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A Han-era bì , 16 centimetres (6.3 in) in diameter (CC by SA 3.0).

The Mysterious Dropa Stones – Fact or Fiction?


The Dropa stones are said to be a set of 716 circular stone discs dating back 12,000 years on which tiny hieroglyphic-like markings can be found. Each disc is said to measure up to 1 foot in diameter and carry two grooves, originating from a hole in their centre, in the form of a double spiral.

The discovery of the mysterious discs apparently took place in 1938 in the mountains of Baian Kara-Ula on the border between China and Tibet, where a Chinese professor, Chi Pu Tei, detected regularly aligned rows of graves. The skeletons measured only around four feet in height and had skulls which were large and over developed. 

Inside a nearby cave system, Chi Pu Tei and his team found interesting rock art which depicted figures with round helmets. Engraved in the rock were also the sun, moon, earth and stars, connected by groups of pea-sized dots. Further inside the cave, the team found the collection of stone discs, most of them half buried in the floor of the cave.

Descriptions of the Drops stones are similar to Bi discs, which are a recognized form of circular artifact from ancient China. The Bi discs are round jade discs dating to around 3000 BC, common in the Shaanxi Province.

Tsum Um Nui

For the next two decades, it is believed that the discs were labelled and stored at Beijing University before being given to Tsum Um Nui for study in 1958. Tsum Um Nui allegedly managed to decipher the hieroglyphic characters after four years of study which he claimed told the story of a spacecraft that crash landed in the area of the cave and that the ship contained the Dropa people.  One of the discs apparently said the following: "The Dropa came down from the clouds in their aircraft. Our men, women and children hid in the caves ten times before sunrise. When at last we understood the sign language of the Dropas, we realized that the newcomers had peaceful intentions".

Tsum Um Nui is said to have published his findings 1962 in a professional journal and was subsequently ridiculed and met with disbelief. Shortly afterwards he is said to have gone to Japan in a self-imposed exile where he died not long after he completed the manuscript of his work.

Alleged photographs of the Dropa Stones Source: Curiosmos

Alleged photographs of the Dropa Stones Source: Curiosmos

Russian Involvement

in 1968 the Dropa stones apparently came to the attention of W. Saitsew (also spelt Zaitsev), a Russian scientist who re-published the findings of Tsum Um Nui and conducted tests on the discs that revealed some very peculiar properties. Physically, the granite stones contained high concentrations of cobalt and other metals - a very hard stone indeed that would have made it difficult for the primitive people to carve the lettering, especially with such minute characters. As recorded in the Soviet magazine Sputnik, when testing a disk with an oscillograph, a surprising oscillation rhythm was recorded as if, the scientists said, they had once been electrically charged or had functioned as electrical conductors.


Supposedly, Ernst Wegerer (Wegener) was an Austrian engineer who, in 1974, visited the Banpo Museum in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, where he was able to see two of the Dropa stones. It is said that when he enquired about the discs the manager did not provide him with any information but allowed him to photograph them. He claims that in his photos the hieroglyphs cannot be seen as they have been hidden by the flash from the camera and have also deteriorated.

In 1994, the German scientist Hartwig Hausdorf and colleague Peter Krassa, are said to have visited China and the Banpo museum in Xian in 1994, where they were told that the Director's superiors had ordered the discs destroyed and that officially they do not recognise their existence.  Hausdorf found out that the Chinese government do not have any official record of a tribe called Dropa, neither in the local area of Qinghai or whatsoever in China. 

Have any of the Dropa people survived?  

At the time of the discovery, the cave area was still inhabited by two tribes known as the Hams and the Dropas. Anthropologists have apparently been unable to categorize either tribe into any other known race; they are neither Chinese, Mongol nor Tibetan. They are yellow-skinned with thin bodies and disproportionately large heads, corresponding to the skeletal remains found in the caves in 1938. They have sparse hair on their bodies, have large eyes and their height measures between  3’6” and 4’7” with an average height of 4’2”.


The Dropa stones are immersed in controversy with many claiming that it is nothing but a hoax. Among the arguments against their existence are the following:

It has been claimed that Tsum Um Nui is not a real Chinese name. There is no mention of him in China outside of his connection to the Dropa stones. According to Dropa enthusiast Hartwig Hausdorf, Tsum Um Nui is a former Japanese name, but adapted to the Chinese language.

The vast majority of names and sources cannot be corroborated and existence the Soviet or Chinese scholars cannot be found.

While reported to be a tribe of people with pygmy stature, the real Dropas (otherwise known as the Drokpa) are said to be nomadic herders who inhabit most of the northern Tibetan Plateau and who have regular height.

The only photos of the stone discs do not show any evidence of the hieroglyphs. It seems unlikely that a scholar was able to decipher and understand a completely unknown language in four years. Deciphering ancient writings has usually taken decades for multiple teams of expert linguists and this is even when they can be linked to another known language.

The stone discs were said to have been stored in various museums across China. However, none of these museums have any records or traces of Dropa stone ever being there.

Fact or Fiction?

Are the Dropa stones and the accompanying story simply part of an elaborate hoax or a fanciful story?  Or were hundreds of discs with evidence of extra-terrestrial visitation to Earth really discovered, and the facts surrounding the case covered up?

Top image: A Han-era bì , 16 centimetres (6.3 in) in diameter (CC by SA 3.0).

By Joanna Gillan



I have recently that the Giant skulls which were kept under lock and key in the Humboldt Museum in Winnemucca Nevada were recently removed and destroyed. I viewed these skulls in 2010 and was told by the museum curator that they were clearly not native American and subsequently were not a violation of any treaty stipulations. Pictures of the cabinet and skulls as of yet have not been removed from the internet.

Knowing how the Chinese Government would think, I would say, they've erased all records relating to Dropa Stones.

Chinese Sovereign...anything to protect Chinese reputation.

The Chinese Government would feel embarrassed that they have aliens ancestor tribes living among them. In practical sense, they want to control their people like herds. Censorship.

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I don't know, but I would just bet that these weren't all destroyed. I really don't find it far-fetched anymore, after Greek Fire, the mummified lady whose most delicate veins, and even undigested melon seeds were found in her stomach a few thousand years later - but yet this can't be replicated. The more we know, the more we DON'T know.

malisa wright

Joanna Gillan's picture


Joanna Gillan is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. 

Joanna completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree in Australia and published research in the field of Educational Psychology. She has a rich and varied career, ranging from teaching... Read More

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