Visiting The Ruins of Lisbon’s Ancient and Medieval Past

Visiting The Ruins of Lisbon’s Ancient and Medieval Past

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Visiting the vibrant and colorful city of Lisbon, on the banks of the river Tagus and the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, what is most showcased is one episode of the city's and country's glorious past: Lisbon as the capital of the Portuguese Empire, a nation of explorers, seafarers and conquerors. However, for those interested, there is much more ancient history to explore among the narrow and steep streets in the capital's oldest surviving neighborhoods.

In fact, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, tracing its roots to the first Celtic settlements in the region and the establishment of a trading station by the Phoenicians c. 1200 BCE. The city was under Roman control from 205 BCE-409 CE and Moorish rule from the 8th century CE until the first king of Portugal Afonso Henriques I (r. 1147-1185 CE) won control of the city in 1147 CE. Though the city's history in many ways is well documented and the cultural influences of previous rulers are visible, sadly, much of the ancient and medieval city was destroyed during the devastating earthquake of 1755 CE. Ancient and historical monuments and buildings from before the 18th century CE are therefore a lesser part of today's cityscape than the city's rich history would imply. Luckily for history enthusiasts and students, as well as tourists who wish to explore Lisbon's past, there are two sites still (partly) standing: the Castelo de S. Jorge and the ruins of the Santa Maria do Carmo Church. Their outstanding beauty and fascinating history arguably make up for much of what has been lost.

Castelo de S. Jorge

The Castelo de S. Jorge occupies the most prominent location in all of Lisbon. On top of the highest hilltop, the historical monument is visible from all parts of the town, and when visiting you will get a magnificent view of Lisbon and the Tagus River. The fantastic view is, in fact, the first thought that strikes you as you enter, and it is not hard to understand why, for centuries, every ruling elite of Lisbon wanted this location as their residence. The hilltop contains a rich history, with archaeological finds dating back to as early as the 7th century BCE and there are a lot of different areas to explore. The main sites and monuments to see are the castle itself, the ruins of the Alcáçova Palace — the royal residence of the Portuguese medieval kings — the archaeological site and the museum and permanent exhibition.

...envisage princesses, knights, & kings plotting dangerous schemes, running away with a secret lover or hosting a magnificent ball.

As you walk through the beautiful garden and ruins, maybe climbing some of the towers or to enjoy more of the view, you will find the entrance to the museum and permanent exhibitions, also partly located within the ruins of the medieval palace. The exhibition contains archaeological finds from within the castle walls. There are some remains dating from the 7th century BCE, as well as from the Roman period (205 CE - c. 409 CE) and the Visigothic fortification. However, most of the artifacts are from the Moorish period, especially the 11th and 12th century CE. This is the period when the castle was constructed. The hilltop was first fortified by the Romans, and the oldest part of the castle dates to the 6th century CE, but most of the castle you see today was established and constructed by originally North African Moors.

The Moors ruled much of the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th century CE until they were driven out by the Portuguese and Spanish Reconquista, finally losing their last stronghold in Grenada in 1492 CE. After enjoying the memorable view you will walk towards the main parts of the castle, but first you will pass a tall statue of one of the most important individuals in the castle and Lisbon's history (at least that we know of today): King Afonso Henriques I. King Afonso captured the Moorish fortification in 1147 CE with help from crusaders on their way from northern Europe to Jerusalem.

Next, you will enter the area named the “Romantic Garden”, which is where the medieval residence and palace used to be located until the earthquake of 1755 CE. This area is truly magical and in some ways haunting. Remains of fountains, gates, walls, and doors are still standing entwined in green bushes and trees. It looks like the perfect film set for a romantic drama set in the Middle Ages, and it is not hard to envision princesses, knights, and kings going about their everyday lives plotting dangerous schemes, running away with a secret lover or hosting a magnificent ball.

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After spending some time in the museum, it is time to enter the castle itself. It is only a couple of minutes walk from the romantic garden and museum, and on the way, you are likely to be met by beautiful peacocks who walk freely on the historic property. The castle stands out in the scenery, and the massive brick walls truly look unreachable. This castle was not built as a residence but as a defensive stronghold. The fortification could house the elite rulers of the city if the citadel was under siege, but it was normally used to house military troops. Entering you have to walk up the ramp over the previous moat. Then you will be standing in front of the “Tumbling Tower”, also known as the “Tower of Riches”. The tower used to contain the royal treasure, which consisted of income from taxes and royal rents, as well as The Royal Archives, which included the most important documents in the kingdom. The Royal Archives were stored here and in the palace tower, as well as in other parts of the castle until the earthquake. Moving on you will walk into the courtyard, which is enclosed by thick walls and high towers. There are not many objects to see in the castle itself, but it is nice to walk around the courtyard and climb some of the walls and towers, again envisioning what the site might have looked like while in use by either the Moors or the Portuguese royal elite.

If you walk around the castle keep, the most important part of the castle because it was built to withstand heavy attack, you can climb a few steps up to the cistern tower. From here you can walk on top of the wall away from the main castle and towards the archaeological site. From the walls, you will get a good overview of the archaeological area, where you can study the remains from three different eras. Closest to the wall is remains from the Moorish Quarter, dating from the 11th and 12th century CE. The two most notable houses are known for their beautifully decorated walls - parts of these buildings are therefore protected by a modern construction. The other areas contain finds from the palace of the Counts of Santiago, dating from the 15th-18th century CE, and residential structures dating from the Iron Age (7th-3rd century BCE). You are not free to walk around the archaeological site by yourself, but there are free guided tours in Portuguese, Spanish, and English several times each day.

Soak up the atmosphere of what feels more like a village than a busy capital city.

On your way to the next monument on the route of visiting Lisbon's ancient and medieval past, you will walk through the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon: Alfama. Take your time walking through the narrow streets and past the charming houses while soaking up the atmosphere of what feels more like a village than a busy capital city. If you have the time, it is also worth visiting Lisbon's Cathedral, a beautiful gothic cathedral whose construction began in the 12th century CE, and the ruins of a Roman amphitheater located right outside the walls of the Castelo de S. Jorge.

