The Abydos carvings are mysterious carved hieroglyphs which were found on a ceiling beam in the temple of Seti I in Abydos. Source: merlin74 / Adobe Stock

Helicopter Hieroglyphs? Debunking the “Mystery” of the Abydos Carvings


In the ancient city of Abydos, within the famed temple of Seti I, strange hieroglyphs were discovered on the ceiling. Appearing to depict modern or extraterrestrial vehicles, some claim that the Abydos carvings are evidence of ancient astronauts visiting Egypt over 3,000 years ago.

The temple of Seti I at Abydos, home to the mysterious Abydos carvings. (merlin74 / Adobe Stock)

The temple of Seti I at Abydos, home to the mysterious Abydos carvings. ( merlin74 / Adobe Stock)

Temple of Seti I and the Abydos Carvings

The sacred city of Abydos, near Al-Balyanā on the west bank of the Nile, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt encompassing a vast area of about 8 km2 (3.08 mi2). Originally it was a necropolis for Egyptian royalty during the 1st and 2nd dynasties - although some remains have been discovered from earlier - and then became a pilgrimage destination for worshiping Osiris.

Over time, the temple of Osiris was expanded by a succession of pharaohs, some of whom built monumental cenotaphs or mortuary temples at the site. The beautifully decorated temple of Seti I, the ancient Egyptian king from the 19th dynasty who ruled from 1290 to 1279 BC and son of Ramses I , was one of the most spectacular to have been constructed at Abydos.

The temple of Seti I is best remembered for a long gallery which includes the “Abydos King List” in which Seti I and his son Ramses II can be seen making offerings to the cartouches of 76 dead predecessors, the first being Menes. Behind the mortuary temple of Seti I, visitors can also view a megalithic structure known as the Osireion. Discovered in the early 1900s, the meaning and use of the structure remains unknown. Besides an impressive array of graffiti, both Phoenician and Aramaic, the temple of Seti I has gained attention for what are known as the Abydos carvings.

Interior at the temple of Seti I at Abydos with its stunning carvings. (Vyacheslav Argenberg / CC BY 4.0)

Interior at the temple of Seti I at Abydos with its stunning carvings. (Vyacheslav Argenberg / CC BY 4.0 )

Out-of-Place Artifacts or Palimpsest: Understanding the Abydos Carvings

Also dubbed the “helicopter hieroglyphs,” the Abydos carvings have been interpreted in pseudoscientific circles as being “mysterious” or “out-of-place” artifacts. Proponents of these ideas believe they depict impossibly-modern 20th century or extraterrestrial technology, such as what appears to be either a helicopter, or possibly even a submarine, two planes, or even, wait for it, a UFO, all of which obviously did not exist at the time the hieroglyphs were carved.

From this point of view, espoused by ancient astronaut theorists, these hieroglyphs are seen as proof of extraterrestrial contact in the past. Some of these UFOlogists claim that extraterrestrials were responsible for the construction of famed monuments including the pyramids and Stonehenge, amongst others. While some have argued that the images circulating on the internet are fakes, they are in fact real, but Egyptologists have attempted to offer a more rational explanation for the Abydos carvings.

The Abydos carvings are also known as the helicopter hieroglyphs. (merlin74 / Adobe Stock)

The Abydos carvings are also known as the helicopter hieroglyphs. ( merlin74 / Adobe Stock)

It was common in ancient Egypt for hieroglyphs to be re-carved and re-faced over the years. This process of writing on the same surface more than once is called palimpsest, and it was common practice when a new Pharaoh was establishing a dynasty to write over the hieroglyphs of his predecessors. It is well known that such a process took place at the temple of Seti I in Abydos, during the reign of his son Ramses II.

One blogger named Hypnogogial, claims to “get really irritated at gullibility and slopping thinking” of “New-Age/UFO/Atlantis enthusiasts,” explaining that this portion of the roof support was begun during the reign of Seti I and completed by Ramses II. Therefore, “anywhere it says Seti I, Rameses II is carved over it, or vice versa.” This superimposing of hieroglyphs for one name over the hieroglyphs of the other, along with the erosion that comes over time, creates the visual effect of modern technology where in fact there is none.

In blue the hieroglyphs for the name of Seti I and in green the hieroglyphs for the name of Ramesses II. ( Rain in Cool )

There is a Logical Reason for the Abydos Carvings. Or is There?

