Von Daniken is a charlatan...but there was this one prehistoric painting...

Back in the early days of the Chariots Of The Gods hoax, much was made of some peculiar paintings in the Tassili region of the Sahara Desert. Supposedly, they might have been representations of ancient astronauts, or spacecraft, etc. As was usually the case with this sort of thing, you had to stretch the imagination quite a bit to see anything that would support Von Daniken’s hypothesis.

But there was this one painting on a concave rock wall, depicting a large figure in what appeared to be a bulky suit of some kind. There was a round headcovering that seemed to fit into the suit just the way a helmet would fit into a flight suit. But instead of a faceplate, the helmet just had a roundish design in the center that makes the whole thing look like a cyclops. To anyone who saw the TV specials in the early '70’s, or looked at the books that were published around then, this was without a doubt the most arresting image that came out of the whole hoopla. It really does look very much like some kind of astronaut.

Now my question: I’ve looked and looked, but I can’t find a picture of this “astronaut” anywhere. Was it proven to be a hoax, and hence removed from all later book editions and other material? The Tassili paintings really do exist and are fascinating because they represent Saharan life during a time when it wasn’t a desert, but a well watered grassland. The people who did the painting are supposed to have scattered in various directions as the desert encroached, and participated in the founding of various early African cultures, including Egypt and those of the SubSaharan region.

Try the 9th picture down.

Is that what you’re looking for?

Is it on this page?

Is this the painting you’re thinking of?

http://ufoarea.bravepages.com/gallery_aas2.html (it’s towards the bottom of the page)

A Google search for “Tassili astronaut” suggests that there are still some people who are peddling this particular theory.

On preview I see that others have already found the picture, but here are two more links anyway.

Ancient Astronauts
Alien Artifacts

It is in there, thanks.

I know V.D. really goes overboard but damn! a few of those pictures really do make you wonder. My own view is it could have happened, it either did happen or it didn’t, and we’ll probably never know.

Thanks also to lieu for the interesting link. I’ve been interested in the Tassili culture ever since I read about them in childhood, in a Time Life book, but have not had much luck in finding material. When last I looked, in a research library, virtually all the available material was in French, that being the unifying lingua franca of West Africa.

Makes you wonder? Great Goddess - some of those pictures (which I hope are fake or misinterpreted) gave me actual goosebumps. :eek:

I watched a TV documentary about some South American archaeology the other night and they showed extensive evidence (from paintings on ceramics and walls, carvings and knife marks on skeletons) that captured enemies were slaughtered (ritually or otherwise) and partially skinned or defleshed; it was particularly interesting (if somewhat gruesome) that one of the practices included cutting and carefully peeling back the skin of the victim’s face so that it formed a sort of rolled-up frame around the remnants of the features - this was well-represented in the larger carvings and paintings but it is easy to see how this could end up looking like a figure wearing a helmet if you tried to represent it in small scale in a medium such as clay or stone.

I suppose that if we were not familiar with the artistic traditons of the western world, we might think that the haloes in religious art depict in a sort of artistic shorthand round helmets, perhaps in some cases with a gold glaze on them.

In either case, because the depicted individual’s head is seen in its entirety, we have to assume the helmets are comic-book Flash Gordon style full-bubble fishbowl helmets, and not the type of helmets that are actually used by the space travellers we ourselves have sent up.

The saharan art referred to possibly depicts an individual or deity with special qualities (now unknown to us) whose head is emphasized by drawing arcs or circles around it. It should be seen not for what it isn’t (a spaceman), but for what it is; possibly the earliest depiction of a halo-type feature, and that independent of other artistic traditions. This suggests that it is a somewhat universal archetype, rather than something that was originated by a single culture and passed to others.

Gee, if it IS a spaceman/alien, then why does he or she look so very much like our human spacemen (not only is costume, but in proportion) rather than like the aliens now somewhat accepted by popular culture: the non-space-suited “grays”?

Oddly enough, there is another painting at the Tassili site which is known as the “Great Mars God”, but that just looks like a fairly typical rock painting. It sort of has horns or antlers and looks like it could be a male prowess or fertility symbol. It doesn’t really look unearthly at all.

The whole “ancient astronauts” movement was so riddled with outright misinterpretations, mistranslations, and misrepresentations that I take 95% of their “evidence” with a large grain of salt. But for the other 5%, sometimes the debunking explanations seem no better than the those of the believers. This isn’t to say that the debunkers are necessarily wrong, just that we don’t know enough yet. Maybe there were no ancient visitors from other worlds, but I’m sure the truth of these artifacts will prove to be no less intriguing.

I always thought Von Daniken gave the ancients way too little credit for imagination. Some of his spookier legit things, though, were discoveries like this skull
which would give anybody a start. (It’s from a Peruvian tribe that practices headbinding on newborns.)
One of the eeriest legends to me is told in Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World- a medeival girl recounts an “abuction” by “demons” that sounds almost exactly like an encounter with the “Grays”. While Sagan was a world famous skeptic, he included the tale to demonstrate that perhaps it’s a form of dream archetype- VD of course argues that it’s a pre modern UFO abduction. (I like Jung’s term of “technological angels”, when UFO sightings became more common than sitings of angels which had once filled books).
Are you familiar with Lloyd Pie’s “Starchild”?http://www.lloydpye.com/raising.htm

JCHeckler, your point is well-taken re: a depiction of a deity. The thing is, Von D takes that into account in his hare-brained theory as well.

You see, these ancient cultures were visited by intergalactic travelers, and they became, by default, “gods.” Think about it: out of a clear blue sky comes a roaring conveyance spewing smoke and fire, and a being alights from it. This being has “powers” superior to the ancients (by dint of being technologically advanced, they can show pictures, create sounds, fire powerful weapons which destroy large areas from a distance). They are, therefore, superior beings and must be deities.

So the “interpretation” of the gods is not fanciful but a true depiction of space men. The logic you’ve used to cast doubt on the theory is part of the “proof” of the theory itself, according to Von Daaniken.

Unfortunately, you can’t win such an argument. And people will choose to believe whatever they choose to believe.

I tend to agree with Sampiro. Not enough credit was given to the ancients’ collective capacity for imagination.