The Carmo Ruins & Archaeological Museum

An approximately 30-minute walk from the castle, on the opposite side of the Rossio Valley and in the heart of the historic district of Bairro Alto, you can visit the Carmo Archaeological Museum. The museum is located within the majestic ruins of the Church of Santa Maria do Carmo, the building itself being worth a visit. Historians, archaeologists, and students of architecture alike can enjoy the captivating atmosphere while they learn about medieval Portuguese history, gothic architecture and explore archaeological finds from different time periods and regions of Portugal. The museum even contains a couple of ancient Egyptian and South American mummies.

The main structures are still standing, bathed in sunlight & only painted by the blue sky above

When entering the Carmo Ruins, you first encounter the enchanting view of what is left of the Santa Maria do Carmo Church. The church was founded in 1389 CE by the Portuguese knight D. Nuno Álvares Pereira (1360-1431 CE). The church and convent were meant to showcase Pereira's temporal power, though it was also connected to his spiritual practice in the Carmelite Order. In fact, the convent may have been built for the Carmelites, a mendicant order tracing its roots to hermits living in the Mount Carmel mountain range in northwestern Israel around 1200 CE. The mountain has since ancient times been known as a “holy mountain” and a “high place” where the Biblical prophet Elija supposedly confronted the false prophets of Baal. Appropriate then that Pereira's church and convent should be built on one of the highest points in Lisbon, almost as a homage to the original Carmelite convent on the Holy Mountain.

The Church was built in a classic Gothic style, an architectural style flourishing in Europe from the 12th century CE. The Carmo church was considered the most beautiful Gothic building in Lisbon until its destruction in 1755 CE. Some reconstruction was done to the church after the earthquake, but the work was not completed and the ruins were left as they are seen today. The main structures are still standing, arguably made even more beautiful as they are bathed in sunlight and only painted by the blue sky above. As you enter the site, artists are practicing their drawing and painting skills trying to capture the breathtaking view, and other spectators are often seated at the benches situated at the entrance of the central nave. It is nice to sit here for a few minutes (or more) just taking in the view and visualizing what the church looked like before its destruction.

Then, as you walk the central, southern and northern naves, there are many interesting artifacts to be studied and admired, both tombs and other items and sculptures from the church and convent itself, and other archaeological finds from different parts of Portugal. Noteworthy are the tombs of a 16th-century CE knight from the S. Domingos Convent in Santarém and of Princess Catarina (1436-1463 CE), daughter of the second Portuguese king of the house of Aviz, King Duarte (r. 1433-1438 CE). The different artifacts are now taken care of by the Carmo Archaeological Museum, which was installed in the complex after the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists was created in 1863 CE. The main museum is now located in several smaller halls at the front of the central nave.

The first room you enter is the most spectacular as it is filled with medieval tombs, statues and a beautiful large chandelier hanging from the ceiling, making you feel like you have traveled back in time. Your eyes will first land on the tomb situated in the center of the room, the tomb of King D. Fernando I (r. 1367-1383 CE). Sculptured in bas-relief, the tomb is a magnificent work of art depicting religious and lay figures, groups of fantastic creatures, an alchemist, as well as scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. The different rooms in the museum contain different collections of historic artifacts, including The Prehistoric and Protohistoric Collection; The Roman Collection, The Collection of Sculptures of the High Middle Ages and The Islamic Collection.

In the room with The Prehistoric and Protohistoric Collection you can study anthropomorphic idols, vases and stone tools dating from the Paleolithic period (c. 2,500,000-c. 96000 BCE) to the Iron Age (c. 800-c. 50 BCE), while when in the room of The Roman Collection you can admire the famous “Muse Sarcophagus”, found in Valdo dos Frades, dating from the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century CE. In addition, you have a room dedicated to two of the most important and emblematic influencers of The Archaeological Society, Possidónio da Silva (1806-1896 CE) and Conde de S. Januário (1829-1919 CE), where you will discover an ancient Egyptian mummy from the 3rd-2nd century BCE and two mummies from Peru from the Chancay culture (c.1000-c. 1500 CE), dating from the 16th century CE. This museum has something for everyone!

If you have enough time, (and enter with enough time before the closing, 6 pm from September to June and 7 pm from June to September) you can spend hours immersed in Portuguese history and cultures from different time periods and regions of the world, while surrounded by the beautiful ruins. Afterwards, you can sit down at the charming and peaceful praça in front of the church, and enjoy a late lunch or a pastel de nata, the yummy unofficial national pastry of Portugal.

The 30 Oldest Cities in the World

History is one of the best parts of travel the more history in a place, the more you're likely to learn. While the rest of the world looks to the top destinations for their next vacation, history lovers should look to the cities with the most to offer – cities that are older than any other on the planet and home to some of the world's greatest heritage sites. Going back thousands of years before the common era, the world's oldest cities are some of the most cultural destinations, many of them having been conquered and influenced by different peoples and their own cultures.

We drew up a list of the oldest places in the world, listed in a rough chronology rather than ranked in order, as the foundation dates of some cities are more unsure than others. In these cities, you can come across centuries-old monasteries and temples, strange rock formations, and even places said to have been visited by historical giants or biblical figures.

Best Historic Sites in Lisbon

There are several historical sites in Lisbon that merit special mention for their cultural or architectural significance. Largo do Carmo in Chiado is where the early days of the Carnation Revolution ere played out. The most poignant site perhaps is the King Carlos I assassination site in Terreiro do Paço. Besides being a murder, the event marked the beginning of the Republican uprising in Portugal.

On the other side of the square is Café Martinho da Arcada. Inside you&rsquoll find the restaurant table that Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa sat at and frequently used as his &ldquooffice&rdquo. Under the streets of the Baixa (downtown) district, the foundations of a 13 th -century wall, the D. Dinis Wall, can be viewed as part of a permanent exhibition. Nearby, the Núcleo Arqueológico is another fascinating underground archaeological, which is sited under a bank.

Once a year in the same vicinity, the Galerias Romanas are opened up for the public to visit. It&rsquos a long wait in a queue, but worth the effort! Remnants of Lisbon&rsquos medieval town wall can be viewed at various sites throughout the city, especially near the river along Rua dos Bacalhoeiros. A little visited historic site is the geo monumento, the remains of a 20 million-year-old seabed found in Campo Ourique and located where the ocean once met the land. Meanwhile, over in Alfama, there&rsquos the Museu do Teatro Romano, where the ruins of a Roman theatre can be viewed. And expanding the religious theme, the Igreja de São Domingos, known for its fire-damaged interior, is one of Lisbon&rsquos most unusual historic sites.

