4 UFO Sightings From Ancient Times | Unveiled

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Kurt Norris
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In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at 4 of the strangest, most bizarre and most unexplained instances of UFO sightings in ancient history. Featuring UFOs from Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, these are the earliest examples of humans looking to the sky in fear and wonder!

4 UFO Sightings from Ancient Times

While the iconic terms of “UFO” and “Unidentified Flying Object” date back only as far as the early 1950s, some level of human interaction with some form of inexplicable airborne vehicle seemingly dates back not just centuries, but thousands of years. There’s no doubt that modern humans have an interest, perhaps obsession, with finding UFOs… but these things also captivated ancient civilizations, too. And, while many of the oldest recorded sightings have since been attributed to various meteorological or astronomical phenomena, there are still some events that have made their way into the annals of history and continue to elude explanation even today.

So, this is Unveiled, and today we're exploring four extraordinary UFO sightings from ancient times.

We’ll start with what’s often referred to as one of the first recorded mentions of a potential UFO sighting - although its validity is firmly up for debate. The details are allegedly found in the Tulli Papyrus, a document that it’s claimed dates back to the Egyptian Empire. According to a translation of the Papyrus by one Boris de Rachewiltz, an Italian-Russian Egyptologist, an unusual event unfolded during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, which was between 1,479 and 1,425 BCE, almost 3,500 years ago.

It’s said that a "circle of fire" descended from the sky and that its “mouth had a foul odour” although it didn’t have a head. This bizarre object was described as about fifteen feet across, and after several days was purportedly joined by more just like it. An apparent fleet of unexplained entities, appearing as though out of nowhere and stretching across the sky… until one evening, the objects rose in unison and moved south over the horizon, never to be seen again. The Pharaoh supposedly then ordered these strange events to be recorded immediately, and the story eventually made its way onto the Tulli Papyrus, where it apparently waited for more than three millennia until it was finally unearthed.

Importantly, the authenticity of the papyrus itself remains very questionable, and so the UFO claim it reveals is met by many with scepticism, too. The translation is actually of a secondary record of the papyrus itself, and the original source has long been lost. But, nevertheless, the story has triggered ongoing discussion within the UFO community. While, in some ways, the description of the initial object in particular does perhaps appear reminiscent of a passing comet, it’s also thought that the Ancient Egyptians were very knowledgeable when it comes to astronomy - and so, perhaps, they wouldn’t have confused a comet for something else. What’s more, that incongruous, extraordinary detail that the object’s mouth had a foul odour (despite it not having a head) is speculated by some to be the result of an ancient culture attempting to describe emission fumes - something they, of course, wouldn’t recognise, but an advanced alien race may well have produced out of their extraterrestrial, alien spaceships.

While the Tulli Papyrus has yet to be officially validated, however, today’s second ancient UFO sighting comes from a far more reputable source. Titus Livius, more commonly known as Livy, is considered one of the leading historians of ancient times. And, while his histories do involve some mythological influences, his greatest work, "The History of Rome", is considered one of the primary sources for understanding ancient Roman culture. In his work, Livy covers the great civilization's story, from its legendary founding around 753 BCE… all the way up to the year 9 BCE. And, while it’s also true that Livy's work features some anomalies, nothing is quite so peculiar as his recounting of the events of the Second Punic War. It was a crucial, seventeen-year conflict, but what it’s perhaps best remembered for is Livy’s various descriptions of phantom ships that appeared during it, in the skies above the battle.

The first instance allegedly occurred in the first year of the war, in 218 BCE, when Livy wrote that phantom ships had been seen gleaming in the sky over Rome. Then he continued with an event the following year, describing that round shields were again seen in the sky - this time over the ancient city of Arpi. Livy finally records yet another UFO sighting, decades after the war in 173 BCE, as a great fleet in the sky close to another ancient city, Lanuvium.

