The 10 Most Not-So-Puzzling Ancient Artifacts: Ancient Model Aircraft, Plus a Rant!

This appears to be more of a category than an individual artifact, it seems to cover a couple of different artifacts that share the common thread of vaguely looking like flying objects. Or at lest that’s what you’re supposed to think. Two major items stand out in this category, The Saqqara Bird and the Tolima Artifacts, though it can also be said that flying carpets, winged chariots, and dragons also belong here (more on this later).

Let’s start with the Saqqara Bird.

The Bird in Question

The Saqqara Bird is an actual artifact kept in an actual museum, it was uncovered by actual archaeologists and studied by same. The Bird’s existence is not in question and not disputed. It’s the Bird’s function that people want to debate, and by people I mean the Fringe.

The Bird was discovered in 1898 by Dr. Khalil Messiha during an  excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb in Saqqara, Egypt (Fitzpatrick-Matthews 2010). It is made out of sycamore wood and appears to have a falcon shaped head, complete with Horace like eyes. It’s exact function is unknown but it is mostly accepted that the Bird was part of a mast-head used on sacred boats like those used during the Opt Festival, of which we have documentation (Fitzpatrick-Matthews 2010, Orcutt 2001].

Please note bird images on the masts of the ships.

Now, some will have you think that the Bird is a scaled down replica of a glider. There are several issues with this, mainly that, if you faithfully replicate the Bird to a larger scale, it will not fly. I know most of us have seen the Ancient Aliens episode where they make a model, and then fly it, but they also make several modifications to it, none of which have any evidence of existing. To be a final nail in the glider coffin, others have tried to replicate the models and have found them to be lacking. Larry Orcutt points out in his article “Model Airplane?” talking about the Bird:

“The requirements for a Free Flight model glider to be automatically stable in flight are that it should:

  1.  Balance somewhere between 25% and 60% of the wing chord back from the leading edge. The wing chord is the average width of the wing, measured from front to back. A glance at the bird shows that the body is made from a single piece of wood whose proportions are such that the balance point is at or behind the trailing edge of the wing. The bird’s head region has clearly never had a weight attached to it or buried within it. Such a weight would be needed to bring the balance point forward into the range given above.
  2. Have a horizontal tail surface of around 20 – 25% of the wing area. Despite some claims to the contrary, no such tail surface currently exists and there are no traces of a tail plane’s attachment point on the bird’s fin or rear body. The fin is the vertical tail surface that forms the rear of the bird’s body.
  3.  Be shaped to provide spiral stability. The presence of a large fin at the rear of the body must be balanced by a dihedralled wing if the bird is to glide without tipping over sideways into an terminal spiral dive. A dihedralled wing is one with the tips raised above the center of the wing like virtually all passenger planes and model aircraft. The bird has the opposite wing arrangement. Its wing tips are drooped to give anhedral, which would only serve to increase the bird’s spiral instability.

 As can be easily seen, the bird meets none of these requirements for flight, so it is quite unlikely that it ever flew or that accurate replicas could fly. [Orcutt 2001]”

He also shows several examples of the mast mounted birds that look very much like the Bird, and has a link though to a report on the replication and attempted flight of the Bird.

Next, let’s look at the Tolima Artifacts.

One of several small animal totems.

Again, these are another set of real artifacts recovered in real digs and displayed in real museums. It’s the interpretation of said artifacts that is disputed. Not by anyone who knows anything about them, or the Tolima people, but by Ancient Alien theorists and such. These little gold charms are so low-key you’ll be hard pressed to find anything academic on them. However, you can go see them in several museums around America, including the Smithsonian in DC and The Field Museum in Chicago. To the Ancient Alien people though, these small gold artifacts are hard evidence of ancient Jet fighters.

I really can’t even begin to tear this one apart because it’s just so ridiculous to me. Where the Fringe sees an airplane, I see fish and moths. Maybe it’s because I understand that ancient peoples took liberties and stylized their interpretations of their world, especially when it came to ritual items. Maybe it’s because these things don’t look a damn thing like airplanes or jets. IDK.