What are the best Viking sites, museums and ruins to visit?

1. The Viking Fortress Trelleborg

The Viking fortress at Trelleborg is one of the best preserved of four circular fortresses in Denmark. The collection of circular fortresses in Denmark is believed to date back to the tenth century and would have been heavily defended by an army of warriors led by Harald I, who was the son of Gorm the Old.

In addition to the fortress, visitors can see a large Viking cemetery, a Viking village and a museum housing numerous excavated objects, a museum shop and café. Trelleborg is very child-friendly, with demonstrations, costumed-guides and activities.

2. Jorvik Viking Centre

The Jorvik Viking Centre in York hosts a reconstruction of a Viking city as it would have looked in approximately 975 AD. The reconstruction of the city comes complete with figures representing the Vikings whose likeness is based on skulls found at the site. From market scenes to those showing the Vikings at home and at work, Jorvik recreates the Viking life as it would have been in what is now York.

3. The Viking Museum at Ladby

The Viking Museum at Ladby houses the Ladby Burial Ship, a Viking ship grave found there in 1935. Dating back to around 925 AD, it is believed that the ship is the burial site of a prince or other leader, such as a chieftain.

Displaying the Ladby Burial Ship amidst a series of other excavation finds, the museum offers an insight into the history of the Vikings and their lives in the area.

4. Jelling

Jelling is an impressive and significant Viking archaeological site containing a series of important tenth century finds. Originally the royal home of the Gorm the Old, Jelling remains a vital part of Denmark’s history, particularly as this Viking king was the first of the royal line which still rules the country today.

Gorm and his son, Harald I Bluetooth, erected several monuments at Jelling, including a pair of enormous grave mounds, which are the largest in Denmark. These are still incredibly well-preserved and can be viewed at the site. Gorm was buried in the larger one, although the second one is not thought to have been used. Runic stones also stand before Jelling Church, which dates back to around 1100. The site has a visitor centre with a series of exhibits telling the story of the monuments.

5. The Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum displays five Viking vessels and offers an incredible insight into the world of the Viking people and their era of between 800 AD and 1100 AD.

The ships are known as the “Skuldelev Ships” due to the fact that they were found sunk in Skuldelev, a deliberate act by the Vikings to form a barrier – the Peberrende blockade – to enemy vessels. The ships range from a 30 metre long warship known as “wreck 2” to an 11.2 metre fishing boat. Each one has been carefully reconstructed. The museum also has an exhibit telling the story of a Norwegian attack and there are even summer boat trips available for an authentic Viking experience.

6. The Settlement Exhibition

The Settlement Exhibition displays the remains of Iceland’s first known Viking settlement set in its original location in Reykjavik. Visitors to the Settlement Exhibition can see an array of artefacts excavated at the site as well as the stone foundations of a Viking Longhouse.

The site of the Settlement Exhibition dates back to 871AD, while the longhouse is believed to be from the 10th century.

7. L’Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows is the only-known site of Viking settlement in North America, these also being the earliest European visitors to the region.

Today, visitors can tour reconstructions of a trio of reconstructed 11th century wood-framed Viking structures as well as viewing finds from archaeological digs at the interpretative centre.

8. Hedeby Viking Museum

Hedeby Viking Museum is located on the site of an important Viking settlement and offers great insight into the lives of the Vikings. The museum is located just across from the original settlement site and displays the results of over a hundred years of archaeological discovery. What’s more, several nearby Viking houses have been reconstructed and the fortifications are also in evidence.

9. Fyrkat

Fyrkat is an archaeological site made up of nine reconstructed Viking houses and a ringfort as well as a Viking cemetery. It is thought that the fort at Fyrkat was established during the reign of Harald I Bluetooth in around 980 AD. There are also exhibitions about the history of the Vikings.

10. Lindholm Hoje

Lindholm Hoje is a large archaeological site housing Denmark’s most impressive Viking and Germanic Iron Age graveyard. With over 700 graves of various shapes and sizes found in 1952, Lindholm Hoje offers a fascinating insight into burial customs of the time. Guided tours can be arranged in advance. Lindholm Hoje also has a museum displaying archaeological finds and telling the story of the Viking and Iron ages.

Ancient Carmo Convent and Church bear poignant witness to Lisbon’s catastrophic earthquake of 1755 that killed thousands

One of the ways to experience Lisbon’s historical significance is to take a tour through the ruins of the Carmo Convent and Church situated in the heart of Portugal’s capital.

This intriguing archaeological building is a testimony to the deadliest earthquake in Lisbon’s history in 1755. The indescribable damage caused by this disaster touched almost the entire area of modern Lisbon, but Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and its Church are among the rare survivors. This story of the past and its aftermath unravels in front of the eyes of visitors, scholars, and archaeologists.

On the morning of November 1, 1755, Lisbon’s streets were full of people praying on the Day of All Saints when the unthinkable happened. An earthquake, which is thought to have reached a magnitude of around 9 on the Richter Scale, shook the city and caused a catastrophe that marked Lisbon forever.

The Carmo Convent is a historical building in Lisbon, Portugal. The medieval convent was ruined in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, and the ruins of its Gothic church (the Carmo Church or Igreja do Carmo) are a historic landmark.

According to some ancient records, the event was a replica of Doomsday–the earthquake was followed by fire and then by a tsunami that nearly wiped the city off the face of the Earth. The medieval religious edifice, Carmo Convent and Church, lay in ruins, roofless, while its library containing 5,000 books was completely destroyed.

Ruins of Igreja do Carmo, Lisbon

The Carmo complex was built in 1389 and expanded in 1423 by order of Nuno Alvares Pereira, the head of the Portugese army and the king’s right hand. After winning the battle against the Castilian army in 1385, a victory which ensured Portugal’s independence, King John I rewarded Nuno and provided him financial support to found the convent. In 1404, Nuno donated his wealth to the convent and later became a full brother.

The central nave of the Convento do Carmo in Lisbon. This large cathedral built by the Carmelite order and was destroyed during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 leaving only the bare arches and walls.

Prior to the earthquake, the convent and the church represented the crowning point of all Lisbon’s Gothic religious edifices. The convent was bestowed to the Carmelite order, but the later massive, irreparable damage ended the building’s service and purpose.

