“Helicopter apparent” (Abydos temple image)


Pharaohs received luxurious accommodations during their lifetimes and even nicer surroundings once they died. In the case of 13th Century BCE ruler Seti I, a mortuary temple was built for him in Abydos.

This site would be little-known outside of Egyptology and anthropology circles were it not for a creative interpretation of part of the inscription on its walls. Some consider it evidence that ancient Egyptians had conquered flight in the form of helicopters. Here is the image, seen in the top row, second apophenia manifestation on the left:


The image could also be said to resemble a locust but no one is going to recruit fervent supporters with that kind of hypothesis. Few of the believers credit the Egyptians with inventing the helicopter, but feel this was the work of extraterrestrial beings, time travelers, Atlanteans, or Nephilim. The seeming flying machine is an example of an Out Of Place Artifact. These are apparent anachronisms that believers in time travel, creationism, ancient astronauts, Atlantis, or Alternate Chronologies use to bolster their claims. These artifacts usually have a reasonable, scientific explanation, but if they don’t, it still requires implementing the Appeal to Ignorance fallacy to credit the artifact as evidence for one’s belief.

The temple was both a manifestation of and monument to Seti’s ego. He began constructing it to honor himself and to have a place for his followers to worship him and Osiris after he died. Seti never finished, with that job falling to his son, Ramesses II. This slacker young’un did lazy work that including hasty chiseling, plastering over old inscriptions, and making modifications using plaster infill. This altering of the original inscription, along with erosion, made the image what it is today.

Where some see a helicopter, Egyptologists see a filled and re-carved titulary, which is a common site in pharaoh temples. However, there may be a bit of fraud at work as well. The photos that appear on believer sites look to have been digitally altered to make the inscription (or helicopter) look more uniform than it is. Unretouched photos appear to show more clearly  that one name has been carved over another.

A substantial strike against the notion of flying pharaohs is that the machine that would carry them is seen in this temple no place else in ancient Egyptian literature, artwork, or hieroglyphics. Egyptians built the Sphinx and pyramids and made great advances in agriculture, justice systems, and written language. They were proud of all this and to think they would have managed flight without celebrating it their art and historical records is unlikely. Additionally, aircrafts require fuel, specialized parts, and factories and there is no evidence any of those existed in Egypt 4,000 years ago.

Also, Seti I led his country in several wars and this technology would have allowed Egypt to conquer anyone while suffering no casualties. There would have been no reason to not use this capability then, nor any reason to abandon the technology.

The case that the hieroglyphic helicopter is instead a carved-over name is substantial and there are innumerable examples of the same practice at other sites throughout Egypt. In this case, the naming convention of Ramesses II was carved over his father’s and, combined with four millennia of wind, sand, and neglect, created an image somewhat resembling a helicopter.

My position as a skeptic is a strong reason for me to embrace this explanation. But I will concede another incentive. Unless ancestry.com has led me astray, Seti I and Ramesses II were my ancestors, 119 and 118 generations back, respectively. That means I have a case for getting my name carved into the walls.

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