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Q: Who 'invented' aliens? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   9 Comments )
Subject: Who 'invented' aliens?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: ianuk-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 15 Jul 2004 12:58 PDT
Expires: 14 Aug 2004 12:58 PDT
Question ID: 374621
One of those silly conversations that takes place in a (UK)
office..... While talking about films, someone jokingly said that they
thought that America 'invented' aliens for the sake of US films.  The
conversation drifted then on to who *did* 'invent' aliens?  Rather, my
question is, what are the earliest recorded popular references to the
concept of aliens?  If the response is that there is some obscure
reference in 10,000BC in some ancient manuscript, when did the notion
of aliens become part of popular culture?

Clarification of Question by ianuk-ga on 15 Jul 2004 14:12 PDT
Rather stupid of me; I knew what I meant by 'alien', but of course it
actually has a much wider definition.  I don't refer to 'alien' simply
as when was the word invented or first used in reference to 'outsier'.
 I do specifically mean 'aliens' as in martians, from other planets,

Equally, my question really is as simple as it first looks.  I'm not
interested in evidence of crop circles or sightings, etc., my question
simply is, when did ordinary folk (time, country) start referring to
little green men (or whatever), with a similar understanding to what
we have now?

Thanks for inputs thus far.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 15 Jul 2004 14:46 PDT
If you're referring to the public's fascination with little green men,
blame it on the Italians.  Specifically, Giovanni Schiparelli's report
in 1877 about the "canali" on Mars fueled intense worldwide
speculation about life on the red planet, capped in 1910 by the
publication of a book on the topic by the very eminent American
astronomer, Lowell:

This is probably the best accounting for the modern origin of the
notion of "aliens".

Is this what you are asking about, or are you specifically focused on
the use of the term "aliens" as a description of extra-terrestrial


Clarification of Question by ianuk-ga on 15 Jul 2004 15:12 PDT
The question was only a trivial and meandering one from the outset. 
Nonetheless, your latter point does encompass perfectly how I would
(/should) have phrased the question.  To paraphrase your clarification
request, I am indeed asking roughly when (and where, if relevant) the
use of the term "aliens" as a description of extra-terrestrial life
entered every-day life.

This is a subject that has already become rather more interesting than
I originally anticipated.  The varied discussion provided by
'comments' is all most enlightening.  Thanks again to all

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 15 Jul 2004 16:23 PDT
Nothing definitive, but I did find this reference in a Los Angeles
Times article from September 8, 1958 about a sci-fi double feature --
The Blob, and I Married a Monster from Outer Space:


Weird Stories to Be Screened on Double Bill

Strange half-human creatures from another planet, spaceship and rocket
flights figure in the twin shock program...

..."I Married a Monster From Outer Space" tells the story of a
vanguard of aliens who intend to conquer the earth.


I'm sure I've seen that one!


Request for Question Clarification by techtor-ga on 16 Jul 2004 03:05 PDT
Hello Ianuk, 
When looked around, I saw mention of Camille Flammarion, a French
astronomer. He is attributed to have had in 1864 the first idea of an
alien, in his nonfiction work Real and Imaginary Worlds. This is the
first mention of an 'alien' in the concept we know today, discounting
references to strange beings in the works cited by others below and in
ancient texts. Would this be the kind of answer you are looking for?

Clarification of Question by ianuk-ga on 16 Jul 2004 14:19 PDT
That is indeed the kind of answer I was seeking.  The references by
more than one correspondent to ancient Indian writings are most
interesting; I was not previously aware of Vimanas.  Your line of
thought of finding the earliest known reference in books seems also to
have been the one taken by jjlawton in his or her comment - but you
have beaten them by some 28 years (though they refer to novels).  I
did vaguely ask for evidence of entering 'popular culture' - a work of
mainstream fiction is obviously a perfect example of this.  The extent
to which this applies to a nonfiction work by an astronomer obviously
depends on the case.  If you feel that this discussion is reaching the
end of its course  and that this work influenced common thinking, then
feel free to post it as an answer.

In response to Pafalafa's requests, your citations are all perfectly
valid responses for which I am grateful.  Nonetheless, if Techtor's
reference is confirmed to have been influential, we cannot doubt its
being earlier than 1877.

My difficulty in responding to your requests is that I cannot identify
a definitive answer.  As researchers, if you genuinely feel that your
response is the best answer to my question (and its later
clarifications), please do post it as 'the' answer.

Thanks again
Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
Answered By: techtor-ga on 17 Jul 2004 06:38 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Ianuk, 
Thanks for responding, and allowing someone to post an answer. I have
decided to take the chance for it.

