Source:The Daily Mail (London, England) (Dec 4, 2002): p30. (807 words)
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NOTE: Images not included in original article. The information comes down to disinformation.
Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2002 Solo Syndication Limited
Byline: MICHAEL HANLON
UFOs, too SO IS it an angel? Is it a cherub? No, it's a UFO, coming in fast and low over the fantasy landscapes of Renaissance Italy. That is the incredible theory of one respected archaeologist, trying to explain the more bizarre objects seen in some Old Masters.
Roberto Volterri, of Rome University, points to the fact that several paintings dating to the 15th century depict 'strange objects in the sky'. He has written an extraordinary book in which he claims that aliens have been visiting Earth throughout its history. The proof, he says, is in the great Renaissance paintings.
As these examples show, the artists certainly have a tendency to include peculiar objects in their works, objects that have no rational explanation: lights in the sky, odd flying blobs, even swarms of disc-shaped clouds that look like the extraterrestrial battle fleet in the Hollywood sci-fi film Independence Day.
'I appreciate it may seem somewhat difficult to comprehend, but it is my firm belief that these paintings are testimony of UFOs visiting Earth even before the well-documented cases of the mid 1950s,' Volterri says.
'I believe the painters put these objects in because they knew they were of great importance and wanted to leave a record.' But has Signor Volterri really found evidence that the Europe of half a millennium ago was being regularly visited by alien beings?
One painting which has been the focus of Ufologists for years is The Madonna And St John by Filippo Lippi (1406-1469). The painting, at the Palazzo Veccio in Florence, shows a man and his dog looking at a fuzzy disc in the sky, just over the Virgin's shoulder.
'They are captivated by this object, and why else would they be looking upwards at it if not in amazement at some UFO,' says Volterri.
The Independence Day-style 'alien invasion force' is a feature of The Miracle Of The Snow by Masolino da Panicale, painted in 1429. It shows a fleet of disc-like objects swarming over an idealised Rome.
According to Volterri, it is similar to accounts of cigar-shaped UFOs reported over Belgium in the 1950s.
Another painting, The Glorification Of The Eucharist by Bonaventura Salimbeni (1567-1613), shows God and Jesus sitting alongside a spherical object from which protrudes two spikes and a knob. To Dr Volterri, it is clear this is the artist's attempt to illustrate 'what looks like a satellite such as the Russian Sputnik'.
This is not the first attempt to 'prove' that our ancestors received extraterrestrial visitations. The most famous proponent of ancient UFOs was Erich von Daniken, a Swiss hotelier who, in 1968, made a fortune with his best-seller, The Chariots Of The Gods.
He claimed Earth has been visited by aliens for millennia, and that these visitors left their mark in the gigantic statues of Easter Island and the strange patterns carved into vast swathes of the Peruvian desert.
THE SCIENTIFIC world poured scorn on von Daniken's thesis, so what do the experts make of Volterri's claims? Is he another von Daniken? According to Dick Taylor of the British Interplanetary Society, people have always interpreted strange objects in the skies in different ways, depending on the era in which they lived.
'It is interesting that when people first started talking about UFOs, in the early 20th century, the objects they saw were always described as cigar-shaped - in other words, something like the Zeppelins that were the technology of the day,' he says.
It is possible that the Renaissance painters would have seen strange objects in the sky - shooting stars and fireballs. They would have seen far more than we do today: the night skies of 15th century Italy were free of the light pollution of the modern world.
These objects would have been a source of much bemusement, and some may have been depicted in stylised form by artists. The Bayeaux Tapestry of 1066, for example, shows Halley's Comet.
It is likely, says Taylor, that many people would have interpreted them in religious terms - seeing lights as angels, for example. It is hard to believe that they would have seen them as visitors from other planets.
On closer inspection, some of the claims made by Volterri do seem dubious.
The 'UFOs' in The Miracle Of The Snow appear to be little more than clouds, albeit perfectly circular ones arranged in perfect symmetry. The fact is that many objects in paintings of this period look a little 'wrong' simply because artists had not figured out the rules of perspective.
But Volterri is adamant: 'The evidence of the UFOs in the paintings is clearly visible.' With the bloodthirsty Medicis in control, it is probably a good thing that the aliens never landed and demanded: 'Take me to your leader.' Then there really would have been a war of the worlds.
OTHER (BAD) EXAMPLES NOT MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE, BUT CITED BY INDIVIDUALS AS VOLTERRI:
In other Byzantine paintings similar balls of blue and yellow/red light have been painted next to a crucified Jesus. Did all of these painters see UFOs, or is there some better explanation? Absolutely. You are looking at symbolic depictions of the sun and moon, of the Old and New Testament, or Mary (female; Moon) and Jesus (male; Sun). The reader can find some examples below.
Examples of "UFOs" during Jesus' crucifixion. From a university website: "Sun and Moon: Popular in medieval representations of the crucifixion, sun and moon stress the cosmological or universal importance of redemption. They also point to Old (moon) and New Testament (sun). Sun and moon on the upper left and right corners of our painting may be a pictorial allusion to the rapport between Jesus and Mary: Mary (moon) receives her meaning and importance through Jesus (sun)."
The painting above was done by Carlo Crivelli (1430-1495) and is called "The Annunciation with Saint Emidius" (1486). It hangs in the National Gallery, London. A disk shaped "object" is shining a pencil beam of light down into the top of Mary's head. The circular cloud clearly represents God, who is shining his light on Mary.