UFOs And Alien Encounters In The Ancient World

Documented sightings spanning thousands of years, across cultures, match reported UFO encounters today. The scholarly article “Unidentified Flying Objects In Classical Antiquity” (download here: .2007_Stothers_2) tries to decode the patterns:

The UFO phenomenon, whatever it may be due to, has not changed much over two millennia. Throughout recorded history, reports of what we today might call unidentified flying objects have been made and preserved. Embedded in the mass of relatively explicable ancient reports, is a small set of unexplained (or at least not wholly explained) reports from presumably credible witnesses.

At Rome in the winter of 218 BC “a spectacle of ships (navium) gleamed in the sky”. In 217 BC “at Arpi round shields (parmas) were seen in the sky”. In 212 BC “at Reate a huge stone (saxum) was seen flying about” In 173 BC “at Lanuvium a spectacle of a great fleet was said to have been seen in the sky” In 154 BC “at Compsa weapons (arma) appeared flying in the sky”. In 100 BC, probably at Rome, “a round shield (clipeus), burning and emitting sparks, ran across the sky from west to east, at sunset.” [In 93 BC] Romans on a journey saw a gold-colored ball roll down from the sky to the earth; after growing larger, it was seen to rise upward again from the earth toward the rising sun and to block the sun itself by its size.

A Close Encounter of the Third Kind involves a UFO seen in association with an occupant, usually described as human or humanoid. According to Livy, in 214 BC “at Hadria an altar was seen in the sky; around it were forms of men dressed in shining white.” Four years earlier, “in the district of Amiternum, in many places, forms of men dressed in shining white were seen at a distance; they did not approach any- one.” The last encounter is again from the early Christian hagiographical literature and took place near the Via Campana between Rome and Capua ca. AD 150. On a sunny day, a “beast” like a piece of pottery (ceramos) about 100 feet in size, multicolored on top and shooting out fiery rays, landed in a dust cloud, accompanied by a “maiden” clad in white.

Although UFOs vary in morphology and behavior, consistent patterns have emerged. At close range, UFOs appear as disks or other extended objects, including vertical cylinders enveloped in “clouds” and associated with smaller disks. Depending on the viewing angles, their intrinsic shapes might be similar or even identical: a disk seen face-on looks circular, although edge-on it looks elliptical or oblong. Colors in the daytime are usually described as silvery or gray, and in the night as resembling red or multicolored lights.

Any viable theory must reckon with the extraordinary persistence and consistency of the phenomena discussed here over many centuries. Whether one prefers to think in terms of universal recurrent visions from the collective unconscious, misperceptions of ordinary objects, unusual atmospheric effects, unknown physical phenomena or extraterrestrial visitations, what we today would call UFOs possess an intrinsic interest that has transcended the passage of time and the increase of human knowledge.

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30 Responses to UFOs And Alien Encounters In The Ancient World

  1. kowalityjesus October 8, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    UFOlogy is a phenomenon perhaps worth knowing, but I think it is irrelevant to most any worldly concern of you or I.

  2. kowalityjesus October 8, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    UFOlogy is a phenomenon perhaps worth knowing, but I think it is irrelevant to most any worldly concern of you or I.

    • coiled embrace October 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      idiot

    • coiled embrace October 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      idiot

      • Matt Staggs October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        Be cool, man.

      • Matt Staggs October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        Be cool, man.

      • kowalityjesus October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

        perhaps anecdotes or examples would help elaborate your position

      • kowalityjesus October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

        perhaps anecdotes or examples would help elaborate your position

    • Jeffery October 9, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      It’s not irrelevant one bit. If proper scientific scrutiny was applied to the UFO phenomena we might get a few advancements out of it that could, at the very least, attenuate our global pollution problems as well as many other issues us humans have.  

    • Jeffery October 9, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      It’s not irrelevant one bit. If proper scientific scrutiny was applied to the UFO phenomena we might get a few advancements out of it that could, at the very least, attenuate our global pollution problems as well as many other issues us humans have.  

      • kowalityjesus October 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

        I agree, and you actually rock.  UFOlogy and close encounters are completely fascinating in their own right, and the possible technologies that we can attain from alien cultures or already have attained from it would make it very worth our while.

        I have just been jaded by the idea because I’ve spent a lot of time concerned with it and my complaints are:

        1 Ridiculous amounts of disinformation; so difficult to trust sources because the subject is SO prone to agents, nuts and other unaccountables.  #1 manipulated conspiracy theory in my opinion.

        2 Always this distant glimmer of ‘disclosure’ which is a carrot on a stick.

        3 Discussion of the subject destroys your credibility with many others instantaneously.  Unfortunate but true.

        4 It is out of my hands; on the psycho-spiritual side of things, it begins to blend in with religion, which is a mistake.  On the social-pragmatic side of things it begins to blend with politics, which is almost always silly speculation.  Who could ever encompass with their human brains the motivations of beings whose intelligence is to us, as we are to an insect or maybe rodent?

        I prefer to not spend any more concern in the matter.  Just stating my opinion.

      • kowalityjesus October 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

        I agree, and you actually rock.  UFOlogy and close encounters are completely fascinating in their own right, and the possible technologies that we can attain from alien cultures or already have attained from it would make it very worth our while.

        I have just been jaded by the idea because I’ve spent a lot of time concerned with it and my complaints are:

        1 Ridiculous amounts of disinformation; so difficult to trust sources because the subject is SO prone to agents, nuts and other unaccountables.  #1 manipulated conspiracy theory in my opinion.

