THE DROPA STONES
The gray overcast sky hung low in the isolated valley on the cool autumn afternoon. The surrounding mountain peaks had been masked by the heavy clouds for days. A deep rumble shook the ground; sending animals scurrying and startling birds from their roosts in the trees. The thunder-like rumbling from above the clouds grew louder. The valley had never heard thunder like this. The rumbling intensified to a heavy roar. A small group of hunters stalking deer cast their eyes to the sky, expecting the clouds to break open from the deafening thunder with a torrent of rain. But this wasn't thunder at all. A bright flash burst forth from the ceiling of clouds. The hunters realized this was not lightning. They had never seen anything like this before. A glowing orb streaked through the sky above their heads as they watched in dazed disbelief. The orb wobbled and veered as it fell, as if it were trying to fight gravity and keep itself from smashing into the ground. The hunters readied their weapons, not knowing what threat this mystery from the sky might present. Suddenly the thundering roar stopped, and the orb made one final veer and a slight upward turn before slamming into the earth. The hunters were nearly knocked off their feet from the Shockwave. The thing -- whatever it was -- hit the ground just beyond a line of trees, perhaps an hour's walk away, the hunters estimated. A cloud of dirt and leaves rose above the tree line. The hunters debated whether or not they should investigate. Each of them was afraid, but none was willing to admit it. Tightly gripping their weapons, they headed in the direction of the great thing from the clouds. They'd have to hurry; evening was drawing near. The sun had already set behind the mountains by the time they made their way through the sparse growth of trees. Then there it was before them. An indescribable thing, half as high as the trees and reflecting the remaining light of the day like a huge, wet, shiny rock. The hunters couldn't find the words to speak of what this thing might be -- a shape completely alien to their experience. They stared at it, hesitant to move closer.
Then... a hole appeared in the side of the great shining thing... and something was moving inside. The year, by our calendar, was about 10,000 B.C.
Obviously, I have fictionalized the details of this story, but if the interpretation of an exciting discovery made in 1938 is correct, this is a true story. The story of the Dropa.
WHAT THE PROFESSOR FOUND
The story of the Dropa for us begins in the same place, but the year is 1938. The mountains are the Baian-Kara-Ula Mountains on the border that divides China and Tibet. An archeological expedition, led by Chi Pu Tei, has trudged into the barely accessible mountain range, and has happened upon some caves that had obviously been occupied by a primitive people long ago. But what he and his team found in these remote caves is something highly unusual and, if verified, could change everything we know about our distant past.
Not all of the facts of this case are clear and, as you'll understand later, difficult to verify. Some of the details are contradictory, fuzzy, or may have been sensationalized by imaginative writers. But even if part of this story is true, it represents one of the greatest discoveries of our age.
Chi Pu Tei, a professor of archaeology at Beijing University, was leading some of his students on an expedition to survey a series of interlinking caves in the Himalayan Mountains. According to one account, the caves may he been artificially carved, and were more like a complex system of tunnels and underground storerooms. The walls were squared and glazed, as if cut into the mountain with a source of extreme heat. Inside the caves were several ancient but neatly arranged burial sites, and in them the skeletal remains of a strange people. The skeletons, measuring a little more than four feet tall, were frail and spindly with disproportionately large skulls. At first, it was suggested by a member of the team that these might be the remains of an unknown species of mountain gorilla. Professor Chi Pu Tei is reputed to have responded, "Who ever heard of apes burying one another?" Yet, what kind of human was this?
More discoveries made further in the caves all but ruled out the idea that these were apes. On the walls were carved pictograms of the heavens: the sun, the moon, the stars, and the Earth with lines of dots connecting them. Then the team made the most incredible discovery of all. Half-buried in the dirt floor of the cave was an odd stone disk, obviously fashioned by the hand of an intelligent creature. The disk was approximately nine inches in diameter and three-quarters of an inch thick. In the exact center was a perfectly round 3/4" hole, and etched in its face was a fine groove spiraling out from the center to the rim, making the disk look for all the world like some kind of primitive phonograph record.
One plate, dated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old -- older by far than the great pyramids of Egypt -- was fantastic enough, but the wonder was multiplied manyfold. In all, 716 such plates were found. And each held an incredible secret. The groove, upon further inspection, was not a groove at all, but a continuous line of strange carved hieroglyphics -- writing!
The tiny, almost microscopic characters were in a language never encountered before. It wasn't until 1962 that another Chinese scientist was able to decode the message of the stone plates -- a message so incredible and earth-shattering that the Prehistory Department of the Beijing Academy prohibited its translation to be published. Eventually, the message was published, and what it says will astound you.