Da Plane Boss, Da Plane!

But honestly, let’s look at the larger issue with this whole ancient airplane thing, Where are the remains of these planes? Where are the parts, the broken bits, the actual plane themselves? Where is all the stuff associated with flying planes? Where are the airports, the air towers, the luggage claim racks…

If man was making them, where are the production sites? If Aliens flew them down, why is there no physical evidence? What did these things run on? Jet fuel is an expensive, complicated, explosive mix. How did our ancestors make it and not kill themselves?

This brings us to the more imaginative part of this entry, the whole idea that flying carpets, dragons and winged chariots were really ancient man’s way of interpreting ancient flying machines. In order for these ideas to work we have to make several assumptions that no one should be comfortable making.

First, we have to assumes that the mythologies of ALL ancient peoples are accurate and true.

Second, we have to assume that whenever the ancients said “God or Gods” they were really  talking about aliens, they just didn’t know it.

Third, we have to assume that our ancestors were too ignorant of the natural world to understand a non-natural object, and instead of faithfully representing the actual object in story and art, they took artistic liberties to create winged chariots, flying carpets, and yes, Dragons.

Fourth, we have to ignore that our first assumption and our fourth assumption are in opposition.

Fifth, we have to never ask what happened to all the physical evidence advanced machinery would have left behind, or where these “Alien Gods” went to, or why they came or left in the first place.

In order for the Saqqara Bird and the Tolima Artifacts to be real, all these questions and assumptions need to be addressed. Evidence needs to be produced, and reality itself has to shift. I’ve yet to hear anything resembling a reasonable answer to the logical objections to the idea of ancient airplanes. If one could be provided, it would be the first.

Reinterpreting the Known World.

Another thing sticks out here that is of  some interest, and that is the reinterpreting of actual artifacts. It’s something I’ve noticed the Ancient Alien theorists do often. They take known discoveries and try to make them fit the Alien narrative. They reject documented and researched interpretations by experts and substitute their own, that are often based on nothing more than observing a photograph. I’m often left wondering why? What makes a non-professional individual reject the accepted opinion of a professional and supplement a much less informed opinion instead? Why do they think these two opinions are equal in validity?

This has nothing to do with intelligence, I want that to be clear. It has everything to do with experience and education. All three of those things are separate and are not actually dependent on each other, so none of this “they’re stupid” talk. Irrational? Perhaps. Uniformed? definitely. But not stupid.

Whatever the answer to those questions might be, we in the “Mainstream” will continue to be plagued by weird reinterpreting by the “Fringe”. Which leads to the other problem I have with this kind of thing, misinformation.

Regardless if the misinformation is being distributed knowingly or unknowingly, the biggest problem is that they can put that bad information out there faster than most people can fact-check. Which creates confusion in a normal, rational, individual. What can be done about that?

Critical articles like these, critical arguments, critical thinking, and access to open, honest facts, are the only way to combat this barrage of misinformation. People need access to factual information so that it can be used to counter the bad information. People also need to be taught how to think both skeptically and critically, something a lot of people think they are doing, but in reality are not. I feel that these goals are being met to some degree. Open Access is a huge thing among scientists today, and I think it will only continue to become the norm. That thought gives me hope.

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If you want more on this topic, got to: 10 Most Not So Puzzling Ancient Artifacts.



Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keith

2010 “Egyptian ‘aeroplane’ models?.” Bad Archaeology. Accessed July 9th 2012.

Orcutt, Larry

2001 “Modle Airplane?” Catchpenny’s Mystries of Nacent Egypt Explained. Accessed July 9th 2012.

“The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts.” Accessed April 2 2012.

27 thoughts on “The 10 Most Not-So-Puzzling Ancient Artifacts: Ancient Model Aircraft, Plus a Rant!

Add yours

  1. Ever notice that the ancient alien theory guys are authors, and magazine editors? It”s about MONEY. They always have the title of the book they wrote in the subtitle with their name. Even the few P.H.D’s on the show have to be in it for the cash. But hey what do I know? I’m just a lowly mechanic who watched Ancient Aliens a few times and shouted “balderdash” and “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, and other (albeit more colorful) things.


