Offbeat

Our Fascination with UFOs: They’ve Been Around a Lot Longer Than You Think

Although shrouded in mystery, the concept of UFOs has been with us down through history, as far back at the golden age of Egypt. Although usually associated with the period following World War II, sightings of unidentified flying objects have been featured in both ancient and medieval art and literature.

However long they have been talked about, seen and disputed, UFOs are guaranteed to fascinate those who dare to envision life on other galaxies and make others very uncomfortable.

The scribes of the Per Ankh (House of Life) where all of the records of ancient Egypt were maintained, in the year 22 of the third month of winter, described a circle of fire burning bright in the sky. It had no head but from its mouth came a foul odor. The body was one rod long and one rod wide.

In the fourth century AD, the Roman author, Julius Obsequens, compiled a book called Prodigoium liber, which describes many odd phenomena, including ships seen over the sky in Italy in 216 BC in Apula, east of Rome. In 90 BC, in an area known as Spoletium, which is 65 miles north of Rome, a globe of golden fire fell to the earth and then rose into the sky where it obscured the sun with its brilliance.

A Florentine painter in the late 1400’s executed a work: Madonna and Child With The Infant Saint John. Attributed mostly to Sebastiano Mainardi (or Jacopo del Sellaio) the oil painting is on permanent display at the Sala d’Ercole in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. Many die-hard UFO enthusiasts are more excited by this painting than any other. It depicts a UFO in the upper right background behind the Madonna. In the distance, a character shields his eyes while beholding this apparition in the sky.

In the words of Danile Bedini, who wrote in Notiziario UFO:

“We clearly see the presence of an airborne object, leaden in color and inclined to port, sporting a ‘dome’ or ‘turret,’ apparently identifiable as an oval-shaped moving flying device.”

Most people associate the presence of UFOs with the period following World War II; namely to Kenneth Arnold’s sightings of “nine flying saucers” over Mount Ranier, Washington on June 24, 1947. Arnold stated that the lead object resembled a crescent while the other eight were flat and disc-shaped. In December of that year, Project Sign, an air force project designed to study UFO reports was established at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.

UFO sightings after World II particularly, appear to be worldwide in scope and descriptions vary little from country to country. Usually, they are reported as being disc or cigar-shaped but sometimes they are reported as boomerangs or triangles. Many sightings turn out to be lights in the sky and others have plausible explanations such as meteors, passing aircraft etc. But in some cases, there are no earthly explanations and that is the issue at hand. Even the Air Force discovered that hoaxes comprised only about 1% of all the reports it received and many of those were of alleged UFO photos, which are very easy to fake.

The two most prominent theories surrounding and explaining UFOs until the mid 1960s were one, that they were absolute nonsense; explainable as hoaxes or delusions, and two, that they were extra terrestrial aircraft. Each camp had its chief, so to speak; in the former it was Donald H. Menzel, a Harvard University astronomer, and in the latter Donald E. Keyhoe, an aviation journalist. Both wrote books on the subject arguing their positions and claiming veracity through connections in science, government and the military.

Has there been a national cover-up of UFOs? Many believe the Roswell incident of the late 1940s marked the true beginning of a national cover-up. The UFO that allegedly crashed in the middle of a desert with its alien occupants very dead and onboard is known today as Area 51 and it remains a hot bed of contention between believers and non-believers.

One thing is certain. Many heretofore classified reports retrieved through the Freedom of information Act certainly whisper of the possibility that UFOs are an unexplained phenomenon.

Leave a Comment

  1. techiedavid says:

    Sorry to burst the bubble but the " Madonna and Child With The Infant Saint John" showing a UFO is photoshopped. Check the museum site where the article claims it at, the reference painting does not have any UFO in it. If you want a real UFO in the Bible, just read it. Ezekiel wheel, in chapter 1, no need to make up stuff.

  2. M Dee Dubroff says: (Author)

    Hi Dave,
    Sorry to boast your bubble, but I did not make anything up. I saw the original painting in Florence when i lived in Italy and there definitely is something flying in the background sky. Granted that whatever it is, is not clear, but the article you read is incorrect.