Giorgio Tsoukalos and Kevin Burns of Ancient Aliens makes us believe: Exclusive interview

Producer Kevin Burns and star Giorgio Tsoukalos
Ancient Aliens executive producer Kevin Burns and star Giorgio Tsoukalos

Tonight, History’s hit series Ancient Aliens is back — with the new season taking us to historic and fascinating locations across the planet to investigate theories suggesting aliens once visited earth.

Monsters and Critics spoke to Giorgio Tsoukalos, the lead alien expert on the series and the man behind the famous meme, about his favorite past and current trips as the show continues its search for evidence of so-called “ancient astronauts”.

Joining him for our interview was prolific producer Kevin Burns of Prometheus Entertainment, who has many creative irons in the fire, from Lost In Space on Netflix to The Curse of Oak Island, one of the top-rated TV series around.

Lead expert and co-executive producer of Ancient Aliens, Tsoukalos is an acolyte of Erich von Däniken, the author of Chariots of the Gods and one of the leading experts on ancient alien theory.

Tsoukalos too, is now one of the world’s leading ancient astronaut theorists and he is also the publisher of Legendary Times magazine, the world’s only ancient astronaut research journal.

We spoke to him and Burns about Ancient Aliens, some exciting news about The Curse of Oak Island, possible cross-overs and who “they” are:

Monsters and Critics: Giorgio, I know that you’ve got a history of seeing UFOs. What do you think is the most convincing evidence of aliens?

Giorgio Tsoukalos: I think it’s the collection of different pieces of evidence. Yes, I saw, with witnesses, with 20 other people, what we think was an extraterrestrial craft in August of 2014.

However, that’s not the event that was a watershed moment for me. I’ve been investigating and studying these things ever since I was a teenager so it’s just this accumulation of different pieces of evidence, which have led me to be convinced that the possibility that the ancient gods that our ancestors talked about were not necessarily a figment of our ancestors’ imagination but that they may have been actual flesh and blood space visitors.

That is something that I’ve now done for many years and I wouldn’t say these things lightly if I weren’t convinced of that notion.

M&C: Is there a physical structure, thing or monument on Earth that you can point to and say, ‘This is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence’ for your claim?

Giorgio: Sure. Even though I’ve never personally suggested aliens built the pyramids, the show has suggested that the engineering knowledge with which the pyramids were built came from the extraterrestrials. They refer to them as “The Watchers” or the “Guardians of the Sky”.

But if I have to point at one particular place, I would have to defer to Pumapunku in Bolivia, which is right next to the world-famous archeological site of Tiahuanaco.

Pumapunku covers a large part of the massive ancient city of Tiahuanaco, just southeast of Lake Titicaca in the Andes mountains

We’re at an altitude of almost 13,000 feet, which means we’re above the natural tree line, which means that rollers or logs or trees that were cut down to use as wooden rollers never existed at that altitude.

And there we have red sandstone blocks that weigh in excess of 75 metric tons and also smaller blocks that are made of grey andesite, and in both cases, we are confronted with a bit of a problem.

The big, red sandstone blocks…we have a problem with transportation because, how do you move 75 tons in the highland of the Andes without wooden rollers? And even if you put a five-ton block on a wooden roller, it would crush it to dust.

And then the other problem is with the andesite blocks. Because, yes, tools were found in the area but the tools are all copper and iron. And andesite is igneous rock.

You can’t cut or work andesite because it is much harder than the copper or the iron that was found. So, the question is: Is it possible that our ancestors had access to sophisticated technology? In this case, some sort of power tools?

M&C: Kevin, you’ve been in this business a long time. You’ve got a lot of hits and a lot of success. Talk to me about your take on Ancient Aliens. You’ve got a lot of TV babies out there and this is one of them. Could you talk to me about this show and as it relates to your feelings about it?

Kevin Burns: Yes. The show came about when Lucas Film asked us to do a documentary of Indiana Jones. We did it for the History Channel and it was meant to be a look at the film series and its influences on young archaeologists and stimulating people to be archaeologists. And my approach to that show was “Why do we dig?”

