Mysteries of the Ancients

[Tranquility Bay, the Moon. We see a busy highway thick with car dealerships. Pan right to show a small motel]

VOICEOVER: It all began eleven years ago behind one of these nondescript motel cabins near the famous Tranquility “Motor Mile” here in the lunar lowlands. Arthur Wingtip, owner of the Uncle Art’s Komfort Kabins, was digging a hole for a new septic system when he hit on this.

[File footage of bent metal box on stilts being carefully uncovered by archaeologists. Cut to Art Wingtip.]

WINGTIP: Well, first off I reckoned it was just some old junk next to the irrigation ditch there, so I commenced to cutting it up for scrap. But it seemed mighty old and queer-like.

VOICEOVER: Mighty old, indeed. Carbon dating showed it was truly ancient in origin, dating to perhaps as early as the second millennium. Initial guesswork based on the design suggested it was simply an old Centaurian auxilliary launch. Yet, amazingly, subsequent investigation indicated it was of human origin. If true, this means that humans may have been on the moon over twenty five hundred years ago, fully seven hundred fifty years earlier than previously thought possible. Tonight on Mysteries of the Ancients, we probe the secrets of Tranquility and rethink ancient human history.

[Show intro graphics, sponsor product placement]

VOICEOVER: How indeed could the primitive humans of the second millennium have crossed the lunar divide so early? We began our investigation by talking to Col. Tarkus Ludlow of the New Cleveland Military Academy and author of the bestselling book, “Astride Lady Luna: Prehistoric Man on the Moon”.

COLONEL LUDLOW: Since humans weren’t up to the task of space travel, the big question is how else could this relic have gotten where it is? I’ve been working on several theories based on orbital dynamics. First I thought a massive meteor impact could have blown pieces of Earth, including this spaceship, onto the moon. Unfortunately an impact that large would have exterminated all life on Earth. Now I’m convinced that for a brief time in the latter second millennium the Moon orbited the Earth so closely it actually touched for months at a time. This means primitive humans were thus able to walk across a land bridge separating the two bodies, taking with them such objects as walking sticks, domesticated pack animals, and this proto-spaceship.

VOICEOVER: Col. Ludlow’s theory, while selling well in the bookstores, doesn’t impress Professor Friedrich Kronkel of the City University of New New New York on Mars.

PROF. KRONKEL: It’s absolute rubbish to talk of a land bridge; such an event is physically out of the question, and it ignores a wealth of evidence pointing at the real solution: alien translocation. We now know that the earliest Centaurian saucers were reaching Earth around this time, and within 1500 years Earth had become a popular tourism destination for Centaur. It would have been a simple matter for a Centaur visitor to pop something this size over to the Moon. The Centaurians have openly admitted, for example, that they built the so-called Egyptian pyramids dating from around this period.

VOICEOVER: Despite its obvious appeal, this theory, too, has its detractors, chief among them Dr. Felix Squidhammer, a historian and specialist in paleo-engineering from the State College of New South New North Carolina here in the lunar lowlands.

DR. SQUIDHAMMER: I’ve lived in this region my whole life, and over the years I’ve accumulated tantalizing scraps of evidence that indicate we’ve underestimated what these early humans could do.

VOICEOVER: Dr. Squidhammer believes that an early explorer named Leif Armstrong not only visited, but may have even started a colony on the Moon, a colony called “Greencheese” in the hope of encouraging early settlers to come to the then-barren Moon. But how? Dr. Squidhammer.

DR. SQUIDHAMMER: We’ve looked at a number of inter-planetary travel possibilities available to humans of this era. We ruled out a really really tall tower as being too bendy. For several years we thought they may have launched themselves with a giant slingshot, but our calculations showed that the elastic cable required would have been over 600 miles in length. It was only in the last year or so that one of my colleagues, Miles Kerdge, stumbled across an archaic “world wide web” page used by early scribes. It showed the design of a “trebuchet”, or bucket catapult, known to be in use in the second millennium. We believe a trebuchet a quarter of a mile high could have launched early man into orbit.

VOICEOVER: “Mysteries of the Ancients” decided to put Dr. Squidhammer’s theory to the test. We gathered 325 volunteers in Newcastle-upon-Earth in northern England to see if we could build such a trebuchet.

[Shot of a spindly trebuchet going up, not looking very stable. Teams of sullen men are pulling enormous cables in the foreground]

DR. KERDGE: [sunburned and sweating, squinting up at the structure] The more I study this period, the more I am impressed with what they achieved. We decided to dress our volunteers in clothing appropriate to engineers of the era: dark synthetic “slacks”, white shirts like this, this plastic pouch and talismans worn in the shirt pocket like so, and these curious eye protectors. Imagine banging pegs into hardwood all day long, clinging to scaffolding a quarter mile or so in the air, wearing only this simple outfit. Incredible, really.

VOICEOVER: Unfortunately, after three days in the heat hauling on cables to erect the device, more than half the volunteers quit. The unfinished trebuchet managed to fling a stoat six dozen yards, but proof of translunar insertion was inconclusive. The trebuchet theory must go untested for another year.

[Cut to the historic monument behind the Komfort Kabins in Tranquility Bay. We see tourists lining up to take pictures of the graffiti-scrawled vehicle]

Yet the indomitable spirit of man the discoverer continues. Someday we will unravel this mystery, even as we uncover clues to even more puzzling mysteries. Next week on “Mysteries of the Ancients”: The Hokey Pokey — What Was It All About? Coming up next, stay tuned for Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.