The church ruins of the Carmo Convent (Convento do Carmo) in Lisbon, Portugal. The church was damaged during an earthquake.

After the earthquake, the site was intentionally left roofless as a reminder of the disaster, with arches pointed to the vast sky. Marques de Pombal, the reconstructor of downtown Lisbon, ordered the delicate arches to be left as they were as a reminder of all the victims who lost their lives during the devastating event. Today, the convent and the church are home to the Carmo Archaeological Museum, a small museum dedicated to Portuguese history, displaying a variety of ancient artifacts, including some from the Bronze Age and the Roman era.

Lisbon, Portugal – 12. October 2015. Interiors of the roofless Carmo Convent in Lisbon, ruined by the earthquake

The site is in the charming square of Largo do Carmo in the heart of the Chiado district. This area is usually filled with massive flocks of tourists who want to see and sample the most popular historical sites of Lisbon.

Detail of the ruins of the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (the Carmo Convent), a medieval convent destroyed by 1755 Lisbon earthquake, in Lisbon, Portugal

The lively colors of the district confront Carmo’s austere exterior. The convent’s red gate greets the visitors who are eager to see and explore further. The interior explicitly displays the religious importance of the Gothic church through towering pillars and tall arches.

The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a Portuguese historical, religious building in the civil parish of Santa Maria Maior, municipality of Lisbon.

While inside, one can see tombs and statues and enjoy the marvels of the Gothic architecture. The skeleton and the “ribs” of this outstanding convent adorn Lisbon’s skyline and can be seen from many viewpoints (“miradouros”) throughout the city. In 1864, the skeleton was donated to the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists, Igreja do Carmo, which successfully restored a great deal of the damage and transformed the church into the museum.

The Convento do Carmo in Lisbon, Portugal

During the liberation from the communist Salazar government in 1974, the convent was a central military base and the last stronghold of the President. The military character of the site still remains as, nowadays, the old convent is one of the central buildings of the Municipal Guard.

Many might not notice, but among the mystic inscriptions on the walls, right at the exit of the convent, is a reference chiseled into the stone to the 40 days of indulgence decreed by Pope Clement VII for the faithful Christians visiting the church in the early 16th century. This represented a reduction of 40 days in the amount of time his congregation would spend in purgatory before entering heaven.

Arrow Slits and Watchtowers: Ayaz Kala I

In comparison, the other two fortresses, Ayaz Kala I and Ayaz Kala II, have been much better preserved. Ayaz Kala I is located on the top of a flat-topped hill, which would have given the fortress a commanding view over the surrounding landscape. According to archaeologists, Ayaz Kala I was built around the 4th/3rd century BC.

Compared to Ayaz Kala III, this fortress is smaller in size, covering only an area of 2.7 hectares (27000 m 2 ). Ayaz Kala I has a rectangular plan, and was built along a north-south axis. On the southern end of the fortress is an extra square structure, which was accessed from the eastern side. This structure was meant to increase the defensive capabilities of the fortress, as anyone attempting to take the fortress would be forced to breach two gates. During this time, they would have been left extremely vulnerable to the attacks of the defending archers.

Ayaz Kala I has not one, but two circuits of walls. These walls reach a height of 10 meters (32.8 ft.), and their thickness gradually reduces as they rise. In between the two walls is a vaulted corridor, the top of which is covered by a continuation of the walls.

Gateway to Ayaz Kala fortress. (Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/ CC BY 2.0 )

Inside the external wall are numerous arrow slits, which enabled the defenders to safely fire arrows at enemies. These slits also serve as rainwater channels. For added protection, a total of 45 watch towers, which are half-elliptical in form, were built. These watchtowers, however, were not built as part of the fortress’ external walls. Instead, the towers were constructed by filling them with layers of mudbrick.

Ayaz Kala I is thought to have lost its defensive function by the time Ayaz Kala III was built. During the Kushan period, the fortress may have functioned merely as a lookout post. Nevertheless, the locals probably continued using Ayaz Kala I as a refuge up until the early Medieval period.

Arrow slits at Ayaz Kala fortress. ( AnyaNewrcha /Adobe Stock)

Lisbon After The Earthquake

A readable history of the Portuguese capital emphasises the modern at the expense of the city’s deeper past.

There are several ways of writing the history of a place. There is the personal approach, in which history is interspersed with experiences and anecdotes Bill Bryson is the master here. There is the focused thematic approach: a city viewed through one lens, as in Jim Chevalier’s history of food in Paris. There is the monumental approach see Peter Ackroyd’s biography of London in over 800 pages. A key factor should be knowing your audience and making it accessible to them.

This new history of Lisbon is a readable, if rather breathless, chronological whirlwind. Hatton tries to pack everything into fewer than 300 pages and has what is no doubt the common problem of balancing the history of a capital city with that of its country. I would have liked a more personal approach. The author has lived in Lisbon for three decades, so occasionally there is a flash of close engagement with the city. Hatton’s decision, however, to end his history with the Expo World Fair in 1998 means that he avoids the rapid changes seen in the last 20 years. As a medievalist, I would also have liked much more on the city’s earlier history. Rather surprisingly, this ancient city’s pre-Roman, Roman, Islamic and medieval Christian past is all dealt with within 50 pages.

The history of Lisbon during the Renaissance, the 18th and 19th centuries and the 20th century is covered much more fully (though you have to look hard for the 17th century). This was the period of Portugal’s repeated ‘rises’ and ‘falls’ as a colonial power across three continents. It therefore seems appropriate to include a cross-chronological chapter on the presence of people of African origin in Lisbon over these centuries. Again the earlier periods are not well explored and one wonders why Brazilians or South Asians are not similarly identified as important to the city’s identity.

About halfway through the book, in the chapter devoted quite rightly to the most devastating earthquake ever to have affected Europe, in 1755, it occurred to me that Hatton’s main theme is not the sea, as implied by the title, but Lisbon’s wonderful architecture, civil engineering, streets and institutions. Most of what can be seen now was built after 1755, because the earthquake largely destroyed everything else. This fact alone explains the modern focus of the book. I learned a hugely engaging amount about the economists, engineers and technicians who built Lisbon. We are told a great deal about how it expanded from the small area around its ancient castle hill to include large suburbs with fascinating back stories of their own.