Dr. Tsum Um Nui felt the smooth face of the disk with the palm of his hand. "What could this disk possibly be?" he wondered. He knew of its recent history; how it was discovered in 1938 by a Chinese archeologist in a cave high in the Himalayans, along with 715 similar disks; how buried nearby were skeletons of a strange tribe of people averaging only a little over four feet high; how it was found that each disk was inscribed with a tiny groove that spiraled around its face, and that the groove turned out to be an unknown hieroglyphic. He also knew how the disks, as remarkable as they were, had been simply labeled along with other finds of the expedition and stored away at Beijing University for 20 years.
During that time, others had attempted to decipher the strange inscriptions, but without success. Perhaps now, in 1962, he could. The professor painstakingly transcribed the characters from the disk to paper. The writing was so small he had to use a magnifying glass to see it clearly. But the stones were old -- perhaps 12,000 years old, it was estimated -- and much of the hieroglyphics were difficult to make out or had been worn away by time and the elements. As he worked, many questions nagged the professor. How did the primitive people fashion these precise stones? How did they manage the almost microscopic writing? Who were they and what was the purpose of these hundreds of stones?
Once the characters were transcribed, Dr. Tsum Um Nui began the arduous task of trying to decode its message. Eventually, he began to make progress. A word emerged. Then another. A phrase became understandable, then an entire sentence. He had broken the code. He discerned that the messages on the stones were written by a people who called themselves the Dropa. But what they were saying to him 12,000 years later made no sense. What the Dropa had written must have been one of their cultural myths, or was part of some prehistoric religious ceremony. Or was it?
When he had completed the translation as much as he could, the professor sat back in his chair in disbelief. The story the Dropa related was nothing short of astounding. How would his colleagues react? How might the world react if this story was true? The professor wrote up a paper on his findings and presented it to the university for publication. Their reaction was swift and emphatic: the paper would not be published. The Academy of Prehistory expressly forbade him to publish or even speak of his findings. The world, the academy decided, should not know about the Dropa and their fateful journey to Earth.
Dr. Tsum Um Nui's findings were eventually published, however. Just two years later, he published the paper entitled, "The Grooved Script Concerinng Spaceships Which, as Recorded on the Discs, Landed on Earth 12,000 Years Ago." By some accounts, the academy relented and gave permission to the professor to publish the paper, and by other accounts he published it despite the official ban. In either case, his translation and his theory were met with ridicule by the archeology establishment. The translation was just too shattering to be taken at face value or as a historical account. It just could not be true. It would change everything we know about our history and humankind's place in the universe.
WHAT THE STONES REVEAL
The Dropa disks tell the story of a space probe from a distant planet that crash-landed in the Baian-Kara-Ula Mountains of the Himalayas. The occupants of the spacecraft -- the Dropa - found refuge in the caves of the mountains. Despite their peaceful intentions, the Dropa were misunderstood by members of the Han tribe who were occupying neighboring caves and who hunted down the aliens and even killed some of them.
A translation of one of the passages says: "The Dropa came down from the clouds in their aircraft. Our men, women, and children hid in the caves ten times before sunrise. When at last they understood the sign language of the Dropa, they realized that the newcomers had peaceful intentions. "The stones go on to say how the Dropa were unable to repair their disabled spacecraft and could not return to their home planet, and so were stranded on Earth.
If that's true, have their descendants survived? Today, the isolated area is inhabited by two tribes of people who, in fact, call themselves the Dropa and the Han. Anthropologists have been unable to categorize either tribe into any other known race; they are neither Chinese nor Tibetan. Both tribes are of pygmy stature, adults measuring between 3-foot-6 and 4-foot-7 with an average height of 4-foot-2, and body weights of 38 to 52 pounds. They are yellow-skinned with thin bodies and disproportionately large heads, corresponding to the skeletal remains found in the caves in 1938. They have sparse hair on their bodies and have large eyes, that are not Asian in aspect, but have pale blue irises.
Supposedly, there also is an ancient Chinese tale that might bear out the Dropa's claims. The tale relates the story of a small, slender, yellow-skinned people who descended to the Earth from the clouds, and who were shunned by everyone because of their ugliness.
In 1968, the Dropa stones came to the attention of W. Saltsew, a Russian scientist who re-published the findings of Tsum Um Nui and conducted tests on the disks that revealed some very peculiar properties. Physically, the granite stones contained high concentrations of cobalt and other metals -- a very hard stone indeed that would have made it difficult for the primitive people to carve the lettering, especially with such minute characters. When testing a disk with an oscillograph, a surprising oscillation rhythm was recorded as if, the scientists said, they had once been electrically charged or had functioned as electrical conductors.
Whatever their true nature, origin, or meaning, the Dropa stones present an intriguing puzzle for archaeologists and anthropologists. Were the Dropa truly visitors from some distant planet, or is their story merely a creation myth imagined by a primitive culture? If the latter is true, it adds one more such "myth" to the large number of stories from ancient cultures that claim their descendants came to Earth from the heavens. And if the former is true, the Dropa stones could represent the first recorded visit of an alien civilization to our planet. For now, the Dropa stones remain unexplained.