The UFO Battle over Nuremburg
Despite my attempt to rest my wrist following a bout of carpal tunnel, somehow I managed to write more over the last two days than usual. Well, today I’m resting, so I’m going to direct readers to an excellent blog post by Frank Johnson over at Ancient Aliens Debunked describing the alleged “Nuremburg UFO Battle” of 1561, a staple of ancient astronaut claims, having appeared everywhere from the Weekly World News to Ancient Aliens to Graham Hancock’s Supernatural (where he suggested it was a mass drug hallucination). A bit of background will help place Johnson’s critique in context.
The “UFO Battle” is known only from a woodcut by Hans Glaser that appeared in a broadsheet in 1561, with some accompanying black letter text in archaic German that I am not able to read. The woodcut first became known to the general public when Carl Jung reprinted it in Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies (1958). So far as I know, this was the first appearance of the broadsheet image in conjunction with UFOs, which is somewhat ironic given that Jung only brought it up to explain that UFOs are a myth borne of the unconscious, not actual metal spaceships buzzing the skies only to unintentionally create a modern myth of Renaissance-era astronauts! Jung accidentally gave ammunition to the ancient astronaut writers, who in turn mined his work for “evidence.” (Jeffrey J. Kripal discusses this briefly in Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred ).
The woodcut was made after the fact, drawn from witness descriptions but not original observation by the artist. Until now, information about this obscure woodcut could hardly be found outside the mutual-copying society of ancient astronaut writers, all repeating von Däniken’s initial claim.
Johnson has reviewed an English translation of the German text and compared the woodcut to known astronomical phenomena to determine that it represents a secondhand depiction of a particularly gaudy sundog, a phenomenon formed when sunlight is scattered through the sky thanks to the prism effects of atmospheric ice. The characteristic arcs seen in the woodcut are indicative of sundogs, which also can generate colored orbs and shadowy, angular lines, as Johnson demonstrates.
The clincher is his collection of other sixteenth century broadsheets depicting known astronomical phenomena in rather odd ways, such as a rain of fire meant to represent an aurora. Thus, in context the 1561 image fits into these artistic depictions of astronomical phenomena.
Mystery (apparently) solved.
(Read Johnson's blog post here.)
12/12/2012 11:24:12 am
Solved? For someone who's making a career out of debunking speculative theories, that's pretty confident. I'm not saying you or Johnson are wrong, it's a reasonable and sensible theory. But what say you about the smoke arising from the patch of trees on the right side of the rendering.
8/20/2016 08:45:07 am
That's not smoke, that's a couple of ancestors of Marge Simpson
4/24/2020 08:19:02 am
It reveals extraterrestrials activity on earth 👽👽🏃🚄💨💨💨
12/12/2012 11:40:39 am
nevermind, i read the blog, maybe i should have done so before commenting... :) interesting and clearly the most believable theory surrounding the event.
12/13/2012 12:02:26 pm
One note about the "crash", theres a mention of smoke in the english translation, but the woodcut mentions "dampff" which is actually steam. interesting post tho.
12/20/2014 09:15:18 pm
Theis explanation mean that all the citizen of Nuremberg 1561 was idiots. Or we are idiots. There was meny more situation like this , depicted by history, please see the Alexander Madcedon battle , case, mabe he was an idiot too ... ??
3/10/2016 03:29:40 am
3/10/2016 03:45:15 am
What is this trying to do exactly? Debunk There is a phenomena that might possibly be mistaken with this by people so therefore there is no chance it's what they thought & must have got it wrong? That isn't even remotely scientific is it? You know we know of things that engage each other regularly in aerial "battles" therefore they must have all seen birds as I don't want to entertain the idea that there is anything possible outside the reach of my beliefs & knowledge. There, birds. Mystery solved. Coming up with another theory (usually involving those that actually saw it being wrong) is not proof, it doesn't debunk anything. It is just a theory you like more. Truthfully, I don't think this event was anything but I don't believe they got scared by a frost either. Glad there was no rainbow, the mass suicides would have been terrible! Lol
11/1/2016 02:06:57 pm
German text is not archaic, it's pretty close to modern german. You can find the text here
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