Does such a way of human time travel occur in ancient myths?

  • I'm not aware of any travelling back in time in ancient myths, but a fun innovation in modern mythology is the idea that UFOs are not aliens, but people from the future.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 18:47
  • To add to what @Gibet said, it is the general consensus on SE that a good question shouldn't be deleted, especially if it already has a answer deemed good by the community. If OP really does not want this or another question under his name, it is possible to ask SE staff to disassociate it from his account: meta.stackexchange.com/a/96746/261831
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 7:02
  • Some possible examples here - judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8496/…
    – Harel13
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


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.)

In Celtic faerie lore, this same time distortion occurs in regard to Tír na nÓg, which probably derives from Oisín, son of Finn Mac Cool, the first bard of Ireland:

  • 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.)

  • Hi. If I'm not wrong, I asked the question, but I'm from another account right now. Anyway, I found 2 legends (potentially of ancient origin or with ancient roots but I might be wrong), one from the 1600s and the other from Mohave folklore in these links: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_to_the_West#Sequels , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohave_traditional_narratives . I hope I'm not wrong and that these stories are not later-date additions to the literature I talk about. You can check if they're surely not later additions, if you want, thank you.
    – Dominic
    Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 23:14

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