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Friday, April 25, 2008

Mystery at Abydos

posted by on April 25 at 10:22 AM

The most perplexing thing I saw in Egypt was in Osiris’s Temple at Abydos—hieroglyphs near the ceiling that depict modern modes of transportation: what looks like a helicopter, a submarine, and an airplane. Our Egyptologist scholar/guide told us these were carved from sandstone several thousand years ago, but that no one knows what they mean, nor have similar symbols been discovered anywhere else on ancient Egyptian artifacts. Some experts dismiss them as the result of new carvings over old carvings—the old hieroglyphs combined with new hieroglyphs laid over the top, plus erosion, inadvertently formed what appears to be symbols of modern technology. I’m a hard-nosed skeptic in all matters supernatural, but this explanation is difficult to swallow.

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Wasn't there a bad James Spader / Kurt Russell sci-fi movie that explained all that?

Posted by bma | April 25, 2008 10:48 AM

It's fake.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 25, 2008 10:48 AM


Posted by Peter F | April 25, 2008 10:49 AM

I'd guess some artist got creative in the 1968 war.....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 25, 2008 10:50 AM

If you look at the helicopter sideways, it looks like a perfectly normal hieroglyph.

Posted by Gitai | April 25, 2008 10:52 AM

It's all L. Ron Hubbard's (and by association, Tom Cruise's) fault.

Posted by Spoogie | April 25, 2008 10:53 AM

I would say there are renditions of other things that happen to look like modern modes of transportations. For example the letter b looks kind of like a toilet and the letter y like a flux capacitor.

Posted by Giffy | April 25, 2008 10:55 AM

Oh, no! The pod people got hold of Amy Kate while she was in Egypt! Wherever she is, please send her back; one space alien on the staff (Mudede) is all we can handle.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 25, 2008 11:00 AM

Steve Sher on KUOW just announced that The Stranger has named a new News Editor.

Posted by elenchos | April 25, 2008 11:01 AM

On the upper left corner. OMG! An ipod!

Posted by crazycatguy | April 25, 2008 11:06 AM

the brain sees what it wants to see. schemas.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 25, 2008 11:09 AM

Who is the new editor? ECB? ECB? ECB? ECB? Oh, it's somebody completely new, isn't it?

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 25, 2008 11:11 AM


I guess it's easier to believe in time travel then.

Posted by ecce homo | April 25, 2008 11:13 AM

@13, Well he did say "Erica C. Barnett news editor at the Stranger"...

About the mystery beam, I bet someone got in a lot of trouble thousands of years ago for installing it upside down...

Posted by PopTart | April 25, 2008 11:14 AM

Oops, meant @12. Though either could apply.

Posted by PopTart | April 25, 2008 11:17 AM

That was all explained in season 3 of Stargate.

Posted by inkweary | April 25, 2008 11:18 AM

I saw an illustration of the characters that would overlay to create these images on a program by the History or Discovery channel. It was convincing. Well, convincing enough to debunk the "it was aliens!" theory. I'd find a link, but I'm lazy.

Posted by steve | April 25, 2008 11:30 AM

You all are so young. Don't impressionable junior-high stoners read Erich von Daniken anymore?

Posted by Fnarf | April 25, 2008 11:31 AM

If the ancient Egyptians had really seen helicopters or warplanes, their representations of them would be more prominent than the carved corner of some lintel. The characters in question could be recent carvings, or could be modern eyes reinterpreting ancient symbols, but they aren't "real".

Posted by butterw | April 25, 2008 11:39 AM

That is obviously not an airplane... Its a speed boat.

Posted by der | April 25, 2008 11:41 AM

@19 - You're assuming all the ancient Egyptians saw these things. Clearly, this is the case of some 20th century archaeologist who accidentally became stranded in ancient Egypt and was in charge of that particular corner of that particular lintel and had his own private joke on his colleagues back in the future.

Posted by heh | April 25, 2008 11:50 AM

@18 - I'm with you Fnarf. This is total Chariots of the Gods. I love me some ancient astronauts.

Posted by kid icarus | April 25, 2008 12:10 PM

i wonder what was drawn on the piece that fell off.... probably something cool from the future. only now, we'll never know.

Posted by infrequent | April 25, 2008 12:17 PM

That piece that broke off? Oh, that was just the directions for making an FTL drive. Nothing important.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 25, 2008 12:47 PM

Probably the same aliens who left that astronaut on that 12th century cathedral, cruising through time just messin' with us.

Posted by DC | April 25, 2008 1:23 PM

On a bit serious note... Amy, you say that you are "hard-nosed skeptic in all matters supernatural," but you claim that the erosion explanation is hard to swallow. Why is that? What is more likely:

1. That ancient Egyptians had helicopters, submarines, etc, but their depictions only appear in this one place (as @19 said)


2. The process of erosion and layering together with the human desire to seek out patters just happens to come up with what looks like a helicopter or submarine.

What we know about ancient Egyptians, together with lack of evidence of any technology advanced enough to construct a working helicopter taken together should, as a skeptic, lead you to conclusion 2.

Posted by Martin | April 25, 2008 1:37 PM

i own a "i want to beleive" poster.

but one could also equate this to a little kid looking at his poo in a toilet and imagining what sorts of animals and religious symbols they create. tea leaves for toddlers.

Posted by highfive | April 25, 2008 1:47 PM

the design of helicopters, submarines, and airplanes didn't come out of "thin air" so to speak. Rather, they were designed using forms borrowed from the natural world. Things like fish, birds, and flies. So, perhaps the ancient egyptian who made the carvings weren't referencing modern contraptions but rather the forms these modern contraptions were design from.

Posted by troll800034 | April 25, 2008 2:22 PM

@1: How DARE you insult Stargate!!!

Posted by Greg | April 25, 2008 2:33 PM

If Ramessess had helicopters, Moses' parting of the Red Sea would have been stupid and non-productive now, wouldn't it?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 25, 2008 3:07 PM

@1: There's no such thing as a bad James Spader/Kurt Russell sci-fi movie.

Posted by Aislinn | April 25, 2008 4:17 PM

"Stargate" sucks.

Posted by Jay | April 25, 2008 7:13 PM

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