For whom was this book written? Residents and frequent visitors would want more on their favourite places. Tourists could easily use parts of it to form off-beat itineraries, using the images, maps and index to zoom in on the many striking buildings or viewpoints encountered on a visit. For armchair travellers keen to find out more, a royal family tree and more suggestions for further reading would have been helpful. This is clearly an up-to-date book in many areas of scholarship, but, most importantly, this book is too short. Lisbon is best understood when savoured with cakes or wine over a long period of time.

Queen of the Sea: A History of Lisbon
Barry Hatton
290pp £14.99

Iona McCleery is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Leeds.

[This review has been edited to correct a statement regarding missing 'notes, pictures, diagrams or street plans', which are included in the published book but were not in the advance proof.]


The castle was constructed during the 8th and 9th centuries, during the period of Muslim Iberia, as the central place in a territory that was primarily agricultural, and which was necessary to protect its population. [2] [3] [4]

In 1031, after the loss of Córdoba to the Almoravid dynasty, the king of Badajoz opted to transfer to Alfonso VI of León and Castile a few territories on the Iberian peninsula (among them Sintra) in order to gain an alliance with the Christian king. [2] This transfer did not result in any security, and the castle was lost to the invading Almoravid.

After the conquest of Lisbon (1147) by forces loyal to Afonso Henriques, the castle surrendered voluntarily to Christian forces. [2] [5] Afonso Henriques entrusted the castle's security to 30 inhabitants, granting them privileges in the foral (charter) signed by the monarch in 1154. [2] [5] The charter suggested that settlers should occupy and inhabit the castle, as a mechanism for guaranteeing the region's security and development.

During the second half of the 12th century, the chapel constructed within the walls of the castle became the parish seat. [2] This was followed by the remodelling and construction under the initiative of King Sancho I of Portugal. [2]

In 1375 King Ferdinand I of Portugal, under the counsel of João Annes de Almada, ordered the rebuilding of the castle. [2] While the structure was well fortified by 1383, its military importance was progressively diminishing as, more and more, the inhabitants were abandoning the castle for the old village of Sintra.

While the chapel was still being used a centre of religious activities at the beginning of the 15th century, by 1493 this chapel was abandoned and later only used by the small Jewish community of the parish. [2] This was followed in the 16th century by the transfer of the ecclesiastical parish of São Pedro from the castle to the new parochial church in the village. The Jews occupying and using the structures in the castle were expelled by Manuel I of Portugal, and the castle was completely abandoned. [2]

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused considerable damage to the chapel and affected the stability of the castle. Visiting the chapel, Francisco de Almeida Jordão described the chapel (in 1768) as having a "principal door in the east, and in the south another smaller door, and a window. An addition to a painted image on the altar, there was another of rock which, already exists in the hermitage of Santa Eufémia, where they took it". [2] [6] An 1830 lithograph by Burnett immortalized the chapel's place in the Castle. [2]

By 1838 the towers were already in ruins, when in 1840 Ferdinand II of Portugal took up the task of conserving and improving the condition of the castle, in which he committed 240 réis annually. [5] He consolidated the walls, reforested the spaces, created nooks and manicured spaces and conserved the chapel. [2] Along the south flank of the chapel he built a monument to collect the bones discovered during the public works, planting a tree in the central nave of the chapel. These reforms in the enclosure were overseen by Baron von Eschewege, but likely made the archaeological exploration of the territory considerably difficult. [5]

At the end of the 19th century the administrator of the Forestry Service, Carlos de Nogueira, authorized several projects in the castle and chapel. [2]

In 1939 the DGEMN became involved in the reconstruction of the castle walls, in addition to the lateral door of the chapel.

With an eye towards a fledgling tourist market, in 1954 a few of the cliffs were cleared to establish a picnic area near the castle, and in 1965 a transformer was installed to provide illumination. [2]

In 1979 archaeological excavations in the Chapel of São Pedro were begun by the cultural services of Portugal, which discovered the existence of medieval funerary tombs, dating to the turn of the 13th century.

A dispatch by the Ministry of Culture, on 26 June 1996, declared the area of the Castle as a zone of special interest (Portuguese: Zona Especial de Protecção do imóvel). [2]

During the summer of 1986, scouts were involved in projects to consolidate the walls with cement and clean the grounds, supported by the CMS. [2]

In 2001 there were various interventions associated with cleaning the property, clearing undergrowth and forest overgrowth, and the installation of an electrical box along one of the walls. [2]

How the Ancients Celebrated the Longest Day of the Year

Ancient Greeks
According to certain iterations of the Greek calendar—they varied widely by region and era—the summer solstice was the first day of the year. Several festivals were held around this time, including Kronia, which celebrated the agriculture god Cronus. The strict social code was temporarily turned on its head during Kronia, with slaves participating in the merriment as equals or even being served by their masters. The summer solstice also marked the one-month countdown to the opening of the Olympic games.

Ancient Romans
In the days leading up to the summer solstice, ancient Romans celebrated the Vestalia festival, which paid tribute to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. Rituals included the sacrifice of an unborn calf remove from its mother’s womb. This was the only time of the year when married women were allowed to enter the sacred temple of the vestal virgins and make offerings to Vesta there.

Ancient Chinese
The ancient Chinese participated in a ceremony on the summer solstice to honor the earth, femininity and the force known as yin. It complemented the winter solstice ritual, which was devoted to the heavens, masculinity and yang. Ancient Northern and Central European Tribes Many Germanic, Slavic and Celtic pagans welcomed summer with bonfires, a tradition that is still enjoyed in Germany, Austria, Estonia and other countries. Some ancient tribes practiced a ritual in which couples would jump through the flames to predict how high that year’s crops would grow.

Midsummer was a crucial time of year for the Nordic seafarers, who would meet to discuss legal matters and resolve disputes around the summer solstice. They would also visit wells thought to have healing powers and build huge bonfires. Today, “Viking” summer solstice celebrations are popular among both residents and tourists in Iceland.

Native Americans
Many Native American tribes took part in centuries-old midsummer rituals, some of which are still practiced today. The Sioux, for instance, performed a ceremonial sun dance around a tree while wearing symbolic colors. Some scholars believe that Wyoming’s Bighorn medicine wheel, an arrangement of stones built several hundred years ago by the Plains Indians, aligns with the solstice sunrise and sunset, and was therefore the site of that culture’s annual sun dance.

