Conspiracy theorists claim that 3,000-year-old ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs allegedly depicting a modern helicopter gunship, a fighter jet, and a submarine are proof that the ancient Egyptians had contact with technologically advanced beings.
The so-called “Helicopter Hieroglyphs” were first discovered in 1848 by members of an archaeological expedition who noticed strange hieroglyphic inscriptions — precisely cartouche carvings — on the ceiling of the 3,000-year-old mortuary Temple of Seti I in Abydos, a major archaeological site some hundreds of miles south of Cairo.
The inscriptions, copied carefully by members of the expedition, sparked a debate when they were taken back to Europe and shown to Victorian-era Egyptologists who couldn’t make sense of them at the time.
The controversy over the strange inscriptions was forgotten until the 1990s when tourists who visited the Temple of Seti I in Abydos returned with photographs and videos of the hieroglyphs and uploaded them to the Internet.
The photographs appeared to show hieroglyphic representations of advanced machines unknown to humans before the early twentieth century — a fact which explains why Egyptologists of the Victorian era who first saw copies of the hieroglyphs didn’t know what to make of them.
But to late 20th century and early 21st century viewers, the hieroglyphs look like modern machines. One hieroglyph looks remarkably like a helicopter gunship with rotor blades, a tail fin, and space for side-firing guns.
A second inscription looks like an attempt to represent a submarine or an armored vehicle with a gun turret and a third appears to show a fighter jet with a pilot in the cockpit.
Conspiracy theorists and out-of-place artifact theorists declared the “Helicopter Hieroglyphs” to be proof that beings with advanced technology had visited the ancient Egyptians. According to conspiracy theorists, the hieroglyphs were obvious attempts by ancient scribes to reproduce faithfully what they saw.
The claims sparked furious online debates. Although conspiracy theorists were unanimous that the “Helicotper Hieroglyphs” prove that the ancient Egyptians had been visited by technologically advanced beings, there were conflicting views about the identity of the alleged visitors.
Out-of-place artifact (OOPArt) theorists favored the view that the alleged visitors were human time travelers who went back in time with modern machines, such as aircraft and laptop computers. But UFO and alien conspiracy theorists suggested that the advanced crafts were brought to ancient Egypt by technologically advanced alien races that visited Earth in ancient times and helped the ancient Egyptians attain a high level of technical sophistication.
According to alien and UFO conspiracy theorists, advanced alien races from a distant planetary civilization helped the ancient Egyptians to produce marvels of ancient history such as the great pyramids.
Despite the debate over details, OOPArt theorists and alien-UFO conspiracy theorists agree that although the hieroglyphs do not prove that the ancient Egyptians acquired advanced scientific knowledge and technological skills, they prove that the scribes who produced the inscriptions saw flying machines produced by advanced science and technology.
Conspiracy theorists agree that contact with technologically advanced visitors may have sparked ancient mythologies about gods riding on flying chariots and inspired sacred designs such as the winged Hebrew Ark of the Covenant.
Christian conspiracy theorists who joined the debate suggested that the ancients may have acquired products of advanced technology from the “Sons of God” mentioned in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 6: 1-4). Some added that the “Nephilim,” identified in the Old Testament scriptures (Genesis 6:4) as an ancient hybrid race of giants, helped to speed up the emergence of early human civilization because their superior intelligence allowed them to develop advanced scientific knowledge and technology.
The “Nephilim” were supposedly offspring of the “Sons of God” (Benei ha’elohim or “fallen angels”) and the “daughters of men.”
But UFO and alien conspiracy theorists believe that the biblical “Sons of God” were not spirit beings or heavenly angels but technologically advanced alien races that contacted ancient civilizations.
However, Egyptologists dismiss these claims as pure fantasy and attribute the confusion of ancient hieroglyphs with modern machines to a psychological phenomenon called “apophenia,” which refers to the tendency of the human brain to perceive familiar patterns in otherwise random data.
Skeptics claim that some images of the “Helicopter Hieroglyphs” uploaded to the internet were altered digitally to enhance the impression that the hieroglyphs were representations of modern machines.
Egyptologists also say that the odd appearance of the inscriptions was due to the fact that the cartouche on which the hieroglyphs were inscribed was reused by many generations of scribes. After the first inscriptions were created during the reign of Seti I (died c. 1279 BCE), the same space was reused during the reign of Ramses II (died C. 1213 BCE) whose scribes carved new inscriptions on top of the previous ones, according to Egyptologists.
Thus, the similarity of the inscriptions to helicopter gunships, fighter jets, submarines, and armored vehicles was an unintended “palimpsest effect” enhanced by erosion.
Responding to critics, conspiracy theorists cite claims of existence of identical hieroglyph inscriptions discovered in the Amon Ra Temple in Karnak, another archaeological site in Egypt. Images of the alleged inscriptions, reportedly published by Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, also appear to show helicopters and fighter jets, according to conspiracy theorists.
Conspiracy theorists argue that identical “Helicopter Hieroglyphs” from different sites prove that they were not caused accidentally by scribes carving new inscriptions on top of previous ones.
Conspiracy theorists also argue that proof that technologically advanced beings had contacted ancient civilizations comes from experiments conducted by German aeronautical engineers, Algund Eenboom and Peter Belting, who built a model of a tiny Inca artifact believed to be a scale model of a flying machine and tested it successfully in 1997. The engineers took care to reproduce faithfully the features of the original Inca artifact and found that the aerodynamic features were fully functional.
Out-of-place artifact theorists also cite the case of the ancient Egyptian Saqqara Bird which Egyptologists had assumed was merely a ceremonial object representing a falcon. But OOPArt theorists argued that the design provides clear and unambiguous evidence that the ancient Egyptians were familiar with the basic principle of aeronautics.
According to Egyptian archaeologist Khalil Messiha, the Saqqara Bird proves that the ancient Egyptians had seen functional aircraft because the design replicates the features of a monoplane.
Messiha countered critics who argued that the Saqqara Bird was only a representation of the falcon by pointing out that the object was radically different from other known ancient Egyptian statues and models of falcons. He drew attention to the object’s carefully designed vertical stabilizer. He also noted the absence of legs that enhance the aerodynamic features of the bird. He noted how the wings were set at angles that replicate the design of modern aircraft to optimize aerodynamic lift.
Messiha built a scale model of the Saqqara Bird which he claimed was able to fly after being equipped with a stabilizing horizontal tailplane. But his claim was contested by an investigator called Martin Gregorie, who also built a model and announced that it was unable to fly.
Gregorie’s claim was challenged by aeronautics expert Simon Sanderson, who tested a model of the Saqqara Bird in a wind tunnel at the Liverpool University without a tailplane and announced that it produced significant lift.
Conspiracy theorists also refute critics by pointing to alleged depictions and references to flying machines in the art and sacred writings of other ancient cultures, such as the Chinese, and ancient texts from the Indian empire of Rama. Ancient texts from the Empire of Rama include references to flying machines called “Vimanas.”
[Image via Olek95/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain]