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Home > The Tulli Manuscript Mystery - Is it proof of UFOs - Unexplained Mysteries

The Tulli Manuscript Mystery - Is it proof of UFOs - Unexplained Mysteries

See more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulli_Papyrus

Tulli Manuscript

The Tulli Papyrus is an oft-cited document of questionable origins that some have interpreted as evidence of ancient flying saucers. During a visit to Cairo in 1933, Alberto Tulli, a director of the Egyptian section of the Vatican museum, supposedly found an interesting papyrus in an antique shop.

For those unfamiliar with the Tulli papyrus, this is reputedly an ancient text dating back to the reign of Thutmose III that disappeared after the death of its owner, Alberto Tulli, the former director of the Egyptian section of the Vatican museum. A second story which may be closer to the truth recounts how Tulli and his brother, Monsignor Augusto Tulli, discovered the papyrus in a Cairo antique shop in 1934.

Because of its high price tag, Professor Tulli could not afford to purchase the papyrus, but the owner of the shop allowed him to copy the text which was then transcribed from hieratic to hieroglyphics with the help of the Director of the Cairo Museum, Abbot E. Drioton.

Since then it has established itself as the Holy Grail of Ufology. The reason for the huge amount of interest in the text is that the Tulli papyrus is often cited as evidence of UFOs appearing in Egypt around 3,000 years ago.

A translation of the text was made by Boris de Rachewiltz, who is probably best known as the author of ‘An Introduction to Egyptian Art’ and ‘Maxims of the Ancient Egyptians’ - a collaborative effort with Guy Davenport. Rachewiltz’s translation has been widely circulated for years and greeted with equal amounts of cynicism and excitement. What can be said without a shadow of a doubt is that he had the knowledge to undertake the translation, being not only a respected translator of Egyptian texts, but an authority on Greek texts and African Art as well.

Boris de Rachewiltz’s credentials appear to be far more impressive than some sceptics would have people believe. In fact, he authored several specialised publications that are still used by universities today. Without the actual Tulli papyrus itself being rediscovered, it is impossible to verify the accuracy of the translation or the claims made regarding the strange aerial phenomena it records. But there is enough circumstantial evidence to keep the papyrus in the public eye, as at least one person, author R. Cedric Leonard, claims to have uncovered a copy of the original text.

When Egyptologists work on translating ancient texts, it is common practice to copy the document by hand before they commence their work to avoid unnecessary contact with the often fragile papyri. There would be a good chance that any translator working on the original would have taken a copy of the papyrus as standard practice before undertaking the work. Of course, as we’ve already mentioned, it is quite possible that Tulli himself only ever had a copy. It is one such copy that Leonard claims to have found in a U.S. library.

According to many Egyptologists, judging by the style of the language and grammar it uses, the papyrus is either genuine, or has been forged by someone very knowledgeable in hieratic script and vocabulary. The Tulli text also exhibits numerous parallels to other documents of the Thutmoses III era. It would require a considerable amount of skill on the part of the hoaxer to replicate the language and writing style with such precision.

Whether it is a clever hoax or a genuine text, no one can say for sure. Accusatory fingers have inevitably been pointed at Rachewiltz but why would he risk his academic reputation in such a way? If the working copy R.C. Leonard found is what it purports to be, then it certainly lends a huge amount of credence to the authenticity of the Tulli legend and de Racewiltz’s translation.


One of the reasons the Tulli papyrus is so controversial and what makes it so remarkable is that it records a strange aerial phenomena that occurred around 1000BC. Ufologists often cite this as documented proof of a UFO sighting and the translations below certainly make interesting reading.

