The Saqqara Bird is a bird-shaped artifact made of sycamore wood, discovered during the 1898 excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb in Saqqara, Egypt. It has been dated to approximately 200 BCE, and is now housed in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. The Saqqara Bird has a wingspan of 180 mm (7.1 in) and weighs 39.12 g (1.380 oz). Its function is not understood because of a lack of period documentation.
Egyptian archaeologist and parapsychologist Khalil Messiha, proposed that the ancient Egyptians developed the first aircraft. Messiha wrote that the artifact “represents a diminutive of an original monoplane still present in Saqqara.” He also claimed that the Saqqara Bird could function as a glider if it had a horizontal tailplane, which he “suppose[d] was lost,” and noted that the Egyptians often placed miniaturized representations of their technology in their tombs.
Messiha contended that the Saqqara Bird differs significantly from other statues and models of birds housed in the Cairo museum. According to Messiha, the Saqqara Bird has a vertical tailplane which is unlike the generally horizontal shape of a real bird’s tail. Richard P. Hallion described this fin as “shaped as if the bird had twisted its tail feathers.” It is also legless and has wings set at an angle Messiha sees as similar to that of modern aircraft, which he considered an attempt to create aerodynamic lift.
Aerodynamics expert Simon Sanderson tested a replica model in a wind tunnel without a tailplane and found that it produced “four times the glider’s own weight in lift.” In Liverpool University, Sanderson then subjected it with the data from wind tunnel and added a stabilizing tailplane to a flight simulator meant to replicate “the same trials as a modern fighter jet.” In virtual air streams and conditions in Egypt, the Saqqara Bird actually flew quite well. “Over 2,000 years after the ancient Egyptians carved this mysterious bird, modern technology has proved beyond doubt that it could have flown.”
- ↑ Messiha, Khalil; et al. (1991). "Aeronautics: African Experimental Aeronautics: A 2000-Year Old Model Glider". In Ivan van Sertima. Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern. Journal of African Civilizations. vol. 5, no. 1-2. New Brunswick: Transaction Books. pp. 92–99. ISBN 0-87855-941-8.
- ↑ Doug Aamoth (June 9, 2010). "Cryptids: The Saqqara Bird"