How far back in time does the evidence for crop circles go? Here’s tantalizing evidence for a 2,000-year-old reference I uncovered in The Dead Sea Scrolls.
Precious few references have been found in early historical records that point to possible crop circles. Probably the most renowned is still the “Mowing Devil” case of 1678, in which a farmer’s field was said to have been visited by a devilish entity that trampled the crops down in a circle. The event was captured for posterity on a wood engraving, but many cerealogical sceptics have dismissed its relevance since its rise to prominence around fifteen years ago.
Professor Robert Plot published a book entitled A Natural History of Staffordshire in 1686, in which he made passing reference to rings, circles and other shapes found in grassy fields. Much debate has ensued over Plot’s observations; detailed as his notes were, some researchers considered his evidence flimsy at best. They felt it more likely that Plot was describing “fairy rings” caused by common fungi.
Which brings me to a book entitled The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered by Robert Eisenman & Michael Wise (Penguin 1993 ISBN 0 14 02.3250 8). This is a dry, academic work, detailing the manuscripts found at Qumran, in the Middle East, during the 1940s and 1950s. While a few were immediately published for all to see, many more were kept secret for over 35 years by researchers jealously guarding their exclusive hold over these documents. But these two open-minded and determined researchers published over 50 documents, including photographs, translations and interpretations of the manuscripts.
According to Eisenman and Wise, many of the manuscripts display strong links with Kabbalistic thought, the esoteric side of the Judaic belief system. The Qumran community was a sect apart: close-knit, secretive and militaristic. It is postulated by some that the biblical Jesus spent some time at Qumran, being taught the role of the expected Messiah to come — the One who would lead their oppressed nation to victory over the Roman occupiers. The Qumran community was preparing for war and future triumph. We can only guess why it was that these manuscripts were secreted in large clay pots in the lonely caves high above the Dead Sea, where they lay undisturbed for almost 2,000 years, but it is assumed that an imminent attack was feared and the priests sought to preserve their heritage.
Much of the information contained in the manuscripts is allegorical in nature, disguising the military and spiritual aspirations of the Qumran community under a cloak of esotericism. Few parchments are complete; there are many gaps in the scripts which Eisenman and Wise have attempted to bridge using their extensive knowledge of ancient languages. But for all their diligent and painstaking work, many passages remain tantalisingly incomplete.
One of the documented fragments is known as The Birth of Noah (4Q534-536). The Qumran community regarded Noah very highly. According to Eisenman and Wise, Noah is represented as a “Wisdom figure, or one who understands the Secret Mysteries”; “Noah is … one who is involved in Heavenly ‘ascents’ or ‘journeying’ or at least one who ‘knows’ the Mysteries of ‘the Highest Angels’.”
Further on, in the actual translation of the fragments of the parchment, is the following (dots indicate missing portions; square brackets indicate places where Eisenman and Wise have interpreted and filled in small gaps) “… will be … [H]oly Ones will remem[ber ...] … lig[hts] will be revealed to him … they [will] teach him everything that … human [Wi]sdom, and every wise ma[n] … in the lands (?), and he shall be great..”
And, later: “… of the hand, two … it lef[t] a mark from … barley [and] lentils on … and tiny marks on his thigh … [After tw]o years he will be able to discern one thing from another … In his youth he will be … all of them … [like a ma]n who does not know anyth[ing, until] the time when he shall have come to know the Three Books. [Th]en he will become wise and will be disc[rete ...] a vision will come to him while upon [his] knees (in prayer). And with his father and his forefa[th]ers … life and old age; he will acquire counsel and prudence, [and] he will know the Secrets of mankind. His Understanding will spread to all peoples, and he will know the Secrets of all living things.” (p.p. 33-37.)
When I first came across these passages, I was immediately struck by the possibility that the Noah depicted in these parchments had been subjected to a UFO Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind (CE-4). The authors describe this Noah as “one who is involved in Heavenly ‘ascents’ or ‘journeying’”; the manuscripts themselves say of Noah that “lights will be revealed to him”, and mention “…tiny marks on his thigh.” In many classic CE-4 scenarios, abductees have often found little marks on their limbs or torso.
It is also notable that many CE-4 “victims” find that, after the initial shock of the first experience, their lives are enriched spiritually as more CE-4s happen to them.
Of course, it is easy to read what one wants to read into ancient texts which have been partially destroyed by age, but the phrase “tiny marks on his thigh” is complete, and seems unusually out of place in a manuscript of this nature — unless the marks had great significance. Otherwise, why mention them at all?
The only similar reference to “thigh” in the Bible that I can find is in Genesis 24, in which Abraham, well advanced in years, asks his servant to put his hand under his (Abraham’s) thigh in order to swear a certain oath to “the Lord”. Since first reading this text, I’ve always considered this to be a peculiar procedure — but if Abraham had also been subjected to a CE-4 abduction (interpreted as a meeting with “the angels”) and had been left a mark on his thigh that was similar to Noah’s apparent thigh-mark, perhaps the presence of such a mark became invested with religious importance and linked to “the Lord” and/or his angels.
The next few passages of the Noah document seem to be highly significant in both cerealogical and ufological terms. Maybe (with a goodly degree of interpretative licence!) it originally read something like: “… it left a mark from (ON HIGH IN THE) barley and lentils on (THE GROUND), and tiny marks on his thigh …” Significantly, the two sets of markings are connected, by use of the conjunctive “and”. They were both visible effects of the same cause — and it is reasonable to suppose that the same causal mechanism was also, in some way, involved in Noah’s subsequent enlightenment.
The biblical Noah played a fundamental part in the early days of human development. There is no mention in Genesis about Noah ascending to the stars or journeying with the angels, but he was visited by “God”, who gave Noah instructions for the construction of an ark that apparently enabled mankind and many animal species to survive the flood. It’s hard nowadays to take this story literally. But when viewed allegorically, this representation of Noah could be interpreted as depicting a man endowed with a special knowledge. Even if the “ark” was a real vessel, what was the true identity of the “God” that revealed the construction details to him? How could Noah realistically have physically “saved” the many thousands of animals purportedly carried on the ark? They were held in captivity, remember, for something like nine months — seven males and females of every “clean” animal and bird, two of every “unclean” species.
Of course, it would have been much easier if the ark was a DNA repository.
This is not the first time that biblical tales have been interpreted as being disguised UFO visitations. Zechariah Sitchin and Erich von Daniken, amongst others, have been both praised and lambasted in equal measure for daring to promote such ideas.
The proposition that the Dead Sea Scrolls might contain events related both to ufology and cerealogy, hidden for almost two millennia, is likely to be just as contentious. In cerealogical terms, it provides no more evidence than the Mowing Devil case, or Plot’s fairy rings — but equally it is just as vague, and therefore, in my view, just as significant.
This post is adapted from an article I originally wrote in 1994. It’s the only thing I’ve ever written that’s earned me money: an abridged version of the article was used in a crop circle calendar published in the USA some years after it appeared in the Centre for Crop Circle Study’s journal The Circular. I received the princely sum of $50. A copy of the original article (with some annoying typos introduced that were not in the copy from which it was lifted) can still be found on the web at the CropCircleConnector site; I’ve also added it to my Notable Comments Elsewhere section in my Writing Archive.