    1. I have found that a lot of the professional that get quoted are often misquoted or lied to about the intentions of the interview. I think the number that are looking to make a buck are few, but I’m sure they exist.


      1. I don’t know if anyone gets paid to be on the various shows. The authors certainly get the benefit of having their book listed in the subtitle with their name. I was referring to the professionals who are clearly pro aa theory. I should have made the distinction between them and the pros who use actual science in their respective areas. I believe the latter are edited or as you stated lied to or misquoted to fit the aa agenda.


    2. I haven’t actually noticed this at all. However, have you noticed how academics owe their own income to sticking close to accepted “wisdom” and how stepping too far away from the status quo which pays everybody, means they lose it all?


  2. What amazes me is what possible reason they think aliens hundreds or thousands of years ago could have for leaving models of 20th century aircraft lying around? Surely everyone would agree that if aliens had interstellar travel they most certainly did not come by airplane. Any airplane that ever existed in their world would be very ancient history, while in our world it was in the distant future. Moreover, aircraft only looked like that for a short period. The prop-driven planes of the first half of the 20th century bore no resemblance to these models and the stealth bomber which flew over the Bears game the other day didn’t either. So if the aliens left models which would only make sense to people from about 1950 to 2000, what was the point?

    It’s this pareildolia (seeing meaning in random images) which infests the whole show. There’s no attempt to explain why aliens would do bizarre and pointless things like building stone temples or carving symbols on obelisks (can you imagine the extraterrestrial briefing meeting? “This is a 10,000 light-year trip to a planet on the outskirts of the galaxy with no power tools, so don’t forget to pack the rock-carving equipment.”).

    What’s sad is that so many people seem to believe this isn’t nonsense.


    1. Excellent comment, well said ! 🙂

      If we’d try to reconstruct the supposed activities of the supposed alien visitors, as described in these wild claims, I think we’d quickly come to the logical conclusion that these aliens were completely nuts. 😀 Takes the sheen off of the whole “someone from outer space had to visit in ancient times” idea very, very quickly. All the better !

      The more I keep hearing about “ancient astronaut” claims over the years, the more I’m getting the impression it’s little more than a cottage industry earning big bucks. By scamming gullible people, unwilling or unprepared to think critically, rationally and do a bit of actual study.


  3. Why is everyone ignoring the most obvious explanation: it’s a fish?!… You can see flying fish in (and above) all the oceans and in many seas, including the Mediterranean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that really does work for me and Occams razor doesn’t leave me with any other options at this point, thank you. This does in fact bear a very striking resemblance to a flying fish, and whilst their tails are usually horizontal they do twist them in flight and I’ve seen them in the vertical position. Very possible and way more convincing than a bird.


  4. I would like to just point out that the original archaeologists of the 1890-1930s had just as wild of ideas that modern methods and new finds are proving to have been pure fantasy. On top of that the modern scholars education is based on these original discoveries. Now I do not agree with all the ancient aliens enthusiast ideas. Some times they are as bad as a religious zealot. However I respect the fact that there are people willing to look outside the box at the possibilities. ..

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Only just found you (via an investigation of some utter nonsense on a creationist website). Fantastic work my friend.


  6. Unfortunately, this guy has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. Talk about critical thinking, he is pulling everything out of thin air.
    That he is not a pilot, that he has no knowledge of the design features of aircraft is rather abundantly clear to those who do.
    These models lack any main features of fish. Any depiction of a fish by an artist in history would include one of three things no matter how stylized the effort might be. It is universal.
    A Dorsal fin
    A Caudal fin Fin (Tail fin) extending below the center line of fish body

    On several of the 20 or so model aircraft figurines, there are leading edge curlicues on the wings.
    Those are not found on any modern aircraft in that form, but Dave Herbert has produced a rather primitive ‘TEST’ model to see what those objects might be.
    Minute 6:36 in video

