and theories have even spawned an international organization devoted to the study of what is termed Paelo-SETI, the scientific term for the belief that extraterrestrials have visited Earth in ancient times and had an influence on the development of mankind.
The organization is called the AAS RA, which stands for Archeology, Astronautics and SETI Research Association. That name is being phased out, however, in favor of the shorter and pithier "legendarytimes.com," according to Chairman Giorgio Tsoukalos.
"We like to call it 'legendarytimes.com' because the AAS RA acronym is just way too long," Tsoukalos said.
The path by which Tsoukalos came to steer the legendarytimes.com organization began in his childhood.
"I had the privilege as a young kid," he began, "to travel all around the world with my parents. And since my parents were very much interested in archeology, wherever we went, we would go to museums and of course we'd also go to look at the ancient sites, the ancient monuments and ancient structures. Whenever we would go to these sites, my Mom and sometimes even my Grandma would take out a book by Erich Von Daniken, and they started to read to me about what was going on."
As a teenager, Tsoukalos did some reading of Von Daniken on his own and was hooked from that moment on. Since Tsoukalos also lived in Von Daniken's native Switzerland, it was easy for him to attend some of the author's lectures and conferences.
It was there that Tsoukalos developed a friendship with Erich von Daniken himself. One thing led to another, and soon Tsoukalos, who had since come to the United States to attend college, was asked to head the English version of the "Legendary Times" magazine.
"What am I going to say?" Tsoukalos recalled. "No? So that basically was the start of our working relationship. 'Legendary Times' is the only journal of its kind on the planet. We're the only ones that exclusively dedicate our pages to determining whether or not extraterrestrials visited Earth in the remote past."
Which is an idea that Von Daniken has pursued to no small success, according to Tsoukalos.
" 'Chariots of the Gods' was an instant bestseller," Tsoukalos said, "with 7 million copies sold out within weeks. Throughout his career, he's written about 26 books, all of which have been translated into 36 languages and have sold over 60 million copies worldwide. Thus making him the most successful nonfiction writer of all time. His books sell more than the Bible in Poland, for instance. Erich of course was one of the first to make this theory popular, but he by all means is not the only one. He's the most recognized for it, but there are many other authors that are very famous that wrote about this also."
Tsoukalos said that the organization has no great need to preach to the unbelievers.
"We just present evidence," he said. "We don't present 'fact' because obviously none of us were there 5000 years ago. So we don't want to twist anybody's arm. All we do is present evidence, and then we let everybody else make up their own mind."
The research methods are as thorough and rock solid as the monuments themselves.
There is a sameness to so many of those ancient legends that speaks volumes about the universal nature of primitives and their encounters with their "gods."
"All of the stories, all of the creation myths, all of the ancient legends and mythologies begin the same way," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's a story from Africa or from Australia or South America or Asia or from wherever. It's always the same-that a long, long time ago the heavens opened and the Teachers From The Sky, as they were referred to, descended from the heavens. They were teaching mankind in various disciplines, such as mathematics, architecture, agriculture, astronomy, all sorts of things.
"We've got to understand one thing," he continued. "Look at the Sumerian or Egyptian culture, which were some of the most advanced cultures that mankind has ever seen. Right before the Sumerian and Egyptian cultures came into existence, we were cave men."
Tsoukalos used an analogy to make his point that the two civilizations seemed to come out of nowhere nearly fully developed.
"It's as if Henry Ford's first car would not have been the Model T," he explained, "but the Ford Taurus. And as we all know, that's not logical. But with the Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, there's no evolution in technology. They didn't start somewhere and then gradually perfect their style. All of those things just suddenly popped up as if they knew perfectly well what they were doing."
Standard archeological explanations fall short of the mark, according to Tsoukalos, who argues that archeological evidence should also be weighed alongside what the ancient texts of various cultures actually say. As an example, he recounted the story of how the pyramids were built as told by an Arab historian named Al-Makritzi many centuries ago. The account comes from one of Von Daniken's books, "The Eyes of the Sphinx."
"Their story of how and why the pyramids were built is completely different than what we are told to believe by conventional archeology," Tsoukalos said. "And in fact, the story goes like this: 'A long, long time ago, once again, the heavens opened and the Teachers From The Sky, or as Al-Makritzi calls them, the Guardians Of The Sky, descended, and saw that mankind was still very primitive and was eating and drinking from the same food sources like the animals.' So we shared the same food like the animals, we drank from the same river, there was no distinction almost. Yet, they said the human race was intelligent, or that they had the potential for intelligence. So what they did is, they took the most promising specimen into their shelter.
"This guy is called Saurid, and here the story makes a very interesting pause because the author wants to make an important reference. The reference is that, by the way, Saurid is the same person that the Hebrew community calls Enoch, who is the first person in the Bible that did not die on Earth, but before he died was taken into heaven in a fiery chariot.
"It's a very important reference because [it illustrates how] all of the ancient mythologies and stories interlock. They're all related to each other. None of these ancient stories are unique. You come across the same timelines, the same order of events, and the same people, just with different names."
Meanwhile, back with the gods, Saurid is taught not only how to write, but also the basics of mathematics, agriculture and various sciences.
"Of course they only taught him the basics," Tsoukalos went on, "because the guy must have been dumbfounded to be approached by these beings that in his mind were the gods. They were so powerful. They knew how to fly. They had machines and wondrous things with which they could make fire in an instant and things like that. That is incredible for a human being that's never seen anything like this."
Having learned to write, Saurid was commanded to set down what he had learned in the form of books for the edification of his fellow humans. He had soon written 300 books, and the extraterrestrials were pleased with his achievement. But they also had some bad news to deliver. They warned Saurid of a coming natural catastrophe, the Great Flood of Antiquity.