If you look at all the Indiana Jones films, including the fourth one, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is definitely an Ancient Aliens movie….we’re looking for where we came from, or looking for our origins.

And even though we’ve been told various versions of where we come from; whether it’s the Big Bang, whether it’s something from the Bible or ancient religious texts, we’re still not satisfied that we have an answer.

And I think that archeology is an attempt to keep digging and digging and, of course, the longer we dig, the more we find out that everything we’ve been told turns out to not entirely be true. Or, there’s something new that we never knew about how old man is and how old the planet is and how old the structures on the planet are.

Now, people are starting to suspect the pyramids are not 4,000 years old, as they suspected, but could be as old as 10,000 years old or older. One of the reasons that they can’t tell is they cannot carbon date stone.

So, when we did the Indiana Jones show, we, of course, reached out to Erich von Däniken and, at the time, I didn’t think I was going to be able to get him for the show. I asked my producer, “Find me the Erich von Däniken of the United States. Who’s his protege? Who’s his follower?” And that’s how I met Giorgio.

Giorgio was in our Indiana Jones show and it was very successful. I met with Giorgio and we talked about where we could go with this and how it was the 40th anniversary, at the time — of course, now, this year it’s the 50th anniversary — of Chariots of the Galaxy.

When I met Giorgio, about 10 years ago, we talked about the idea of doing an update of Chariots of the Galaxy. We thought it would only be a two-hour show.

And it’s funny, because I approached Ancient Aliens as an open-minded skeptic. I said to Giorgio, “Do you believe this?” He said, “I don’t believe it, I know it.” That very much impressed me. We pitched it to the History Channel and they picked it up as a two-hour special and we thought that was it.

We never intended that it be a series, and then they came back to me because the first-two hour show was so successful and they said, “Can you do five more two-hour shows?” I said, “I can’t imagine anyone would watch five two-hour shows every week.” Well, they did — in very startling numbers, and now we’re in the neighborhood of, I think, 150 episodes.

Depending on which version you look at, we’re either in our 11th season now or our 13th season, but it’s a very impressive line-up of shows which, I have to say, have convinced me more and more and more that there’s a lot we don’t know. There’s an enormous amount of compelling evidence.

I think if we are going to go to Mars, it’s arrogant of us to assume that no one has ever come here. So, what I tell people who challenge us and say, “Well, you’re the show that says aliens built the pyramids,” I say, “No, no, no. We do not say that aliens built the pyramids. The pyramids say aliens built the pyramids.”

Meaning, it’s the hieroglyphs, it’s the markings, it’s the carvings on these ancient structures that give credit to these extraterrestrial deities.

So, we either assume that people armed with enormous technological and building expertise didn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy or maybe there is something to biblical stories and ancient religious texts that is more history than mythology.

M&C: For AlienCon, you have presented a panel titled ‘Crash Sites and Coverups’. The description says, “We discuss what we know and what they don’t want us to know.” Who are “they” and why is suppression by “they” a thing? What’s the fear?

Kevin: Well, in Ancient Astronaut theory it is a very large tent. What we have found out is that each person who…what I call “Erich von Däniken’s children”, Giorgio being one of them but others include David Childress and William Henry and Linda Moulton Howe, the late Phillip Coppens…

All of these people have their own field of interest or expertise. And, it’s a very large tent. We don’t challenge what people’s research is. What we like to do is present an open forum to present it.

A number of ancient astronaut theories believe that there is a conspiracy, either on the part of world governments, or on the part of our own government to keep us from knowing the truth. Sometimes…I have to tell you, until recently I thought that idea was probably far-fetched.

And then the more you realize about how governments work, and the more we realize about how documents are redacted or restricted, it starts to make more and more sense that maybe there is a lot that the government or world governments are hiding.

More and more, Ancient Aliens is becoming an increasingly international-oriented show, and it’s startling to meet people from Canada, from the UK, from Russia, from Asia, from South America, who all have similar stories to tell and similar stories of people in government positions who do not want them to get access to certain raw data. I don’t draw conclusions from that but we present the evidence of that.