    They are leading edge ‘Slots/slats’ found on all modern Jet Airliners on the leading edge of their wings.
    (function trumps form)

    To edit and paraphrase:
    “There are some members of the skeptics’ groups who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to examination. They appear not to be interested in weighing alternatives, investigating strange claims, but only in promoting their own particular belief structure and cohesion”


      1. And to respond to you. Show me any such depiction of fish without a dorsal fin, Caudal fin, or scales’ That is the material point!
        It is up to you to provide the hole in that statement. I cannot prove a negative’
        If these are the the stylized fancies of the Tolima, then you must imagine their intent was to depict a fish without any of those said features, eliminating them all, while at the same time incorporating most (Proven) features found on modern aircraft in their place.
        And lacking those, you have effectively eliminated any hope of providing proof the artist intended it to be a fish.
        Any point by point breakdown of this small model shows it to possess all the normal features of aircraft in detail, minus landing gear which modern craft retract in flight, and advanced design features in a few that are still in development currently.
        All things found here (earth) were the work of men’s hands. I am not an advocate of the AAA theory, quite the contrary. They provided no source from which they could be copied
        Nor do I believe jungle peoples understood the concept of fixed wing, powered flight, nor would they have had the machinery, or foundries capable of producing the source artifacts that the models were copied from.
        In my opinion, that leaves only one possibility for their existence, and it is not that they are model fish.


  7. And the fact, not opinion, is that the object does not have the features of a fish. Please provide an example of any one of these objects that has a Dorsal fin, a Caudal Fin, or Scales. Address that and YOU will have moved beyond an opinion into fact.
    These objects do have designed features of modern aircraft as have been demonstrated in video.
    Those are facts. Experience and education leads to that. A decade flying the Bush in Alaska was my start. Yours?
    Lack of information leads to opinions.

    Jungle Peoples? Really?
    The sculptors were people, and they were living in the jungle. You trying to build something on that?


      1. Pareidolia.

        I look at a particular wash basin with two taps and I see a face with two eyes, a nose, and a hint of a mouth.

        There’s your “irrefutable proof” of “well, it might look like a plane if you squint enough”. :-)))


  8. You talk about the other people getting monetary gains especially if there are a journalist . You’re a total blowhard and you’re a journalist you’re calling out these people motives and you’ve got the same ones and I call bullshit on your theory take a look at the models they flew take a look at there perception of turbulence and lift in the designs . But what do you expect from a blowhard journalist trying to put other journalist down


    1. They aren’t a journalist, they’re an actual scientist working in professional archaeology for years.

      The fact that commenters here are resorting to “witty” retorts like “blowhard” and other vulgarisms and name-calling only proves they have absolutely no rational arguments. Unlike the article.

      I am also not sure what to make of your comment, given that it was posted on April Fool’s Day…


  9. Peter, Your analogy is absurd in the extreme. Open those eyes wide son, you have failed to come up anywhere near the mark. You and any other skeptic must first address the features of the object in question, and that in a rational manner. The fact that it functions in the manner one would expect of an aircraft designed with features of modern airliners and military machines. The fact that it does not possess any feature that is always incorporated by artists down thru the ages to denote the artist’s intent that it should be recognized as a fish, notably a Dorsal fin, A caudal fin, or any indication of scales.


  10. My problem with these gold flier artifacts is that I can find no info on the exact date when they were found. If they were found after 1945 they could be a clever hoax by archaeologists to create a controversy and get their names recognized in higher circles for more government grant money or simply as a mischievous hoax. Think Piltdown Man


    1. Please do think of Piltdown, which was proven, by archaeologists, to be a fraud, and is used today as a teaching example on how nationalism can create the perfect environment for pseudoachaeology. It’s one of the most well known cases of this kind of pseudoarchaeoloy and also is very similar to the cultural appropriaition required to take known artifacts clearly associated with a culture and decided that since they look like jet planes to you, who are not part of said culture, that they must be jet planes, and the entirety of the archaeological world is covering them up because, reasons.


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