"Here we have a reference to the Great Flood," Tsoukalos said. "The Bible is not the first source in which the Great Flood was mentioned. The story dates all the way back to 'The Epic of Gilgamesh,' which was written in Sumeria and is one of the oldest texts available. So there is no question that the Flood happened, because there are so many references in different texts that it's a tangible thing almost."
Having learned of the coming catastrophe, Saurid and some of his friends approach the extraterrestrials and ask for help to construct a building as a way to preserve the 300 books of wisdom so that the future generations that survive the flood won't have to start from scratch.
"And the extraterrestrials look at him and say, 'I guess we taught him well.' They said, 'You have our help. We'll do this. Why not?' Then it says in the text, verbatim, word for word, 'and then Saurid and his people built the great pyramid with the assistance of the Guardians of the Sky.'"
Another way to logically approach the Paleo-SETI view of mankind's development is to look at what we know of our own efforts in exploring space.
"Five hundred years from now," Tsoukalos began, "we'll establish bases on the moon and on Mars. We will venture into deep space because we are a species of explorers. That's just a fact. Without us being a species of explorers, America never would have been discovered. Even though the adventurers and discoverers were standing on the shores of Portugal and Spain, overlooking the Atlantic, even though everyone was telling them, 'Look, you can't go past the horizon because you're going to fall off,' they still set sail because they wanted to see what's out there.
"See, what sets us apart from the animal kingdom is one trait that is completely and utterly different than any animal-we have insatiable curiosity. We can know something, but we still ask, why? How does this work and where does this lead? Human beings are always on the move. So 500 years from now, who knows? We're getting pretty close to [the point] where all of the Earth will have been discovered. And then what will we do? Will we just sit back and wait and be bored? No. We will explore deep space."
Tsoukalos postulated our arrival at some distant planet that harbors intelligent life that had not yet reached an advanced level of technological development.
"Will we just sit back and watch and study them?" he asked rhetorically. "Or will we give them a push in the right direction? I think the answer is clear because our human inflated egos would not allow for us to just sit back and watch. We would definitely appear and teach them a few things."
Along with educating the theoretical primitives, we would also leave a signature on our handiwork.
"We have to leave something behind," he said, "because we want them to know that something happened in the past that can't necessarily be explained or described by the people living there at the moment, but so that the future generations, with their modern knowledge, could decipher what happened back then, to let them know that something in the past happened that was not 'natural evolution.'"
Tsoukalos conjectured that we might have the distant race build something similar to a gigantic stone circle located in France in an area called Brittany.
"You have these columns upon columns of stone slabs," he explained, "just standing right there. You have three and a half thousand of those. They all form mathematical riddles. You have unilateral triangles, you have Pythagorean triangles. All stuff that's ten thousand, twelve thousand years old, and nobody knows who built it. Will you and I as space travelers move those stones around? No way. It will be that obedient workforce that we have found on that planet, because, in their eyes, we are gods.
"We fly around. We descend in a smoky vehicle and we make noise and the ground trembles and you're shaking and the earth is quaking because of our shuttlecraft. We will tell them, 'You're going to put a stone here, you're going to put a stone there.' We will show them, but we will not make our hands dirty. So our argument is that if a scenario like this will eventually be played out by our own human race on a far distant planet, why couldn't this have happened here on Earth a long, long time ago?"
Tsoukalos also attempted to answer some of the criticisms leveled at "legendarytimes.com" and Von Daniken's theories.
"One of the biggest criticisms that we have is, 'Well, how would you conquer the distances between the stars?' We can't build a starship that goes at the speed of light, and we'll never get there. And by the time we get there, we'll never be able to go back. Let me tell you, these are all very lame arguments. Sure, I agree one hundred percent that we don't know how to build a propulsion system that will let us travel even close to the speed of light. Forget it. I am after all a devout believer in Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and he proved that it cannot be done. You know what? Who cares?
"Because NASA, believe it or not, does have blueprints of so-called Generation Starships. A Generation Starship is a very interesting concept where when you leave Earth and you travel into deep space, you basically have a colony on that starship. You make children, you raise those children, and you die on the starship. Then your children will have children, and they will raise their children, and then your kids will die. Until five or six generations have passed, and only then do you arrive at the first destination. Now, when you arrive at the first destination, with all of the raw materials that are available at the destination planet, you can build a second Generation Starship and then you just start playing the game over and over again.
"And I'm not making this up. According to Marshall Savage, who wrote a book called 'The Millennial Project,' he proves that with a system like that, within a timeframe of 500 million years you can colonize the entire galaxy. Everyone is shaking their heads and wiggling their ears because 500 million years is a long damn time. But compared to the age of the universe, it's nothing."
There is still another criticism directed at the Paleo-SETI theory, one that says that perhaps the true source of those ancient civilizations is a form of super-advanced human beings who died out due to some natural catastrophe or self-destructed somehow.
"That is a very popular theory," Tsoukalos said, "even more popular than the Ancient Astronauts Theory. Well, that is a great theory, but the bottom line is that, in all of these ancient texts, it always says that whenever the natives asked these beings 'Where are you from?' they never said, 'We come from another land.' They never pointed across the ocean and said, 'We come from across the ocean.' But always they pointed to the sky and smiled. And if I have a description of this being pointing to the sky, I don't need a human super-civilization. It's clear. But again, it's all up for interpretation. We don't want to twist anybody's arm. We just put out the possible evidence."
[A theme park called "Mysteries of the World" built around Erich Von Daniken's research was opened in Interlaken, Switzerland in May of 2002. For more information on von Daniken and "Legendary Times," visit the organization's web site at http://www.legendarytimes.com.]
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos
A.A.S. R.A. / PO Box 29075
San Francisco, CA 94129