M&C: What do you suppose, though, is the reason, for whoever this nebulous “they” are…I can’t imagine that someone like Donald Trump could keep quiet about this?

Kevin: Again, depending on the theory that you subscribe to, some of those theories are that these ancient aliens, these ancient astronauts, have been communing on earth for quite a long time.

That there are certain people who have been allowed access to that information and that once they have access to that information, they are keeping it quiet because if you knew that extraterrestrials existed, I think the notion is that it would either incite world panic or that it would undercut any source of motivation or belief in the hereafter of the various things that might motivate people to be industrious.

Now, again, is that a farfetched notion? I’m not going to comment, but there’s also quite a bit of evidence that suggests…in biblical texts, there’s reference to intersection or interconnections with beings or deities or what would be called ancient aliens.

And, since the Roswell crash in the 1950s, there seems to be a mounting body of — only recently has it started to become released — evidence of government’s involvement in some kind of extraterrestrial technology or the mining of extraterrestrial technology.

M&C: Giorgio, do you think that there are races or a race of people that are untouched by alien DNA?

Giorgio: The classic ancient alien astronaut theory suggests that at some point, extraterrestrials came down and altered our DNA through a genetic mutation of our genes that happened on an artificial level.

For example, even for homo sapiens, of which all of our races are, we are currently considered not just homo sapiens but homo sapiens sapiens. Not just “the wise man” but “the wise, wise man”.

The leap between homo sapiens and homo sapiens sapiens happened within 50,000 years. Now, looked at from regular Darwinian evolution, that is an incredible, fast leap.

Ordinary Darwinian evolution suggests that long, long, expansive periods of time needed to be lapsed between the emergence of a new species. So, the ancient astronaut theory suggests that this was all accelerated because, at some point, we received a genetic alteration of our genes.

By the way, this is something that our scientists are doing in the lab today with different types of animals. So, I think that the ultimate evidence for extraterrestrial existence doesn’t come in the form of a crashed spaceship or finding a ray gun somewhere in an Egyptian tomb but it will be when geneticists find out that this junk DNA that’s in the news all the time isn’t necessarily junk but a yet-to-be decoded message that our origin lies out in the cosmos.

M&C: What are some of the locations and theories that are featured on the new season of Ancient Aliens?

Giorgio: Oh my gosh. In eight days, I’ve returned from Egypt and then I’ve gone to Greece and in three days I’m leaving for Italy. We’re exploring megalithic sites all over the world.

After Italy, I’m heading toward Easter Island with David Childress and it’s an incredible journey because…see, the team at Prometheus…I really would like to give them credit because they have done such extraordinary work to give us unprecedented access to areas that the public has never seen. Or, it’s been 50 years since the last time since the public has had access.

It’s a tremendous opportunity for all the viewers to see and experience things that…you can’t even find this stuff on the internet. Tune in, it’s a fantastic adventure. Especially, this coming season.

M&C: Giorgio, on Twitter you previously tweeted, “Today, April 5th, was a transcendental experience. I’ll be able to tell you about it after the new season of Ancient Aliens begins. Thank you to the crew and team at home for making it one of the best days of our lives. Today was one for the ages.” Elaborate, please!

Giorgio: But the premiere hasn’t happened yet! I’m only kidding. This was because we essentially spent a day between the paws of the Sphinx. And that’s a place that has been inaccessible to the public for the past 100 years.

To be able to, with the crew, walk around, freely, around the Sphinx, which I think is a structure that was created at least 8,000 years ago due to the water erosion marks…that to me was a transcendental experience.

Because it’s not normal to get to experience these moments and, if I tell you right now that often times I have to pinch myself to ask, “Is this really happening?”, that was one of those days.

I was really pleased to be there with my entire team and the crew because we all experience this together. I’m incredibly thankful to Kevin and Prometheus and everyone else involved to give us this opportunity.

M&C: Kevin. With all the developments on the last season of The Curse of Oak Island, are there any overlaps between Ancient Aliens and the ancient alien theory and that particular show? Do you feel that there’s any kind of connection?

