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        Ancient Aviators: (Evidence for Prehistoric Flight)

Leonardo da Vinci was fully aware of the potential for human flight ... but the human aspiration to fly appears to go much farther back into antiquity than a mere few hundred years....

 

   Myths of Flight:

A number ancient myths and traditions record the ability of flight:

From Babylonian mythology we have the story of Etana, who flies on a giant eagle:

'One of the earliest preserved records of flight is in a Babylonian set of laws Halkatha, which contains the passage: "To operate a flying machine is a great privilege. Knowledge of flying is most ancient, a gift from the gods of old for saving lives". The Babylonian "Epic of Etana" describing his prehistoric flight is preserved for us in a fragmentary text and cuneiform dating back to a period between 3,000 and 2,400  B.C. (2).

 

From Greek mythology we have the story of Daedalus and Icarus:

In Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid describes Daedalus as a highly skilled architect and the designer of the Cretan maze. On its completion, he became homesick, and fearing king Minos would prevent him returning, he decided to build a flying machine.

Extract from Metamorphosis: "The king may block my way by land or across the ocean, but the sky, surely, is open, and that is how we shall go.....With these words, he set his mind to sciences never explored before, and altered the laws of nature."

He eventually completed two flying craft, one for himself and the other for his son Icarus. It is said that Daedalus prepared his son with the rudiments of flight, and cast a watchful eye over him whilst in the air. They then headed out from Crete across the Aegean Sea.

The story climaxes with Ovid's memorable description of Icarus ignoring his fathers instructions and soaring ever higher, till the wax of the wings began to melt and he was "swallowed up in the deep blue waters, which are now called after him".

Even if this particular story by Ovid is not based on a memory of a real event, it certainly conjures up the idea that flight was considered possible at that time.

 

 

Indian Mythology has several prominent passages which refer to flying vehicles called Vimana.

(Scroll down for more about Vimana)

 

 

 

   The Model Aeroplanes:

The following images are from both Egypt and South America.

They depict examples of what are commonly referred to as 'Zoomorphic models'.

 

The Columbian 'planes': Considered to be well over a thousand years old, this tiny gold object certainly has a similar appearance to a modern aeroplane. Thought to come from a pre-Incan culture, it measures just two inches long.

Apart from the obvious overall similarity to a plane, the object has several interesting features. What is most noticeable about this object is the tail-fins, never seen in nature, but specifically placed for aerodynamics. There is also what appears to be a 'cockpit', and it is said that the resemblance to a modern plane was complete even to the existence of an insignia on the tail fin which has been likened to the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet (first of the Torah)- the letter Beth.

This particular ‘model’ is on display in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Its explanation states: “gold artefact, a stylised insect, from the Quimbaya culture, Antioquia province, Columbia, ca. 1000-1500 AD.”

Elsewhere on the continent at least six very similar artefacts were also discovered in Venezuela and Peru, and also in the Central American state of Costa Rica (see photo above).

 

The Saqqara-'bird-object' - Was discovered in a tomb near Saqqara, Egypt. It was dated at approximately 200 B.C., and was catalogued in the Cairo Museum of Antiquities as Special Register No. 6347, Rm. 22. (2).

       

From Saqqara, Egypt: Dated approx. 200 BC. (3)

We can see from the photos above of the sycamore object, discovered during the 1898 excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb at Saqqara, and in the 14 other Egyptian 'zoomorphic' models so far discovered, that all the objects include an upright tail-fin, a feature not seen in nature, and therefore more likely the result of deliberate experimentation in aerodynamics ...

When a blueprint of the object was made, it was realised that all of its highly accurate proportions were present in ratios of 2:1 or 3:1, suggesting that the model was the result of much calculation and experimentation. Several other 'model planes' have been identified from other tombs, bringing the total number of Egyptian gliders to fourteen (1977) (2).

(More about Saqqara)

 

 

   The Abydoss Vehicles:

A great deal of attention is given to the engravings in the temple of Seti I, at Abydoss, Egypt.