However, there is still some disagreement over the palimpsest theory. If the above depictions are indeed “left overs” from previously carved hieroglyphs, the symbols should appear random and unique. Several sources make reference to the Arab newspaper  Al Sharq Al-Awsat having published pictures from the Amon Ra temple in Karnak in which the carvings are very similar to those found in Abydos.

Following this line of reasoning, if the carvings at Karnak are real, the palimpsest theory apparently falls apart. For how, ask ancient astronaut theorists, could Egyptian carvings in a temple dating back over 3,000 years show technology which was created in the 20th century. Were they visited by people from the future?

Or, in keeping with this kind of inquiry, the obvious next step is to wonder whether extraterrestrials visited our planet in some kind of UFO all those centuries ago and ancient Egyptian artists depicted their spacecraft in a corner of a roof support within a temple at Abydos.

It’s very hard to convince the pseudoscientific of the need for true scientific inquiry. The mere mention of images showing a connection between Karnak and the Abydos carvings is enough to debunk scientifically reasoned explanations made by professional Egyptologists.

Top image: The Abydos carvings are mysterious carved hieroglyphs which were found on a ceiling beam in the temple of Seti I in Abydos. Source: merlin74 / Adobe Stock

By Cecilia Bogaard


Austin, J. 6 October 2016. “Proof of time travel? Riddle of planes and helicopter found in Egyptian hieroglyphs” in Express. Available at:

Brennan, H. 2011. The Secret History of Ancient Egypt: Electricity, Sonics and the Disappearance of an Advanced Civilisation . Bedford Square Books.

Discovering Egypt. No date. “Karnak Temple dates from around 2055 BC to around 100 AD” in Discovering Egypt . Available at:

Hypnogogial. 23 May 2010. “Helicopter Hieroglyphs Explained” in Rain is Cool . Available at:

Mruzek, J. No date. “The Abydos Helicopter & Secrets of the Golden Section” in Prehistoric Science – Complex Mathematics Encrypted in Art . Available at:


To believe we can 'read' ancient text as verbatim is silly. Were it not for the Rosetta stone where multiple languages copied text, like a modern tourist language guide, we couldn't read hieroglyphics at all. The same is true of the cuniform clay tablets. So, verbatim understanding is a unreal expectation. It is also clear that we have a long way to go to understand human consciousness. For ever humans have 'seen' the distant past and future. There is no explanation for these visions. Particularly when these proffacies later appear to be true. So in Abydos, are they interpretation of distant past, or future? We only know they were unlikely of that period. Modern mainstream science pushes a linear development of civilization. This must be questioned. Evidence abounds this is not true.

I differ from author Cecilia about the items “obviously did not exist". Does she have proof of that?

I also want to point out that all the talk is about just "helicopter” and it is an image of ONE SPECIFIC TYPE of helicopter, a cargo helicopter, designed to lift and transport very heavy objects. Put "Sikorsky Skycrane” in Google images and you will see the uncanny resemblance.

People who believe these signs represent aircraft must avoid the issue of context for their views to be sustained. It's almost as if they don't know that hieroglyphics represent a spoken language that's governed by rules of syntax and grammar, like all languages are. You can't just insert random words into a sentence and have it make sense. If I say, "My girlfriend took me to the Apple Store and helicopter me an iPad for my birthday," that doesn't make sense. You expect a word like "purchased" or "bought" instead of "helicopter." The question that the aircraft believers can never answer is how the sentence reads that those signs occur within. Now if the sentence began with something like, "A strange object appeared in the sky..." that would support the aircraft theory. But if it's more along the lines of random words inserted, like "helicopter me an iPad," then it doesn't make sense. I'd like to see someone who believes these signs represent aircraft to read the full sentence and explain how the signs fit into it for a coherent meaning. They can't, because it doesn't make sense as aircraft within its context, which is a palimpsest of the names of Seti and Rameses. They seem to believe that because they can't read hieroglyphics, that no one else can either. Aircraft makes no sense within the context of the full inscription. It would be just random words inserted into an otherwise coherent meaning.

The BLUE PLANET PROJECT book has some interesting illustrations of different types of aliens. It is also claimed that they were smuggled out by a government scientist working on top secret projects with aliens. Could they be real?

From Timaeus by Plato - the text records a conversation that took place between a Greek named Solon and an Egyptian priest possibly named Sonchis. The Egyptian tells how the movement of bodies in the heavens leads to the destruction of the earth at long intervals and how all knowledge is lost at these times.

