Turning to Stone

Colin MillerSymbolic World Icon
November 7, 2023

About twelve years ago in a coal mine over half a mile deep beneath Donetsk, in Ukraine, workers found a wheel embedded in the hard sandstone, reckoned by geologists to be about 300 million years old. The original wood from which the wheel had been made had turned to stone in a process called diagenesis or petrification. It was embedded in a way that the outline and relief could be clearly seen, but given the constraints of the mining operation, only a few photographs could be made before they had to move on with their work and the shaft was filled in with rubble and again flooded with the waters beneath the earth.

The wheel the miners found.

Who made this wheel? How did it end up deep in the earth encased in stone so many millions of years older than human civilization was even thought to exist? What is it about the story of the finding of this ancient wheel that makes it so interesting to some people?  The account of this discovery can be found in many articles on the internet1, mostly on websites dedicated to “alternative” ancient history, typically including speculation about aliens from other worlds. Often is it said that aliens may have brought their technology, and possibly even seeded mankind itself on this planet. Many consider this pseudoscience, the close relative to conspiracy theory. But, as we have observed with conspiracy theories,2 there is usually an element of truth or a coherent pattern to these theories that has value, even if they may be lacking in other aspects. The same is true for ancient alien theories, and as we will see, there is more than one way to understand the term alien.

In this short article we will also look at the pattern of the ancient stories to which this artifact of a lost civilization seems to point. We will see the similarity of the modern theory to one strain of the myth and how another version teaches us a little bit more. I will offer another way of thinking about the apparent age of the geological record. We will also see some ways in which we find ourselves inside of this story and why it captures the attention of many.

These ancient alien theories follow a pattern similar to some of the ancient myths handed down through the ages. In many of these old stories, a god or some higher being gives some gift such as hidden knowledge to men that winds up bringing disorder into the world. Frequently this action brings on the anger of a higher god who then punishes the lesser god and sometimes men as well. A familiar example of this pattern is the story of Prometheus. In the most famous part of this myth, he steals fire and brings it to mankind. As punishment for this, Zeus has Prometheus bound to a rock. Rather than being a cautionary tale, a way this story is often told makes Prometheus somewhat of a hero for doing this, much the same way most ancient alien theories focus more on the technology and speculation on how it can be recovered, and less on what might have happened to the civilization that received it.

Prometheus Bound, by Nicolas-Sébastien Adam (detail) – in the Louvre

Next, I will follow two more traditional stories with details coming from two related texts. The Book of Genesis in the Bible has the most authoritative version of these stories in the Jewish and Christian tradition and the Book of Enoch is also considered good for filling in much that is not included in the Genesis account. The first story establishes the pattern that the second follows. Here they are, particularly emphasizing the aspects that touch the ancient alien theory and possibly the origin of this found artifact.

The first story is the story of man soon after his creation, and it is told in the persons of Adam and Eve. They are in the garden and in harmony with their creator and the rest of creation. Then another being is introduced into the story; the serpent. His entrance into the story seems a bit strange perhaps. We were told of the creation of all the animals, including “every thing that creepeth upon the earth,” (Genesis 1:25) but this one that speaks seems to be at least a bit out of the order we have encountered so far. There is another dimension to this snake, one that gives him a major role and one that will get the story really turning.

Those familiar with the story will know that this subtil creature (Genesis 3:1) with its origins more in the spiritual than physical realm, was watching the woman in the Garden and desired to take her and possess her with his words of temptation. She took the forbidden fruit with its seed from the tree he offered, passed this on to Adam and we had the beginning of what we know as the Fall and the expulsion from Paradise. The pristine relationship of heaven and earth was cracked and a degree of contention seeped in, between man and heaven and between man and the earth. On their way out of the Garden, God gave them garments of skin, simple clothing to give them some protection from the world at the start of their new mode of life.

Eve Tempted, by Hiram Powers (detail) – in the Smithsonian

The second story is also a familiar one that follows a few chapters after the first in the text of Genesis and relates to it in a way which may not be immediately obvious. In the days before the Flood of Noah, there were some angels who had been assigned to watch over men as they learned to live outside of the garden. They saw the beauty of the daughters of men, rebelled, and took them as wives. This was something they had been forbidden to do. To these wives and their offspring, who were often giants, they taught many arts and technologies, such as the use of certain plants, the art of female cosmetics, metallurgy and making of weapons. This new knowledge greatly increased man’s power to produce things in the world, for good or for evil. These new supplements, the medicines, paints, weapons and machines were not put to the use of making the men themselves more virtuous, and sadly, the evil effects are what became dominant. “And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.” (1 Enoch 8:2)  “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”  (Genesis 6:11) “And the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness.” (1 Enoch 9:9)

Victory Stele of Naram-Sin (detail) – in the Louvre

In the book of 1 Enoch, these fallen angels are referred to as the Watchers, because of the original role given to them by God to watch and protect His new creation. Their fall and the further corruption of mankind with the events that follow is an echo of that story of the first fall but on the scale of all mankind. The story that took place in the Garden told us the story of the fall of the first two people. Now the story has moved up to the level of the civilization men built. It is a macrocosmic version of the first story following the same pattern. The garments of skin given to Adam and Eve as they leave the Garden are now all the tools and supplements they must make in order to survive in the world.3 And the role of temptation is present now in the fallen angels, whose origins in the spiritual realm are mysterious and which make them somewhat like aliens to us in this world. The technologies they give men are a tainted imitation of the garments given by the creator. These beings had broken the order and mingled themselves with the daughters of men producing the giants that ravaged the culture of that time, bringing on the accusation from the earth and the wrath of the Creator.