"In the year 22, in the third month of winter, in the sixth hour of the day, the scribes of the House of Life noticed a circle of fire that was coming from the sky [...] From the mouth it emitted a foul breath. It had no head. Its body was one rod long and one rod wide.¹ It had no voice. And from that the hearts of the scribes became confused and they threw themselves down on their bellies [...] then they reported the thing to the Pharaoh [...] His Majesty ordered [...] has been examined [...] and he was meditating on what had happened, that it was recorded in the scrolls of the House of the Life. Now after some days had passed, these things became more and more numerous in the skies. Their splendour exceeded that of the sun and extended to the limits of the four angles of the sky [...] High and wide in the sky was the position from which these fire circles came and went. The army of the Pharaoh looked on with him in their midst. It was after supper. Then these fire circles ascended higher into the sky and they headed toward the south. Fish and birds then fell from the sky. A marvel never before known since the foundation of their land [...] And Pharaoh caused incense to be brought to make peace with Earth² [...] and what happened was ordered to be written in the Annals of the House of Life so that it be remembered for all time forward."

Tulli papyrus

Or was it an unusual meteorological occurrence?

Even if authentic, it is possible that the text is describing a very rare natural phenomenon. One alternative theory has suggested that the papyrus could be recording a plasma discharge created by electrical instability in the Earth’s atmosphere. This hypothesis is given some credence by the fact that the symbols that mean “circle of fire”, can also be translated as ‘circular object producing heat’.

The symbol used for fire was often used for heat or even energy, and the symbol that is used for circle is usually translated as circular object.

According to Egyptologists, the rest of the translation is perfect and could only be translated in the way it has been.

Secret History

Did something exceptional happen in the skies over Egypt at that time? There are no supporting texts in the public domain to help us reach an absolute conclusion as to what the Tulli papyrus relates to. What the text does make clear is the fact that whatever it was, it was quite out of the ordinary and left those that witnessed it struck with both awe and fear.

If this enigmatic text is genuine, it certainly leaves many unanswered questions There are of course many thousands of texts that have never been released into the public domain, and instead lie in the vaults of various institutions around the world. If efforts were made, the contents of these texts would be available to all and as a result, the mystery of the Tulli papyrus might finally be answered once and for all.

Without the original papyrus, we can never say with absolute certainty what truth lies in the Tulli papyrus legend, but if the copy unearthed by Leonard is genuine then its certainly time to stop and think.

Rachewiltz's Translation

In the year 22 third month of winter, sixth hour of the day (...2...) the scribas of the House of Life found it was a circle of fire that was coming in the sky (Though) it had no head, the breadth of its mouth (had) a foul odour. Its body 1 rod long (about 150 feet) and 1 rod large, It had no voice... They hearts become confused through it, then they laid themselves on the bellies (...3...) They went to the King ..?) to report it. His Majesty ordered (...4...) has been examined (...5...) as to all which is written in the papyrus-rolls of the House Of Life His Majesty was meditating upon what happened. Now, after some days had passed over these things, Lo! they were more numerous than anything. They were shining in the sky more than the sun to the limits of the four supports of heaven. (...6...) Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The army of the king looked on and His Majesty was in the midst of it. It was after supper. Thereupon, they (i.e. the fire circles) went up higher directed to South. Fishes and volatiles fell down from the sky. (It was) a marvel never occurred since the foundation of this Land! Caused His Majesty to be brought incense to pacify the hearth (...9... to write?) what happened in the book of the House of Life (...10... to be remembered?) for the Eternity

R. Cedric Leonard's Translation "In the year 22, of the third month of winter, sixth hour of the day [...] among the scribes of the House of Life it was found that a strange Fiery Disk was coming in the sky. It had no head. The breath of its mouth emitted a foul odor. Its body was one rod in length and one rod in width. It had no voice. It came toward His Majesty's house. Their heart became confused through it, and they fell upon their bellies. They [went] to the king, to report it. His Majesty [ordered that] the scrolls [located] in the House of Life be consulted. His Majesty meditated on all these events which were now going on. After several days had passed, they became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shined in the sky more than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of heaven [...] Powerful was the position of the Fiery Disks. The army of the King looked on, with His Majesty in their midst. It was after the evening meal when the Disks ascended even higher in the sky to the south. Fish and other volatiles rained down from the sky: a marvel never before known since the foundation of the country. And His Majesty caused incense to be brought to appease the heart of Amun-Re, the god of the Two Lands. And it was [ordered] that the event [be recorded for] His Majesty in the Annals of the House of Life [to be remembered] for ever."''

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