        2 Always this distant glimmer of ‘disclosure’ which is a carrot on a stick.

        3 Discussion of the subject destroys your credibility with many others instantaneously.  Unfortunate but true.

        4 It is out of my hands; on the psycho-spiritual side of things, it begins to blend in with religion, which is a mistake.  On the social-pragmatic side of things it begins to blend with politics, which is almost always silly speculation.  Who could ever encompass with their human brains the motivations of beings whose intelligence is to us, as we are to an insect or maybe rodent?

        I prefer to not spend any more concern in the matter.  Just stating my opinion.

  3. Will October 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Believing in UFO’s is like having faith in god. Belief in absents of evidence.

    • Matt Staggs October 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      Personally, I do not pretend to know the absolute truth regarding either. Certainty is a comfort I would gladly claim were I able to do so with any intellectual honesty.

    • Fabian_Ramos October 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      I’ve seen ‘em. Friends and family seen them. Many around the world and accounts in history discusses them.

      “Evidence”?

    • Fabian_Ramos October 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      I’ve seen ‘em. Friends and family seen them. Many around the world and accounts in history discusses them.

      “Evidence”?

  4. Aram Jahn October 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I’m getting a 404 on the scholarly link.

    • Matt Staggs October 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

      Fixed, thanks.

    • Matt Staggs October 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

      Fixed, thanks.

  5. brock October 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I remember reading a book by Jacques Vallee about 20 years ago when I was living in New Mexico and had a passing fascination with UFOs. He brought up all kinds of historical accounts of UFOs. They all seemed to correspond to the technology of the time–flying chariots, hot air balloons, space craft, etc. I think I even remember him drawing a correlation between tales of fairy folk and that sort of thing with our modern version of greys. The takeaway I got from the book was that when we encounter something that is so completely alien our brains just fill in the blanks with something out of our imagination.

    I don’t remember if it was the author’s conclusion or just mine, but I liked his take on things because it dispelled the notion that any of this necessarily had anything to do with life from other planets and that these phenomenon have always been here with us and the nature of reality is just weirder than any of us really want to admit to.

  6. brock October 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I remember reading a book by Jacques Vallee about 20 years ago when I was living in New Mexico and had a passing fascination with UFOs. He brought up all kinds of historical accounts of UFOs. They all seemed to correspond to the technology of the time–flying chariots, hot air balloons, space craft, etc. I think I even remember him drawing a correlation between tales of fairy folk and that sort of thing with our modern version of greys. The takeaway I got from the book was that when we encounter something that is so completely alien our brains just fill in the blanks with something out of our imagination.

    I don’t remember if it was the author’s conclusion or just mine, but I liked his take on things because it dispelled the notion that any of this necessarily had anything to do with life from other planets and that these phenomenon have always been here with us and the nature of reality is just weirder than any of us really want to admit to.

    • alizardx October 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      What I liked about his books is that he saw UFO phenomena as just another place where good scientific investigation can be done and that he discussed groups who are using UFO belief systems as ways to manipulate public opinion,

    • alizardx October 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      What I liked about his books is that he saw UFO phenomena as just another place where good scientific investigation can be done and that he discussed groups who are using UFO belief systems as ways to manipulate public opinion,

  7. Lewruli October 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    link to article – or at least the journal’s page where it appears - http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/30038660?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101295689647

  8. Lewruli October 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    link to article – or at least the journal’s page where it appears - http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/30038660?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101295689647

  9. sceptic October 9, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    All who think to believe in alien visitors should read The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. Or listen, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGkfs9WU98s

  10. sceptic October 9, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    All who think to believe in alien visitors should read The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. Or listen, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGkfs9WU98s

    • Matt Staggs October 9, 2012 at 8:35 am #

      Is it reasonable to assume that those who hold beliefs different from your own do so from a position of ignorance? Skepticism, sadly, has become an ideology rather than a position, and a simple admission of ignorance – “I don’t know” – the most damning heresy of all of them. I don’t claim to know with any certainty whether there are aliens or if they’ve visited the earth during any time past or present. Even Dr. Sagan seemed to consider it a possibility, albeit a slight one. I understand your concern about “the siren song of unreason” (I’m reading from the back cover of my own copy of The Demon Haunted World), but can one have considered the evidence – or lack thereof – can still hold a different conclusion or no conclusion without being considered an apostate, numbskull or enemy of reason, or must all opinions be stamped and approved by The Amazing Randi or Michael Shermer first?

    • Matt Staggs October 9, 2012 at 8:35 am #

      Is it reasonable to assume that those who hold beliefs different from your own do so from a position of ignorance? Skepticism, sadly, has become an ideology rather than a position, and a simple admission of ignorance – “I don’t know” – the most damning heresy of all of them. I don’t claim to know with any certainty whether there are aliens or if they’ve visited the earth during any time past or present. Even Dr. Sagan seemed to consider it a possibility, albeit a slight one. I understand your concern about “the siren song of unreason” (I’m reading from the back cover of my own copy of The Demon Haunted World), but can one have considered the evidence – or lack thereof – can still hold a different conclusion or no conclusion without being considered an apostate, numbskull or enemy of reason, or must all opinions be stamped and approved by The Amazing Randi or Michael Shermer first?

    • kowalityjesus October 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      Actually one of the most interesting and metaphorically viable texts I have read on the matter is “Journey to Ixtlan” by Carlos Castaneda.  ”The flyers” are evils spirits who feed off of our spiritual aura.  Sounds very hokey but it is probably a better account of the idea behind evil aliens/demons than anything else I’ve seen.  Sagan, God rest his soul, is knowledgable but naive imo.

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