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Proponents suggest that this contact influenced the development of modern cultures, technologies, and religions. Proponents of the ancient astronaut hypotheses often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) who landed on Earth thousands of years ago.
A common position is that deities from most, if not all, religions are extraterrestrial in origin, and that advanced technologies brought to Earth by ancient astronauts were interpreted as evidence of divine status by early humans. 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".
Von Däniken also states that geographically separated historical cultures share artistic themes, which he argues imply a common origin.
However, Shklovski and Sagan stressed that these ideas were speculative and unproven.
Shklovski 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; and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with aliens.
Modern astronomy has found no evidence to support Sitchin's ideas.
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.
Well-known proponents in the latter half of the 20th century who have written numerous books or appear regularly in mass media include Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Robert K. 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.