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Erich von Däniken

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Erich von Däniken (born 1935 in Zofingen[?], Switzerland) is a Swiss author and researcher, who is best known for his theories about extraterrestrial influence on human culture since prehistoric times. He has also suggested that human evolution may have been manipulated by means of genetic engineering by extraterrestrial beings. He has published 26 books and claims to have sold over 60 million copies.

The evidence von Däniken has put forward to support his theories can be categorised as follows:

  • Artifacts have been found which represent higher technological knowledge than is presumed to have existed at times when they were manufactured. Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts have been manufactured either by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from them. Such artifacts include Stonehenge, the head statues of Easter Island and the Antikythera mechanism.
  • In ancient art throughout the world themes can be observed which can be interpreted to illustrate astronauts, air and space vehicles, non-human but intelligent creatures, and artifacts of high technology. Von Däniken also points out details that are similar in art of unrelated cultures.
  • Origins of religions as reaction to a contact of primitive humans with an alien race. The humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural and the aliens themselves to be gods. According to von Däniken, the oral and literal traditions of most religions contain references to visitors from 'stars' and vehicles travelling through air and space. These, he says, should be interpreted as literal descriptions which have changed during the passage of time and become more obscure, rather than symbolic or mythical fiction. One such is Ezekiel's revelation in Old Testament, which he interprets as a detailed description of a landing spacecraft.

Even though the scientific community has remained unconvinced about von Däniken's theories, considering them unfounded speculation at best, the general public has been more responsive. His 26 books have been translated into more than 20 languages, selling several million copies worldwide, and his documentary TV-shows have been viewed in Germany and the United States. His influence can also be seen in science fiction, the New Age culture and some modern religions like Scientology.

Most historians regard his claims as pseudoscience, and are of the opinion that he is drawing far-reaching conclusions from little evidence and is disregarding more likely alternative hypotheses, but a large group of followers, among which some who have written books of their own, are of the opinion that his theories are likely to be true.

The scientific community's dismay at von Däniken led to the publication of The Space Gods Revealed by Ronald Story in 1976. It is a careful refutation of the theories and evidence in von Däniken's most famous work - Chariot of the Gods, almost page by page.

Currently von Däniken is a prominent member of the Archaeology, Astronautics and SETI Research Association (AAS RA), of which he is a co-founder, and a new fictional TV-series based on the themes of his writings is under production. Von Däniken is in the process of developing a theme park called "Mysteries of the World" based in Interlaken[?], Switzerland. It is due to open on May 23, 2003. As of July 2001, a science fiction tv series based upon his books was in development.


  • Chariots of the Gods (1968)
  • Gods from Outer Space (1970)
  • The Gold of the Gods (1972)
  • In Search of Ancient Gods (1973)
  • Miracles of the Gods (1974)
  • Signs of the Gods (1979)
  • Pathways to the Gods (1981)
  • The Eyes of the Sphinx (1996)
  • The Return of the Gods - Evidence of Extraterrestrial Visitations. (1997)
  • Odyssey of the Gods - An Alien History of Ancient Greece. (2000)

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