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Born in Switzerland in 1935, Erich von Däniken is widely regarded as the father of ancient alien theory, also known as ancient astronaut theory. He published his first of 26 books in 1968 while working as the manager of a five-star hotel. In "Chariots of the Gods?," Däniken put forth his controversial hypothesis that, thousands of years ago, space travelers from other planets visited Earth, where they taught humans about technology and influenced ancient religions. As evidence, he pointed to religious texts in which heavenly beings with supernatural powers descend from the sky. He also suggested that extraterrestrials with superior knowledge of engineering helped ancient civilizations build architectural marvels like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Maoi statues of Easter Island.

"Chariots of the Gods?" appeared at a time when aliens and space travel loomed large in film, fiction and popular culture. It was the era of "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Star Trek" and Frank Herbert's "Dune" series. Däniken's ideas thrived in this climate, and his book became an immediate bestseller in the United States and Germany. It can now be read in more than 30 languages and has seen 40 printings to date. Over the years, Däniken has attracted a large group of followers, many of whom have conducted and published their own research, although he has also received criticism from some within the scientific community.

For more than four decades, Erich von Däniken has been writing and speaking about the notion that mankind and aliens crossed paths in the distant past. His work has inspired documentary features and television specials while capturing the imaginations of multiple generations of people around the world.


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Age: 81 years old
Birthday: April 14, 1935
Birthplace: Zofingen, Switzerland

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