Their apparent similarity to modern vehicles is impelling,  but it has now been reasonably demonstrated that they are the product of two sets of hieroglyphs, one superimposed over another... and however unusual that may seem, the idea seems borne out by looking further along the beam... (note the Ankh in the central image).

So, what we see is a palimpsest, something that never was intended to be seen like it is now. It used to be that only one set of hieroglyphs had been visible, first one then the other. Then the plaster fell out of the stone.

(More about Abydoss)

 

 

 

   The Indian Vimana's:

The Indian sacred scriptures make numerous references to flight. Incredibly, the most ancient and sacred texts discuss high speed manoeuvres, invisibility, and even a flight to the moon.

India has a particularly rich tradition of ancient flying machines. An ancient collection of sacred Hindu books, the Samaranga Sutradhara, contains over 200 hundred stanzas concerning almost every aspect of flying. The International Academy of Sanskrit research conducted a special study into this work and published its findings in a book entitled Aeronautics, a Manuscript From the Prehistoric Past. What emerged was a knowledge of avaiation - machines, and equipment, that came astonishingly close to what we know today.

These ancient texts speak of the flying machines as Vimanas. They possessed "carefully welded joints", and were heated and driven "by controlled fire from the iron containers..." . This sounds remarkably like modern jet powered planes, even down to the noise that they made. This was like "the roar of a lion", by which the whole thing was set in motion so that "the traveller sitting inside the Vimana may travel in the air, to such a distance as to look like a pearl in the sky"!

 

The Hindu Samaranga Sutadhara contains 230 stanzas that are devoted to flight. It describes in detail, every possible aspect of flying.  The International Academy off Sanskrit Research in Mysore, India, conducted a study of the ancient texts and published its findings in a book called 'Aeronautics, a manuscript From the Prehistoric Past'. The following are a few translated excerpts from the text:

'The aircraft which can go by its own force like a bird - on the earth or water or through the air - is called a Vimana. That which can travel in the sky from place to place is called a Vimana by the sage of old.'

'The body must be strong and durable and built of a light wood [Lagha-daru], shaped like a bird in flight with wings outstretched [mahavinhanga]. Within it must be placed the mercury engine, with its heating apparatus made of iron underneath'.

'In the larger craft [Daru-vimana], because it is built heavier, [alaghu], four strong containers of mercury must be built into the interior. When these are heated by controlled fire from the iron containers, the Vimana possesses thunder power through the mercury. The iron engine must have properly welded joints to be filled with mercury, and when the fire is conducted to the upper parts, it develops power with the roar of a lion. By means of the energy latent in mercury, the driving whirlwind is set in motion, and the traveller sitting inside the Vimana may travel in the air, to such a distance as to look like a pearl in the sky'.(2).

(More about Prehistoric India)

 

 

   Ancient Chinese References to Flight:

Chinese Mythology contains some of the earliest references of flight:

In 1766 BC the Emperor Cheng Tang apparently succeeded in having a flying craft built. He subsequently ordered its destruction to prevent anyone else discovering the secret of flight.

In the 3rd century BC the Chinese poet Chu Yun made a detailed aerial survey of the Gobi desert, giving special praise to the durability of his craft over wind and sand storms.

Written records of oral traditions from Nepal also mention powered flight. They also acknowledge that the real secrets of flight were known only to the Yavanas.

 

Taketonbo; The "Bamboo dragonfly") is a Chinese children's toy invented around 400 BC (4). It essentially consists of a propeller on a stick, and rolling the stick in the right direction spins the propeller, causing the toy to "take off" when it is let go of.

(More about Prehistoric China)

 

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References:

1). Ivan Van Sertima. Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern. Journal of African Civilisations.
2). Peter Lancaster Brown.  'Megaliths, Myths and Men'. 1977. Book Club Associates.
3). Catalogue of Artifacts, Cairo Egyptian Museum.
4). Leishman, J. Gordon. Principles of Helicopter Aerodynamics. 2006. Cambridge University Press.
9). Rene Noorbergen. Secrets of the Lost Races. New English Library. 1977.

Further Research:

http://www.projet22.com/archeologie/artefacts/article/objets-zoomorphiques-ailes-d (French)

 

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