Kevin: Well, I can’t say that I know. I can only say that the idea to do [The Curse of] Oak Island came out of those first two-hour episodes of Ancient Aliens because we were following up on a theory that the Ark of the Covenant may be the secret object that’s buried in the bottom of the Money Pit and that it would’ve been placed there by the Knights Templar, having rescued it from Jerusalem.

That is still a very potent theory and if one connects the Ark of the Covenant to what is alleged to be effectively an extraterrestrial device; a machine, a weapon, that was used by the Israelites quite extensively before it became missing, then, yeah.

If we were able to find anything that dates back that far on the island, that would be a big breakthrough and I think the cross that we found, which was extraordinary and we’re still doing testing on it — we can’t seem to find any evidence of a cross of that shape or construction that is any more recent than the 1300s or earlier.

In other words, some have dated it to as old as 900 AD, some have said 1300 AD, and if it is in that neighborhood, it could very well have been left behind by a Templar and that might be some kind of evidence that they did come to North America years before Columbus. And, if they did, what did they bring and why?

M&C: Are you going to explore this on the next season of Curse of Oak Island? 

Kevin: Oh, absolutely, yup. In fact, it’s also interesting because Marty Lagina, who is, again, an open-minded skeptic, while Rick, his bother, is a believer. It’s interesting, a lot of people ask, and not to get too highfalutin’, but they say to me, “What is the secret to Ancient Aliens’ longevity? Why do people love the show?”

I say, “Because…my argument is that we are a species living in a more and more and increasingly secular world where science has become, effectively, a religion that seeks to answer all of our questions and I don’t think we believe all the answers.” I think that what Ancient Aliens does is that it invites you to wonder. It invites you to ask questions and to answer them for yourself.

The narrator tries very hard not to put forward something that is not fact. But the narrator also encourages the idea of allowing the theorists to say and to allow people to examine their own thoughts and feelings and say, “What do you think of this? Is this true? Could this be true?”

Oak Island is, in a sense, a similar experience in that Rick Lagina is someone who I call a man of faith. And his brother, Marty, is the engineer. He’s a man of science and I think that all of us are on a quest to recover our faith.

I think we want to believe in magic, I think we want to believe in wonder in the universe. We want to believe that there is something more to our life than death. I really do think…and that is a very important thing for us and for me, personally. I think, honestly, it’s evident in Lost in Space. It’s evident in Curse of Oak Island, it’s evident in Ancient Aliens.

I do believe, just speaking for myself, that we want to believe in heaven. We want to believe in God, we want to believe in magic, we want to believe in miracles. We don’t want to believe that it’s all nothing and that there are gateways and pathways to the universe that we have not even thought to explore.

So that said, Marty Lagina came to us and said, “Has anybody been to Sardinia because my wife and I have been to Sardinia,” and he doesn’t necessarily believe in ancient aliens, but he said, “There’s a lot of weird stuff there that I can’t figure out and I’d love to know what Giorgio’s take is on it.”

Giorgio is about to go meet with Marty and we’re gonna do an episode in Sardinia exploring the ancient carvings and megalithic sites there.

M&C: Is that going to be part of Ancient Aliens or is that going to be a separate, stand-alone Curse of Oak Island special?

Kevin: No, it’s going to be on Ancient Aliens. Marty Lagina will be doing a guest appearance on Ancient Aliens and maybe you’ll see Giorgio coming up to Oak Island. When I was a kid, I used to love it when the Beverly Hillbillies met with the Green Acres people at Petticoat Junction.

So, do I think that we could do Civil War Gold meets Ancient Aliens meets The Curse of Oak Island? Yes.

M&C: Giorgio, I’m going to close this interview with a fun one for you. There’s a million memes out there of you. Which one is your favorite?

Giorgio A. Tsoukalos meme

Giorgio: Oh, I love them all. I think they’re just a testament of the love that people and fans have for the show. And, if the meme directs people to watch Ancient Aliens, then it’s a win-win for everybody involved. Look, it’s something that grew organically and I think it’s tremendous. I love it.

Ancient Aliens premieres tonight and airs Fridays at 9/8c on History.

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