Maya and Aztecs
While not much is known of how exactly the mighty pre-Columbian civilizations of Central America celebrated midsummer, the ruins of their once-great cities indicate the great significance of that day. Temples, public buildings and other structures were often precisely aligned with the shadows cast by major astrological phenomena, particularly the summer and winter solstices.

The Celtic high priests known as the Druids likely led ritual celebrations during midsummer, but𠅌ontrary to popular belief—it is unlikely that these took place at Stonehenge, England’s most famous megalithic stone circle. Still, people who identify as modern Druids continue to gather at the monument for the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring equinox and autumn equinox.

Yucatán, Mexico

“It’s great to read about so many incredible ruins in Mexico, one of my favorite places to visit. During a trip to the Yucatán, we skipped Chichen Itza to explore some of the lesser-known sites. Uxmal was by far the most impressive. Wandering about this magical place, virtually alone, we could feel something indescribable, a spirit from the past perhaps. It’s something I can still feel today.” michwillshea

yeowatzup/CC BY 2.0


Proponents of the ancient astronaut hypothesis often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) who landed on Earth thousands of years ago. An associated idea is that humans evolved independently, but that much of human knowledge, religion, and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times, in that ancient astronauts acted as a "mother culture". Some ancient astronaut proponents also believe that travelers from outer space, referred to as "astronauts" (or "spacemen") built many of the structures on Earth (such as Egyptian pyramids and the Moai stone heads of Easter Island) or aided humans in building them. [7]

Various terms are used to reference claims about ancient astronauts, such as ancient aliens, [8] ancient ufonauts, [9] ancient space pilots, [10] paleocontact, [11] astronaut- or alien gods, [12] [13] or paleo- or Bible-SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). [14] [15]

Proponents argue that the evidence for ancient astronauts comes from documentary gaps in historical and archaeological records, and they also maintain that absent or incomplete explanations of historical or archaeological data point to the existence of ancient astronauts. The evidence is argued to include archaeological artifacts that they deem anachronistic, or beyond the accepted technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated. These are sometimes referred to as "out-of-place artifacts" and include artwork and legends which are interpreted in a modern sense as depicting extraterrestrial contact or technologies. [16]

Scholars have responded that gaps in contemporary knowledge are not evidence of the existence of ancient astronauts, and that advocates have not provided any convincing documentary or physical evidence of an artifact that might conceivably be the product of ETI contact. According to astrophysicist Carl Sagan, "In the long litany of 'ancient astronaut' pop archaeology, the cases of apparent interest have perfectly reasonable alternative explanations, or have been misreported, or are simple prevarications, hoaxes and distortions". [17]

Paleocontact or "ancient astronaut" narratives first appeared in the early science fiction of the late 19th to early 20th century. [ citation needed ] The idea was proposed in earnest by Harold T. Wilkins in 1954 it received some consideration as a serious hypothesis during the 1960s mainly due to Erich von Däniken. Critics emerged throughout the 1970s, discrediting Von Daniken's claims. Ufologists separated the idea from the UFO controversy. By the early 1980s little remaining support could be found. [18]

Shklovskii and Sagan Edit

In Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966) astrophysicists Iosif Shklovsky [Shklovskii] and Carl Sagan devote a chapter to the argument that scientists and historians should seriously consider the possibility that extraterrestrial contact occurred during recorded history however, Shklovskii and Sagan stressed that these ideas were speculative and unproven. [19] Shklovskii and Sagan argued that sub-lightspeed interstellar travel by extraterrestrial life was a certainty when considering technologies that were established or feasible in the late 1960s [20] that repeated instances of extraterrestrial visitation to Earth were plausible [21] and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with aliens.

Sagan illustrates this hypothesis by citing the 1786 expedition of French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, which made the earliest first contact between European and Tlingit cultures. The contact story was preserved as an oral tradition by the preliterate Tlingit. Over a century after its occurrence it was then recorded by anthropologist George T. Emmons. Although it is framed in a Tlingit cultural and spiritual paradigm, the story remained an accurate telling of the 1786 encounter. According to Sagan, this proved how "under certain circumstances, a brief contact with an alien civilization will be recorded in a re-constructible manner. He further states that the reconstruction will be greatly aided if 1) the account is committed to written record soon after the event 2) a major change is effected in the contacted society and 3) no attempt is made by the contacting civilization to disguise its exogenous nature." [22]

Additionally, Shklovskii and Sagan cited tales of Oannes, a fishlike being attributed with teaching agriculture, mathematics, and the arts to early Sumerians, as deserving closer scrutiny as a possible instance of paleocontact due to its consistency and detail. [23]

In his 1979 book Broca's Brain, Sagan suggested that he and Shklovskii might have inspired the wave of 1970s ancient astronaut books, expressing disapproval of "von Däniken and other uncritical writers" who seemingly built on these ideas not as guarded speculations but as "valid evidence of extraterrestrial contact." [24] Sagan argued that while many legends, artifacts, and purported out-of-place artifacts were cited in support of ancient astronaut hypotheses, "very few require more than passing mention" and could be easily explained with more conventional hypotheses. Sagan also reiterated his earlier conclusion that extraterrestrial visits to Earth were possible but unproven, and improbable. [25]

Erich von Däniken Edit

Erich von Däniken was a leading proponent of this hypothesis in the late 1960s and early 1970s, gaining a large audience through the 1968 publication of his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? and its sequels.

According to von Däniken, certain artifacts require a more sophisticated technological ability in their construction than that which was available to the ancient cultures who constructed them. Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were constructed either directly by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from said visitors. These include Stonehenge, Pumapunku, the Moai of Easter Island, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the ancient Baghdad electric batteries.

Von Däniken writes that ancient art and iconography throughout the world illustrates air and space vehicles, non-human but intelligent creatures, ancient astronauts, and artifacts of an anachronistically advanced technology. Von Däniken also states that geographically separated historical cultures share artistic themes, which he argues imply a common origin. One such example is von Däniken's interpretation of the sarcophagus lid recovered from the tomb of the Classic-era Maya ruler of Palenque, Pacal the Great. Von Däniken writes that the design represented a seated astronaut. The iconography and accompanying Maya text, however, identifies it as a portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree of Maya mythology.