The chief city in this district is Sais - the home of King Amasis - the founder of which, as they say, was a goddess whose Egyptian name is Neith, and in Greek, as they assert, Athena. These people profess to be great lovers of Athens and in a measure akin to our people here. And Solon said that when he travelled there he was held in great esteem amongst them; moreover, when he was questioning such of their priests as were most versed in ancient lore about their ancient history, he discovered that neither he himself, nor any other Greek, knew anything at all, one might say, about such matters.

And, on one occasion, when he wished to draw them on to discourse on ancient history, be attempted to tell them the most ancient of our traditions, concerning Phoroneus, who was said to he the first man and Niohe; and he went on to tell the legend about Deucalion and Pyrra after the flood and how they survived it, and to give the genealogy of their descendants; and by recounting the number of years occupied by the events mentioned he tried to calculate the periods of time.

Whereupon one of the priests, a prodigiously old man, said: "Oh Solon. Solon. You Greeks are always children - there is not such a thing as an old Greek." And on hearing this he asked: "What mean you by this saying?"

And the priest replied: "You are young in soul, every one of you. For therein you possess not a single belief that is ancient and derived from old tradition, nor yet one science that is hoary with age. And this is the cause thereof: There have been, and there will be, many and diverse destructions of mankind, of which the greatest are by fire and water, and lesser ones by countless other means. For in truth the story that is told in your country as well as ours, how once upon a time. Phaethon, son of Helios, yoked his father's chariot and, because he was unable to drive it along the course taken by his father burnt up all that was upon the earth, and himself perished by a thunderbolt - that story, as it is told, has the fashion of a legend, but the truth of it lies in the occurrence of a shift of the bodies in the heavens which move round the earth and a destruction of the things on the earth by fierce fire, which recurs at long intervals.

At such times all they that dwell on the mountains, and in high and dry places, suffer destruction more than those who dwell near to rivers or the sea; and in our case the Nile, our saviour in other ways, saves us also at such times from this calamity by rising high. And when, on the other hand, the Gods purge the earth with a flood of waters, all the herdsmen and shepherds that are in the mountains are saved, hut those in the cities of your land are swept into die sea by the streams; whereas in our country neither then nor at any other time does the water pour down over our fields from above, on the contrary it all tends naturally to swell up from below. Hence it is, for these reasons, that what is here preserved is reckoned to be the most ancient; the truth being that in every place where there is no excessive heat or cold to prevent it, there always exists some human stock, now more, now less in number. And if any event has occurred that is noble or great or in any way conspicuous, whether it be in your country or in ours or in some other place of which we know by report, all such events are recorded from of old and preserved here in our temples; whereas your people and the others are but newly equipped, every time, with letters and all such arts as civilised States require;

and when, after the usual interval of years, like a plague, the flood from heaven comes sweeping down afresh upon your people, it leaves none of you but the unlettered and the uncultured, so that you become young as ever, with no knowledge of all that happened in old times in this land or in your own. Certainly the genealogies which you related just now, Solon, concerning the peoples of your country, are little better than children's tales; for, in the first place, you remember but one deluge, though many had occurred previously; and next, you are ignorant of the fact that the noblest and most perfect race amongst men were born in the land where you now dwell, and from them both you yourself are sprung and the whole of your existing city, out of some little seed that chanced to be left over; but this has escaped your notice because for many generations the survivors died with no power to express themselves in writing. For verily at one time, Solon, before the greatest destruction by water, what is now the Athenian state was the bravest in war and supremely well organized also in other respects. It is said that it possessed the most splendid works of art, and the noblest polity of any nation under heaven of which we have heard tell."

Upon hearing this, Solon said that he marvelled, and with the utmost eagerness requested the priest to recount for him in order and exactly all the facts about those citizens of old. The priest then said: "I begrudge you not the story. Solon; nay, I will tell it, both for your own sake and that of your city, and most of all for the sake of the Goddess who has adopted for her own both your land and this of ours, and has nurtured and trained them - yours first by the space of a thousand years, when she had received the seed of you from Ge and Hephaestus, and after that ours. And the duration of our civilisation as set down in our sacred writings is 8,000 years. Of the citizens, then, who lived 9,000 years ago, I will declare to you briefly certain of their laws and the noblest of the deeds they performed; the full account in precise order and detail we shall go through later, at our leisure, taking the actual writings."


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