This is hardly worth debunking, except for the fact that it was the very first episode of “Ancient Aliens” I had ever seen. It was on a TV in a hotel, and it was mainly on, appropriately, as background noise. The segment I happened upon was about the Ethiopian city of Lalibela.
They claimed that legend holds Lalibela was created by angels. Anyone who’s watched more than five minutes of “Ancient Aliens” knows, angels = aliens in the eyes of Giorgio and his crew. As usual, there was no other way the structures of Lalibela could have been created without advanced technology.
The narrator claims that “engineers” find that the construction of Lalibela was “scientifically inexplicable.” Fade to David Childress (who is not an engineer, and holds no degree in engineering or anything) who claims that the church builders were using “what would probably have to be POWER TOOLS,” most likely on loan from Atlantean-Olmec Bros Hardware. No evidence of this use of power tools is presented, and no actual engineers are consulted. Outside of Giorgio opining that aliens were misinterpreted as angels, and the usual arguments, there wasn’t really much to say about Lalibela, except as a segway into the Ark of the Covenant, and that being a space alien device.
Even so, there are some claims about Lalibela that need to be addressed. They are as follows
“According to legend, angels joined the laborers by day and at night did double the amount of work which the men had done during the hours of daylight…(King) Lalibela was poisoned by his brother and fell into a three-day coma in which he was taken to Heaven and given a vision of rock-hewn cities. Another legend says that he went into exile to Jerusalem and vowed that when he returned he would create a New Jerusalem.
The main claim it seems is that King Lalibela had a vision from God to create a city, and did so with the help of angels (or aliens) within a short period of time.
Certainly Lalibela is unique, in that it is all carved from the same piece of large stone (or each building is anyways), and relatively rare in its style. Further, the method of construction differed greatly from other ancient megalithic sites in that giant stones were not carried to the site.
“The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiseled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc.”
Despite being an impressive group of churches, construction/excavation was not achieved by aliens, templar knights, or power tools in a short time, but more likely by Ethiopian humans over a long period of time, and even though Lalibela is unique in its scope, it is not the only example of this type of project in the world or even in Ethiopia. There are other older, similar, and smaller monuments in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to the north, all seemingly constructed by normal means.
In other words, the Ethiopians had done this type of building before, which calls into question why Lalibela required aliens or power tools and the other sites at Tigray and elsewhere didn’t. Certainly the Ethiopians had the process down by the point Lalibela was made.
“The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are exceptionally fine examples of a long-established Ethiopian building tradition. Monolithic churches are to be found all over the north and the centre of the country. Some of the oldest of such churches are to be found in Tigray, where some are believed to date from around the 6th or 7th centuries. King Lalibela is believed to have commissioned these structures with the purpose of creating a holy and symbolic place which considerably influenced Ethiopian religious beliefs.”
That’s all very interesting, but did aliens help create Lalibela itself? Were power tools used or even needed?
The answer to both of these questions is, not surprisingly, no.
“They were not constructed, they were excavated with mere hammers and chisels. This astonishing feat alone is enough to earn Lalibela’s position as the eighth wonder of the world. Each church was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of the rock, then chiseling out the interior. The other seven buildings were created from natural clefts and caves in a red cliff.”
Extraordinary, but not impossible. We know the hammer and chisel method was used, because “intricate chisel marks” are plainly evident to the lay observer. More than one even.
If ancient alienites are claiming the use of power tools in the face of obvious chisel marks, one has to ask “why”? Probably the most compelling reason to expect or necessitate power tools or aliens in construction of Lalibela is that legend holds the city was made in 25 years and that angels were involved.
This timescale was recently examined by a French/Ethiopian funded expedition led by Francois Xavier Fauvelle. Fauvelle and the expedition concluded that Lalibela was most likely not completed in one go, but rather in multiple stages.
“Three distinct periods have been identified in the maze of deep tunnels, passageways and chapels.”
Further analysis by the expedition revealed that Lalibela was most likely built as a result of changes and remodels across a wide span of time. After analysis of the abundant construction debris, Fauvelle’s expedition (and prior research of others) concluded that although it was possible that Lalibela was constructed in the 1200’s, it was far more likely that construction happened over a very long period of time. That Lalibela originated as one sort of building, possibly in the 7th to 8th century and changed over the centuries into the churches we see now. They also noted that it was unclear if parts of Lalibela were created in the 12th century, or the 15th. Here’s what they found.
“By contrast, Phillipson (2009:123–82, esp. tables on p.178 and 180) is inclined to ascribe most Lalibela monuments, which would not all necessarily have been initially conceived as churches, to a long period of time between the seventh/eighth and the early twelfth century…The sequence deduced from stratigraphic observation aligns best with the models of Phillipson or Gervers in that it points to several phases of occupation and transformation of the site. However, our sequencing suggests a much longer chronological development culminating in two important monumental phases. Whether the last of these should be assigned to the thirteenth or the fifteenth centuries remains in question.”
They also concluded:
“there is no compelling evidence confirming that it was really built in the thirteenth century.”
The following diagram illustrates a possible evolution of Lalibela throughout its various phases.
Further evidence for Lalibela being a more chronologically dispersed project is the abundant evidence that the site was used as a prison, fortress or palace in the past.
With Lalibela taking centuries to build and rebuild, the need for power tools and aliens quickly erodes. Power tools were not needed for other ancient sites like Puma Punku to achieve smooth stone and near right angles, and there is no evidence or specific claim of use for them at Lalibela. Chisel marks are obvious all over Lalibela, while there is an absence of “power tool marks”.
If there were power tools, where are the broken drill bits or saws? Where are dremel marks, and such? What was the power source and where is it now? If power tools were used, why limit the project to Tigray and Lalibela? If they used power tools, why did the builders purposely work on only the softer, easier to manage rock, while avoiding harder rock?
“The church-builders aimed for the scoriae, which they could cut, but avoided or left unhewn the much harder basalt.”
If power tools were used, one would expect that the basalt would have been worked as well.
More common than the claim of power tools is that angels (or aliens) helped. If angels had helped, they would have been acting out of character, as angels in the Bible never built anything, they acted as messengers and soldiers on specific missions from God. Scabbing union lines to do more work than men just isn’t in the job description of angels as listed in the Bible. And there has yet to be any compelling evidence that angels were aliens, though that is a topic for another day.
In all likelihood, King Lalibela, for whatever reason, happened upon a prexisiting site, and funded the modifications into churches. The legendary aspects added to reinforce his authority and inspire pilgrimages. Or perhaps he merely wanted to do what he felt was his duty to obey God’s call on his life, and later rulers added the legends or twisted facts.
Whatever the case, the evidence overwhelmingly points to the fact that Lalibela was a long term project involving existing structures, many modifications, and conventional tools. There is no evidence for power tools, aliens or non-Ethiopians. Accordingly, Lalibela can be filed as interesting, but not alien.