There is no doubt that UFO sightings exploded following the end of World War II. After Roswell and the popularity the subject enjoyed throughout society as the 1940s gave way to the 1950s, seemingly everyone was suddenly seeing strange things in the sky. However, unexplained aerial phenomena have been witnessed throughout most of recorded history.
There are records of UFOs in the early 1900s and throughout much of the 18th and 19th centuries. On top of that, there are many recorded events from thousands of years ago which, when viewed from a modern perspective, sound very much like modern UFO sightings. If even a small percentage of these early records are accurate, then it would appear that UFOs, whatever they are, have had an interest in human beings since antiquity. Here are ten such recorded UFO incidents.
10 Torch In The Sky
According to writings by Diodorus Siculus Timoleon, while he was traveling from Corinth to Sicily around 343 BC, several bright lights, or lampas, would guide his journey.
Although it was seen as a sign of help from the heavens, when looked at from a modern perspective, it could be regarded as a UFO sighting. According to the text, “All through the night he was preceded by a torch blazing in the sky up to the moment when the squadron made harbor in Italy.” Interestingly, Timoleon also claimed to have been foretold of “fame and glory” during this guidance, suggesting that some kind of interaction beyond a simple sighting had taken place, possibly telepathic communication—again, something often claimed in modern-day UFO encounters.
Many historians have claimed the sighting to be nothing more than a comet or even a meteor shower. However, there are no such events on record, and furthermore, the lights were visible constantly and in a fixed direction right up until the squadron arrived on the shores of home, not how you would expect a comet or meteor to behave.
9 The Second Punic War Sightings
There were many sightings of strange aerial phenomenon during the Second Punic War between 218 and 201 BC. Rome’s Annales maximi would tell of several of them.
In 218 BC, there were reports of ships which gleamed in the sky coming out of the clouds. Two years later in 216 BC came a similar sighting of “gleaming round shields” traveling through the air. Each of the descriptions given of these two sightings can easily be imagined as the common UFOs described in the modern era.
Many such sightings took place during times of war, which is a point carried over into modern conflicts. Many researchers believe the chaos created in conflict acts as a conduit for increased UFO activity. These sightings are also quite often seen by multiple witnesses. Both of these details are the backdrop to our next entries.
8 Three Moons Sighting
Over the skies of Ariminium, Italy, in around 122 BC, there were several sightings of “three moons” appearing in the sky together. Furthermore, these objects were visible during the daylight hours as well as night.
In Book II of his Natural History, Pliny would be one person who recorded the event, stating, “Three moons have appeared at once in the consulship of Gnaeus Domitius and Gaius Fannius.” Another writing of the three moons appears in Book I of Roman History, which says, “At Ariminium bright light like the day blazed out at night,” and that “three moons became visible” in many parts of the country.
Whether this was a sighting of an intelligently guided craft or not is up for debate. Some mainstream historians have postulated that the sightings were an atmospheric phenomenon. Whether this would be something that writers at the time would have felt the need to record is also a matter of opinion.
7 The Roman Army
The account, which took place in 74 BC, was chronicled by the historian Plutarch. (Note, however, that Plutarch was not alive during 74 BC.) Plutarch stated that despite the perfectly fine and pleasant weather, a sudden boom announced itself over the area, and a flash spread across the sky. He then wrote that “a huge, flame-like body was seen to fall between the two armies.”
Furthermore, Plutarch would provide a solid and detailed description of the object. He stated it to be the shape of a wine jar and the color of molten silver. The object landed in between the two armies, stopping their advancements. Each army, both fascinated and scared of the mysterious craft before them, began to retreat, temporarily halting the conflict.
6 The Hanging Comet
There is actually very little known about this particular incident, but it is worth including here simply because of the bizarre nature of it at a time when very few things should have been in the sky at all. In 12 BC, a strange “comet-like” object simply hovered over Rome for several days. It then “melted” into what was described as flashes that looked similar to torches.
The account, as brief as it is, doesn’t mention any kind of sound or loud noise, so it is unlikely to have been a sudden explosion. Might it be that the craft was a mother ship of some kind, which dispersed smaller, probe-like craft after surveying the area as it hovered?