I'll show the URL below of the website where I found the information
about Camille Flammarion (actually Nicolas Camille Flammarion) and his
conceptualizing the 'alien from another world' as we know it today. In
fact, there is a "Timeline of Alien Representation in Science Fiction"
in this webpage, so I believe this is the nost definite piece of
information we can get on this topic. It is likely that
science-fiction writers drew from Flammarion's concept in their works.
I've seen no other resource on the Web so far touching on this topic.

Illegal Aliens - Class Day Notes On Aliens
- Has the "Timeline of Alien Representation in Science Fiction".

Are the Extraterrestrials Who First Came to Earth Still Here?
- Here, Zecharia Sitchin is indirectly quoted, that the Sumerians had
a notion of intelligent life in other worlds, called the Anunnaki in
their mythology. This, aside from the Hindu mentions of Vimanas, could
be among the earliest notions of beings from other worlds, though not
in the way we know it today.

Here is a biography of Nicolas Camille Flammarion (February 26, 1842 -
June 3, 1925):

Google search terms used:
first idea aliens
first idea extra-terrestrials
camille flammarion

I hope you have found this answer satisfactory. If you need something
clarified, or have a problem with the answer, do please post a Request
for Clarification before rating and I shall respond as soon as I can.
Thank you.
ianuk-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
The timeline did clinch this for me - I found no such thing on the
web, so I appreciate your comment that it was hard to find!  Thanks
also for your offer of further help, although your answer is more than
sufficient.  Thanks again.

Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 15 Jul 2004 13:31 PDT
Here's an article that I think you'll find interesting:
Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: probonopublico-ga on 15 Jul 2004 13:34 PDT
In UK culture, aliens were the immigrants whom some believed to be
undesirable in the earliest 20th Century or so. Many were Jewish who
had fled from the pogroms of Tsarist Russia.

Perhaps inevitably, Hollywood extarpolated this to aliens from Outer Space.

Well, that's my take, for what it's worth.

Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: omnivorous-ga on 15 Jul 2004 13:36 PDT
Ianuk --

If you want to see some interesting speculation on ancient images of
spacecraft, use the following Google search strategy:
vimanas + spacecraft

Here's a pretty good collection of articles on the topic:

What's clear is that communities are afraid of the unknown and often
have myths to deal with the unexplainable.  Several of the American
indigenous tribes were ripe for exploitation by early explorers
because the strangers looked like gods who had been predicted in

As you probably know, a rash of UFO sightings started shortly after
World War II and helped popularize the idea that aliens might have an
interest in earthlings.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: jjlawton-ga on 15 Jul 2004 14:39 PDT

Please see:

This puts the first mention of aliens/alien invasions at 1892 in the
novel "The Germ Growers, six years before H.G. Wells The War of the

Google Keywords use: alien historical overview
Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: tutuzdad-ga on 15 Jul 2004 16:59 PDT
Whether there's anything to it or not I don't know, but this fellow,
and in fact many others, claim that ancient texts indicate that the
ancient Sumarians once believed some 3000 years ago that
extraterrestrials from the plant Nibiru not only visited the earth,
but governed it and eventially created mankind.

Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: tutuzdad-ga on 15 Jul 2004 17:26 PDT
If this is true (not that aliens actually visited the earth, but that
these ancient people BELIEVED that they did) this would certainly seem
to be the first mention of legendary alien beings and UFO's in our

Let me know if this answer works for you.

Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: tutuzdad-ga on 15 Jul 2004 19:15 PDT
Oannes, an advanced creature from whom civilization in ancient Sumaria
was said to have originated is also believed to have been a creature
from another world. (3rd Century BC)

Some ancient Indian writings are also said to contain references to
"flying machines" and even space travel.

Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: techtor-ga on 17 Jul 2004 21:42 PDT
Thanks for the five-star rating and the tip! I'm glad the answer gave
you what you needed.
Subject: Re: Who 'invented' aliens?
From: neilzero-ga on 26 Jul 2004 12:26 PDT
There have been tales of angels, gargols, trols, ghosts, leprcans for
at least 3000 years. Perhaps half the population believed, sort of
kinda, that one or more of these beings really existed. After the
telescope was pefected, some of these sightings were attributed to
aliens = off planet beings = ET = Extraterestrial = EBE = extra
terrestrial biological entity, by a gradually increasing percentage of
the population. The terrestrial lables have faded. The beings have
become more technologically advanced as illustrated by the movie: The
day the Earth stood still. Only in 21st century has the number of
believers decreased and it is still about half of Earth's population =
3.1 billion people. It is difficult to pick a date or event as the
transition to alien occured at different times in different countries.

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