But what exactly were these objects? Many have recognized the seeming similarities between Livy's shield-shaped somethings and our modern, archetypal depictions of a flying saucer. And, while Livy himself lived some 150 years after the events that he describes, his position as a trusted historian means that his records are generally regarded as accurate. There’s certainly scepticism when it comes to the phantom ships, but so much of the rest of Livy’s work is thought to be reliable… based, as it was, upon records from the Annales maximi, a thoroughly fact-checked and verified archive, set up during the Roman Republic.

For today’s third ancient sighting, though, we switch to the work of the noted Greek-turned-Roman historian, Plutarch, and to another, separate event, this time shortly before a planned battle was set to take place. According to Plutarch, in 74 BCE, the army of the Roman Empire was marching on the army of the King of Pontus, Mithridates VI, in the region of Phrygia, which is in modern-day Turkey. However, the two armies never met. Just as tensions were about to peak, a large body of flame is said to have descended from the sky between the two sides. Taking it as an omen from the gods, the two armies are then said to have separated, saving them from a bloody conflict.

According to Plutarch, writing about an event which was allegedly witnessed by thousands more people, the fiery object was shaped like a jug of wine and was of a molten silver colour. Again, there are numerous contemporary claims that this incident may have simply been caused by a falling meteorite, but not everyone agrees. The NASA scientist Richard Stothers, for example, reasoned why it may not have been a meteorite, as part of a 2007 study into UFOs from classical antiquity. For Stothers, that molten silver colour (while not wholly out of place) doesn’t quite match with what scientists would expect to see during a meteorite event. But, also, we should again more seriously take into account the astronomical knowledge of those present during the sighting. As with the Egyptians and the Tulli Papyrus, it’s thought the Ancient Romans had an advanced understanding of astronomical phenomena… shaped by a long history of recording meteorite impacts. If this was a meteorite, then, they perhaps would have known and understood it. But, according to Plutarch, they didn’t… so the jug-shaped fireball may have been something else.

Perhaps the foremost reason to doubt Plutarch’s account surrounds the historian’s personal reputation. While known for his general reliability, he’s also noted for often emphasizing the moral lessons of history, and perhaps at the expense of accuracy. One theory, then, is that Plutarch’s recordings of this unusual event were intentionally allegorical, to relay a warning message about war, and not designed to be taken literally. But still, the fact that this phenomenon was reportedly witnessed by thousands of soldiers means that it remains one of the most intriguing ancient UFO sightings out there.

Finally, to another celebrated historian, setting the scene for yet another war in history, and describing another unexplained event in the sky. Like Livy and Plutarch, Titus Flavius Josephus is another prominent historian of the ancient world. Working in the first century AD, he primarily covered Jewish history, and the Jewish-Roman wars. But, while he was again praised for his accuracy, he seemingly couldn’t make sense of everything… and famously wrote of an apparently inexplicable, airborne event within his vast work, “The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem".

According to Josephus’ account, near the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War, in 66 A.D., groups of apparent soldiers and what appeared to be charging chariots were witnessed running in the clouds above the setting sun. There was allegedly, then, an entire (but incomprehensible) scene playing out in front of many baffled onlookers, watching the skies. An apocalyptic vision, perhaps. Referring to his own role in recording the event, Josephus himself foretold that what he had written may well go on to be understood as only myth or fable, but he insisted that this was no made-up story. Initially, then, the phenomenon was deemed by some to be a sign from God… but, in more recent times, there’s suggestion that Josephus' work may actually be a recording of an early sighting of an alien UFO. The soldiers were perhaps the aliens, the chariots were perhaps the spaceships. As with all the potential UFO events mentioned today, however, there is of course plenty of scepticism, and no-one can claim to know for sure.

But, what’s your verdict? All four of these events are isolated incidents, occurring across various major civilizations, at different locations and at different points in history. Were they natural space or weather phenomena? Allegorical fabrications? Or could the commonalities and peculiarities of these events really be the result of age-old, extraterrestrial visitations? Whether alien or mundane, those are four UFO sightings from ancient times.