Thinking Critically about UFOs: Are They Really Piloted by Extraterrestrials?
Although it seems that it is taboo to speak openly about them, unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are a part of our planetary history. Evidence of their existence is found in some of the earliest human records, including cave paintings in various countries that depict humanoid figures alongside flying craft. One of them, found at Palatki, which is just outside Sedona, Arizona, clearly shows a humanoid figure wearing some type of helmet, and an airplane-like craft in the sky above. Some petroglyphs like this one are more than 20,000 years old.
Petroglyphs at Palatki, near Sedona. A humanoid figure seems to be wearing some type of helmet, while a craft flies through the sky above. (©Ken Jeremiah)
The earliest texts, including those from Sumer, which existed 5,000 years ago, also mention flying craft and their pilots. The Kebra Negast, written in the 13th century, mentions flying craft, as do the ancient Indian texts Mahabharata, written between 540-300 BCE and the Vymaamika Shaastra (Science of Aerodynamics), penned in the fourth century BCE. The Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmosis III reported bright objects in the sky more than 3,500 years ago. Initially he only saw one, but a few days later there were many of them. Confused, he recorded the event anyway and it is still preserved on papyrus.
Many ancient cultures contain pictorial and written records of ‘flying machines’, yet these are usually dismissed as myth and legend. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Alexander the Great likewise reported UFOs in the sky in 329 BCE, which he described as resembling shiny shields. In 1463, a large craft surrounded by light flew over several cities in Europe, and Hermann Schaden illustrated the occurrence for posterity. Similar craft were spotted over Nürnberg, Germany on April 4, 1561. According to witnesses, many craft in the sky seemed to be battling each other, and the event was recorded by Hans Glaser as a woodcut.
Woodcut by Hans Glaser documenting what might have been an aerial battle between UFOs. (Public Domain)
Other famous UFO sightings occurred in Japan. One was in 1180 when a craft resembling an earthenware vessel flew across the sky, and another was in 1235 when the samurai general Toritsune sent his troops to investigate flying lights that had encircled his camp. In one case, a UFO (which was called utsurobune, meaning “hollow ship”) emerged from the water and came to shore at Hiruto no Hama. The event was recorded on various woodblock prints, the most famous being those by Nagahashi Matajiro and Kyokutei Bakin.
Woodblock print of the UFO that emerged from the ocean by Nagahashi Matajiro. (Public Domain)
Another woodblock print of Utsurobune by Kyokutei Bakin. (Public Domain)
From Ancient Sightings to Modern Experiences
There have been other famous UFO sightings, which are clearly a part of the historical record. Sightings stretch from the earliest human records to modern day, and the beginning of the modern UFO phenomenon is generally held to be in 1947. Ken Arnold’s report of nine UFOs flying in formation near Mt. Rainer in Washington made newspaper headlines across the country. After that, the floodgates had opened, and reports proliferated, demonstrating just how widespread this phenomenon is.
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By Ken Jeremiah