Does such a way of human time travel occur in ancient myths?
I've been wracking my brain but can't think of any examples of ancient mythologies that involve travel backwards in time.
There are myths that involving travelling forward in time:
- In Jewish parables from the Talmud, the scholar Honi ha-M'agel falls asleep and wakes decades later.
These stories may be the basis for the popular modern folkloric tale of Rip Van Winkle, published in 1819 by Washington Irving.
Urashima Tarō is a Japanese folktale about a hero who travels to a magical undersea dragon palace. Although he only spends a few days there, when he returns to the real world, hundreds of years have passed.
The Mahabharata includes the story of Kakudmi/Raivata, who visits Brahma in heaven, and, when he returns to the mundane world, finds that many ages have passed. (Brahma explained that time passes differently on differnt planes.)
- Oisín agrees to marry the fairy woman Niamh Goldenhair, and returns with her to the Land of Youth, where he becomes king. Although he only stays for 3 days, when he returns to Ireland, 300 years have passed.
(More recently, the celebrated contemporary author Gene Wolfe utilized this device in his Wizard/Knight books.)