The origins of many religions are interpreted by von Däniken as reactions to encounters with an alien race. According to his view, humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural and the aliens themselves to be gods. Von Däniken states that the oral and written traditions of most religions contain references to alien visitors in the way of descriptions of stars and vehicular objects travelling through air and space. One such is Ezekiel's revelation in the Old Testament, which Däniken interprets as a detailed description of a landing spacecraft (The Spaceships of Ezekiel).

Von Däniken's hypotheses became popularized in the U.S. after the NBC-TV documentary In Search of Ancient Astronauts hosted by Rod Serling, and the film Chariots of the Gods.

Critics argue that von Däniken misrepresented data, that many of his claims were unfounded, and that none of his core claims have been validated. [26] In particular the Christian creationist community is highly critical of most of von Däniken's work. Young Earth creationist author Clifford A. Wilson published Crash Go the Chariots in 1972 in which he attempted to discredit all the claims made in Chariots of the Gods. [27]

In Chariots of the Gods?, regarding the Nazca Lines, von Däniken states that "Seen from the air, the clear-cut impression that the 37-mile long plain of Nazca made on me was that of an airfield." [28] Considering he was in the process of finding evidence of ancient aliens, von Däniken exhibits confirmation bias, as he doesn't consider the Nazca Lines to be man-made until after the publication of Chariots of the Gods?. This etic perspective that he presents could be easily accepted by a reader familiar with air travel, and an undeveloped knowledge of the nature of the geoglyphs. Furthermore, since the majority of readers of Chariots of the Gods? are not educated in viewing artifacts from ancient civilizations, their interpretations are highly subject to von Däniken's opinions of the artifacts. Kenneth L. Feder argues a reader seeing the Nazca Lines for the first time in a book about aliens would be much more likely to associate those features with extraterrestrial origins, rather than from a civilization that existed on Earth. [29]

In 1970, von Däniken admits that the Nazca markings "could have been laid out on their gigantic scale by working from a model using a system of coordinates." [30]

Zecharia Sitchin Edit

Zecharia Sitchin's series The Earth Chronicles, beginning with The 12th Planet, revolves around Sitchin's unique interpretation of ancient Sumerian and Middle Eastern texts, megalithic sites, and artifacts from around the world. [31] [32] He hypothesizes that the gods of old Mesopotamia were astronauts from the planet "Nibiru", which Sitchin states the Sumerians believed to be a remote "12th planet" (counting the Sun, Moon, and Pluto as planets) associated with the god Marduk. According to Sitchin, Nibiru continues to orbit our sun on a 3,600-year elongated orbit. Modern astronomy has found no evidence to support Sitchin's ideas. [31]

Sitchin argues that there are Sumerian texts which tell the story that 50 Anunnaki, inhabitants of a planet named Nibiru, came to Earth approximately 400,000 years ago with the intent of mining raw materials, especially gold, for transport back to Nibiru. With their small numbers they soon grew tired of the task and set out to genetically engineer laborers to work the mines. After much trial and error they eventually created Homo sapiens sapiens: the "Adapa" (model man) or Adam of later mythology. Sitchin contended the Anunnaki were active in human affairs until their culture was destroyed by global catastrophes caused by the abrupt end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago. Seeing that humans survived and all they had built was destroyed, the Anunnaki left Earth after giving humans the opportunity and means to govern themselves. Sitchin's work has not received mainstream scholarly support and has been roundly criticized by professionals that have reviewed his hypotheses. Semitic languages scholar Michael S. Heiser says that many of Sitchin's translations of Sumerian and Mesopotamian words are not consistent with Mesopotamian cuneiform bilingual dictionaries, produced by ancient Akkadian scribes. [33] [34] [35]

Alan F. Alford, author of Gods of the New Millennium (1996), was an adherent of the ancient astronaut hypothesis. Much of his work draws on Sitchin's hypotheses. However, he now finds fault with Sitchin's hypothesis after deeper analysis, stating that: "I am now firmly of the opinion that these gods personified the falling sky in other words, the descent of the gods was a poetic rendition of the cataclysm myth which stood at the heart of ancient Near Eastern religions." [36]

Robert Temple Edit

Robert K. G. Temple's 1976 book, The Sirius Mystery, argues that the Dogon people of northwestern Mali preserved an account of extraterrestrial visitation from around 5,000 years ago. He quotes various lines of evidence, including advanced astronomical knowledge inherited by the tribe, descriptions, and comparative belief systems with ancient civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Sumer. His work draws heavily on the studies of cultural anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. [37]

His conclusions have been criticized by scientists, who point out discrepancies within Temple's account, and suggested that the Dogon may have received some of their astronomical information recently, probably from European sources, and may have misrepresented Dogon ethnography. [38] [39] [40]

UFO religions Edit

Various new religious movements including some branches of theosophy, Scientology, Raëlism, and Heaven's Gate believe in ancient and present-day contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. Many of these faiths see both ancient scriptures and recent revelations as connected with the action of aliens from other planetary systems. Psychologists have found that UFO religions have similarities which suggest that members of these groups consciously or subliminally associate enchantment with the memes of science fiction. [41]

Among scientists, the consensus is that the ancient astronaut hypothesis is not impossible, but unjustified and unnecessary. The "mysteries" cited as evidence for the hypothesis can be explained without having to invoke ancient astronauts proponents look for mysteries where none exist. [6] Since ancient astronauts are unnecessary, Occam's razor should be applied and the hypothesis rejected according to the scientific consensus. [42]

Ancient religious texts Edit

Proponents cite ancient mythologies to support their viewpoints based on the idea that ancient creation myths of gods who descend from the heavens to Earth to create or instruct humanity are representations of alien visitors, whose superior technology accounts for their perception as gods. Proponents draw an analogy to occurrences in modern time when isolated cultures are exposed to Western technology, such as when, in the early 20th century, "cargo cults" were discovered in the South Pacific: cultures who believed various Western ships and their cargo to be sent from the gods as fulfillment of prophecies concerning their return. [43] [ user-generated source? ]

The ancient Sumerian myth of Enûma Eliš, inscribed on cuneiform tablets and part of the Library of Ashurbanipal, says humankind was created to serve gods called the "Annunaki". Hypothesis proponents believe that the Annunaki were aliens who came to earth to mine gold for their own uses. According to the Enuma Elish story, the Annunaki realized mining gold was taking a toll on their race, and then created the human race as slaves. [44]

Ramayana Edit

In Hindu mythology, the gods and their avatars travel from place to place in flying vehicles called Vimana. There are many mentions of these flying objects in the Ramayana, which used by the Lankan king Ravana from Sri Lanka dates to the 5th or 4th century BCE. Below are some examples:

From Book 6, Canto CXXIII: The Magic Car: [45]

Is not the wondrous chariot mine,

Named Pushpak, wrought by hands divine.