Up to this point, it may not be obvious what these stories have to do with that wheel the miners found. Hopefully now, this will become clear:

When God saw “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth… it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at his heart.” (Genesis 6 5-6) The fall of those angels and the increase of such evil upon the world, coupled with the provocation of the Creator and his wrath poured out to drown his good Creation, must have been terrible to witness. These cataclysmic events would shake the world down to its smallest constituent particles. Even the lowest levels of the substance of the world are contingent on the good will of their creator, just as references to “Creation groaning” and “Creation rejoicing” in response to their Maker’s disposition to the world found throughout the scriptures describe.4 In this story it must have been more like a terrified cry, as the stone of the earth itself was touched with this corruption, became involved in this cosmic scandal and accused them.

“Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.” (1 Enoch 7:6)

So God said “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13) And soon after “all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:11-12) “upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:20-23) And the book of Enoch tells us the fate of the leader of the rebellious Watchers: “The Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness…”  (1 Enoch 10:4-5)


The very matter of the earth would have also felt the will to unleash catastrophe well up through the depths of its being. It is not difficult to imagine that a fearful pressure such as this could perhaps manifest itself in great petrification in both the symbolic and geologic senses. As Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt when she turned to see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and as men’s hair is said to sometimes turn white in extreme cases of fear and duress, so perhaps in a symbolic way, we might say that the Earth aged a great amount in that brief span of forty days of fury. What may appear to be an age of millions of centuries, could perhaps have been the result of just those days.

Lot’s Wife rock formation at the Sanctuary of Agios Lot in Jordan

From the view we have from our time, we see that the sand and the mud and that wheel swirling under the torrents have all frozen, turned to stone deep beneath the surface of the earth. They tell a story about something that happened long ago. The ancient wheel that the miners found and touched with their hands down in that mineshaft may have felt familiar to men used to handling tools. To these men, that wheel may not have felt millions of years old. It may have felt about the same as the modern things they had held in their hands that very day. They were used to handling tools that had often led them into dangerous places.

Whether they have extraterrestrial beings, mythical gods or great traditions in their minds, there is a real pattern that these people are seeing through their various lenses. This pattern is a higher perspective that should reveal another level of reality for us to consider. Along with the added power given into our hands in the form of technology, quintessentially represented by a wheel, there are deeper implications that go with it.

Indeed, the ancient alien stories on the internet, like some of the oldest stories we know, can help us think about our world, how we got here and what we need to watch for. To most of us, the devices we carry with us every day and often spend hours giving our attention to, might as well have come from outer space for as much as we understand how the technology works. If we just focus on understanding the machines scientifically or just use them without thinking further about the larger narrative they are a part of, we may be missing something very important.

In the language of the old story in Genesis, our “garments of skin”, those extensions and supplements, like technology, that we add to ourselves, have grown heavy around us, maybe even to the point where they begin to consume us. Perhaps we think of the giants of our own day, producing these seemingly magical things that wrap around our senses like a mask and bind our attention as if by a spell. They also become weapons with which we battle our virtual neighbor, likely to the satisfaction of the ones who gave them to us. They become the wheels of a great machine rolling us closer to the edge. Perhaps we feel like there are still some of those giants among us giving us things that fascinate us, and watch us closely.

“And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind.” (1 Enoch 7:3-4) The old story is still new.

Our intuition is good if we think that understanding the story of this wheel’s origin may teach us something important. This is what makes the story of the finding of it so interesting to us. Perhaps we cannot help but think of the man who once used that wheel. Did he have any sort of misgiving about the ones who gave it to him? Did the deluge that washed him and his world away come as a surprise?  If we are to avoid a similar fate we would do well to look more deeply at the story we find ourselves in. We would do well to look past the tools now in our hands and think about how closely the story of our time fits the ancient pattern.

This article is currently being edited and will be reposted soon

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¹ https://www.ancient-origins.net/unexplained-phenomena/ancient-wheel-0010997



These are just a few examples, internet and YouTube searches will yield many more appearances of this story. The most complete account I found was from this book:
Robinson, J.P. The Myth Of Man, Hidden History and the Ancient Origins of Humankind. Earthrise Books, 2018


²  Pageau, Jonathan. “The Symbolism of Conspiracy Theory,” video, Symbolic World website and YouTube. March, 2019  https://thesymbolicworld.com/videos/the-symbolism-of-conspiracy-theory-alex-jones-on-joe-rogan/

³  Pageau, Jonathan. “Garments of Death, Garments of Life,” video, Symbolic World website and YouTube. April, 2018
This idea is also found in many other articles and videos, but this is a good introduction if you are not familiar with the term.

⁴  Romans 8:22 - For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

1 Chronicles 16:31 - Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth.

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