It is perhaps also worth noting here that any accounts in Roman history arguably should be taken slightly more seriously than others. The reason for this is that Roman historians and recorders of current events had to go through strict procedures to ensure their reports were credible and accurate, and only then could the account be entered into the official record.
5 Chariots In The Clouds
Perhaps one of the best-recorded ancient sightings was that by Josephus in AD 70. According to his account, a mysterious and unnerving spectacle occurred over the skies of Judea. Josephus claimed, “Chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds.” He would state the encounter to be “a miraculous phenomenon, passing belief.”
What is also interesting about the recording of this particular sighting is the awareness of Josephus that he might not be believed. Fortunately, there were other witnesses to the event, as Josephus writes that it would likely have been “deemed a fable were it not for the narratives of eyewitnesses” who had seen it, too.
Furthermore, the events had taken place around the entire country as “armed battalions hurtling through the clouds” were witnessed over every city. Also, “great noise” rained down from above, causing “quakes” on the ground. Roman historian Tacitus mentioned the event in his writings, stating, “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”
As crazy as it sounds, it would appear that what is being described is an aerial conflict.
4 Sighting By The Brother Of Pope Pius I
Although there are doubts due to the fact of him being the only witness, the brother of Pope Pius I is said to have seen a UFO around AD 150 in Via Campana, Italy.
The sighting took place in the middle of the afternoon, which, according to the witness, was a bright, sunny day. Out of nowhere, an object, described by the brother as “a beast,” descended downward. It was in the shape and color of “a piece of pottery” and had a top of multiple colors which shot out “fiery rays.”
The object landed on the ground, causing clouds of dust to appear. When they had a cleared, “a maiden clad in white” was visible near the object.
Nothing more is told, although modern UFO researchers have documented many claims of “angelic aliens” dressed all in white. Might this have been one of them?
3 Angel Hair Incident
Angel Hair is a chalk-like, silvery substance which sometimes rains down to the ground following UFO sightings. There are many accounts of this on record throughout the 20th century. There are also several accounts from ancient times. “Rains of chalk” were reported in Cales in 214 BC. A similar incident occurred in Rome in 98 BC.
Perhaps the best of these ancient angel hair events is recorded by Cassius Dio, who wrote in AD 196 of “a fine rain resembling silver” which fell all over the city of Rome despite there not being a cloud in the sky and the day being bright. Cassius Dio writes that he himself didn’t witness it falling but came upon it on the ground shortly after.
Using three bronze coins, he collected some of this mysterious residue for study. According to his report, the substance remained for three days but had disappeared by the fourth day.
2 Flaming Shield
At a time when a great part of modern-day Europe was known as Francia (or Kingdom of the Franks), Sigiburg in what is now modern-day Dortmund was being attacked by battalions of Saxon soldiers.
As this attack progressed, however, a bizarre object appeared in the skies overhead. It was “the likeness of two large flaming shields reddish in color” and appeared to remain “floating” in the skies above them. So frightened was the advancing Saxon army that they immediately turned around, giving up their siege of Sigiburg and retreating away to safety.
The account is recorded in detail in the Annales Laurissenses maiores—Latin annals which record much of the history of the region from AD 741 AD to 829. Although the author is ultimately unknown, it is widely believed that writers of the time would record events as they happened, which were then compiled at a later date into the finished work.
Another recording of a bizarre aerial sighting from Francia occurred in AD 816 in what is now modern-day Lyon and was written about by Agobard of Lyon in his book De Grandine et Tonitruis.
Agobard would write of his experience with Magonia, a realm in the clouds where “aerial sailors” and their airborne ships reside and sometimes come from. It is an interesting claim.
According to the writings, three men and a woman had fallen to the ground from these aerial ships and were set upon by the townsfolk until Agobard intervened and prevented their certain deaths. It doesn’t state what happened to the four aerial sailors after this, however.
The mythical Magonia and its origins are said to go back to Agobard’s writings. In more modern times, respected UFO researcher Jacques Vallee explored the subject in his book, Passport to Magonia, which looked at alleged UFO accounts in the distant past.