Erich von Däniken
No one has challenged the traditional understanding of ancient history in a more dramatic way than Erich von Däniken. And no book has presented that challenge with more widespread impact than von Däniken’s 1968 bestseller Chariots of the Gods?
Von Däniken has devoted most of his life and writings to advancing the thesis that prehistorical sites, and ancient buildings, artifacts, and documents, are replete with evidence of space alien visitation. Although not the first to ponder this possibility, von Däniken has struck a chord in a way no other writer has before or since. His nearly two dozen books have been translated into 32 different languages and collectively sold more than 60 million copies.
Born in Switzerland and raised as a Roman Catholic, von Däniken was fascinated by astronomy and flying saucers from an early age and rejected many of the Catholic church’s traditional teachings. He began his career working in the hotel industry, writing books during downtime at the hotels where he worked. In his early adult years, he had a number of unfortunate scrapes with the law involving theft, embezzlement, forgery, and fraud, and even served time in prison shortly after Chariots of the Gods? was published. In fact, he wrote his second book Gods from Outer Space while in prison.
To the debunkheads, Erich von Däniken is Public Enemy #1. Legions of scientists and academics, perhaps envious of von Däniken’s popularity, loudly dismiss him as a pseudo-historian, pseudo-scientist, and pseudo-archaeologist. And while it is true that some of the assertions von Däniken has made through the years have turned out to be speculative, poorly researched, or just plain wrong, he has drawn attention to literally hundreds of ancient mysteries around the world for more than five decades – most of which cannot conveniently be explained away with narrow-minded debunkery.
And therein lies Erich von Däniken's rightful claim to fame. Although in many ways a flawed man, he is someone who saw history through a whole different lens, and who – despite endless criticism and ridicule from the archaeological and scientific establishment – has continually asked the questions no one else has dared to ask. He has inspired countless others to join him in his quest to explain ancient mysteries.