This chariot, kept with utmost care,
Will waft thee through the fields of air,
And thou shalt light unwearied down

In fair Ayodhyá's royal town.

From Book 6, Canto CXXIV: The Departure: [45]

Swift through the air, as Ráma chose,

The wondrous car from earth arose.
And decked with swans and silver wings

Bore through the clouds its freight of kings.

Erich von Däniken discusses the Ramayana and the vimanas in Chapter 6 of Chariots of the Gods? suggesting that they were "space vehicles". To support his hypothesis, he offers a quotation which he says is from an 1889 translation of the Mahabharata by C. Roy: "Bhima flew with his Vimana on an enormous ray which was as brilliant as the sun and made a noise like the thunder of a storm". [46] [47]

Book of Genesis and Book of Enoch Edit

The Book of Genesis, Chapter 6 verses 1-2 and 4, states:

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them.
— Genesis 6:1–4 (New International Version)

Many Christians consider these groups to be the different families of Adam and Eve's children. Another interpretation is that the Nephilim are the children of the "sons of God" and "daughters of humans", although scholars are uncertain. [48] The King James Version translates "Nephilim" as "giants" (or Gibborim). Ancient Astronaut proponents argue that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in order "to be godlike", and this was the first step in human evolution. [ citation needed ]

The first part of the apocryphal Book of Enoch expands and interprets Genesis 6:1: that the "sons of God" were a group of 200 "angels" called "Watchers", who descended to Earth to breed with humans. Their offspring are the Nephilim, "giants" who "consumed all the acquisitions of men". When humans could no longer sustain the Nephilim, they turned against humanity. The Watchers also instructed humans in metallurgy and metalworking, cosmetics, sorcery, astrology, astronomy, and meteorology. God then ordered the Watchers to be imprisoned in the ground, and created the Great Flood (or the numerous Deluge myths) to rid Earth of the Nephilim and of the humans given knowledge by the Watchers. To ensure humanity's survival, Noah is forewarned of the oncoming destruction. Because they disobeyed God, the book describes the Watchers as "fallen angels". [49] [ original research? ]

Some ancient astronaut proponents argue that this story is a historical account of extraterrestrials visiting Earth, called Watchers because their mission was to observe humanity. Some of the extraterrestrials disobeyed orders they made contact with humans, cross-bred with human females, and shared knowledge with them. The Nephilim were thus half-human-half-extraterrestrial hybrids. [50] [ better source needed ]

Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman argue that modern UFOs carry the fallen angels, or offspring of fallen angels, and that "Noah's genealogy was not tarnished by the intrusion of fallen angels. It seems that this adulteration of the human gene pool was a major problem on the planet earth". [51]

Von Däniken also suggests that the two angels who visited Lot in Genesis 19 were ancient astronauts, who used atomic weapons to destroy the city of Sodom. [52]

Marc Dem reinterprets the Book of Genesis by writing that humanity started on another planet and that the God of the Bible is an extraterrestrial. [53]

Book of Ezekiel Edit

In the Old Testament, Chapter 1 of the Book of Ezekiel recounts a vision in which Ezekiel sees "an immense cloud" that contains fire and emits lightning and "brilliant light". It continues: "The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures". These creatures are described as winged and humanoid, they "sped back and forth like flashes of lightning" and "fire moved back and forth among the creatures". The passage goes on to describe four shiny objects, each appearing "like a wheel intersecting a wheel". These objects could fly and they moved with the creatures: "When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose". [54] [ original research? ]

In Chapter 4 of Chariots of the Gods?, entitled "Was God an Astronaut?", von Däniken suggests that Ezekiel had seen a spaceship or spaceships this hypothesis had been put forward by Morris Jessup in 1956 [55] and by Arthur W. Orton in 1961. [56] A detailed version of this hypothesis was described by Josef F. Blumrich in his book The Spaceships of Ezekiel (1974). [57]

Elsewhere in the Bible Edit

The characteristics of the Ark of the Covenant and the Urim and Thummim have been said to suggest high technology, perhaps from alien origins. [58]

Robert Dione and Paul Misraki published books in the 1960s describing the events in the Bible as caused by alien technology. [59] [60] Barry Downing, a Presbyterian minister, wrote a book in 1968 arguing that Jesus was an extraterrestrial, citing John 8:23 and other biblical verses as evidence. [61]

Some ancient astronaut proponents such as Von Däniken and Barry Downing believe that the concept of hell in the Bible could be a real description of the planet Venus brought to Earth by extraterrestrials showing photos of the hot surface on Venus to humans. [ citation needed ] Proponents of the hypothesis state that 'God' and 'Satan' were aliens that disagreed on whether or not human beings should be allowed the information that is offered by the tree of knowledge. David Childress, a leading proponent of ancient astronaut creation hypothesis, compares this story to the Greek tale of Prometheus, who gave mankind the knowledge of fire. Ancient Astronaut proponents believe the biblical concept of Satan is based on a misunderstood visit by extraterrestrials. Erich von Däniken posited that the descendants of extraterrestrials had children with hominids, and this was referred to in the Bible as the "Original sin." Von Däniken believes that the biblical great flood was punishment after an extraterrestrial 'God' discovered that earthbound, fallen angels were mating with ape-like early humans. [62]

Irish Book of Invasions Edit

Childress and others have written that the passage in the Book of Invasions describing the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann in Ireland, records "the arrival of aliens in spacecraft with cloaking devices" at Slieve Anierin. The text states “so that they were the Tuatha De Danand who came to Ireland. In this wise they came, in dark clouds. They landed on the mountains of Conmaicne Rein in Connacht and they brought a darkness over the sun for three days and three nights". [63]

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