Agrest, Matest M. (1915–2005)
Matest Agrest was a Russian-born ethnologist and mathematician who, in 1959, proposed that certain monuments of past cultures on Earth have resulted from contact with an extraterrestrial race. His writings, together with those of a few other academics, such as the French archaeologist Henri Lhote, provided a platform for the paleocontact hypothesis which was later popularized and sensationalized through the books of Erich von Däniken and his emulators.1
Born in Mogilev, Byelorussia, Agrest graduated from the University of Leningrad in 1938 and received his Ph.D. in 1946. He became chief of the university's laboratory in 1970. He retired in 1992 and emigrated to the United States. Agrest startled his colleagues in 1959 with his assertion that the giant terrace at Baalbek in Lebanon had been used as a launch site for space vehicles and that the destruction of the Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah (twin cities in ancient Palestine on the plain of Jordan) was caused by a nuclear blast. His son, Mikhail Agrest, has advocated similarly unorthodox views.
1. Shklovskii, I. S., and Sagan, Carl. Intelligent Life in the Universe, pp. 454 and 462, New York: Dell (1966).