_Today, just for fun, I took down an ancient astronaut book from my shelf, and I opened it at random. This is the first passage I saw in William Bramley’s The Gods of Eden (1989):
When we look to see what sort of creature Ahura Mazda was, we discover good evidence that he was but another Custodian [= alien] pretending to be "God." Ahura Mazda is depicted in some places as a bearded human figure who stands in a stylized circular object. From the circular object protrude two stylized wings to indicate that it flies. The round flying object has two jutting struts underneath that resemble legs for landing. In other words, Ahura Mazda was a humanlike "God" who flew in a round flying object with landing pads.
Source: William Bramley, The Gods of Eden (New York: Avon Books, 1990), 114-115.
Let’s think about the logical problems with this. Bramley asks us to believe that depictions of Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian god, like the one below (known as a fahavahar—though some dispute whether Ahura Mazda is the being so indicated, with many modern scholars identifying it instead as “royal glory”), are representations of an alien in a spaceship. But he believes that the two legs—clearly meant to be bird’s legs in the relief below from Persepolis—are “jutting struts.” In other words, we are asked to believe that these legs are literal representations of the landing gear of a UFO while at the same time holding that the wings are merely decorative, symbolizing flight, and the circular craft itself is “stylized.” Needless to say, the alien himself is fully human in shape—down to the beard. Note that the wings are not alone—there is also a bird’s tail present.
So, the bottom line: Bramley wants us to believe that every single aspect of this relief is symbolic and stylized except for the “legs for landing” based on no other evidence than his own feeling that this aspect—and only this aspect—of the carving is a genuine observation of a UFO. The more logical explanation is that the legs agree with the wings and the tail, and all of these are parts of birds. The fahavahar derives from earlier Mesopotamian images of Assur and Shamash that featured a spread-eagle bird and a human figure riding within it.
Even if this were a depiction of a UFO, it isn’t a Zoroastrian one, but a copy of a copy of a copy dating back thousands of years earlier, to Sumer. As with all ancient astronaut theorists, Bramley is blind to cultural influence except where it suits his purposes in arguing for alien influence. The truth, however, is both more earthly and more interesting.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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