Skip to comments.Meteor Clue To End Of Middle East Civilisations
Posted on 01/03/2002 10:50:09 PM PST by blam
Meteor clue to end of Middle East civilisations
By Robert Matthews, Science Correspondent
SCIENTISTS have found the first evidence that a devastating meteor impact in the Middle East might have triggered the mysterious collapse of civilisations more than 4,000 years ago.
satellite images of southern Iraq have revealed a two-mile-wide impact crater caused by a meteor
Studies of satellite images of southern Iraq have revealed a two-mile-wide circular depression which scientists say bears all the hallmarks of an impact crater. If confirmed, it would point to the Middle East being struck by a meteor with the violence equivalent to hundreds of nuclear bombs.
Today's crater lies on what would have been shallow sea 4,000 years ago, and any impact would have caused devastating fires and flooding.
The catastrophic effect of these could explain the mystery of why so many early cultures went into sudden decline around 2300 BC.
They include the demise of the Akkad culture of central Iraq, with its mysterious semi-mythological emperor Sargon; the end of the fifth dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the building of the Great Pyramids and the sudden disappearance of hundreds of early settlements in the Holy Land.
Until now, archaeologists have put forward a host of separate explanations for these events, from local wars to environmental changes. Recently, some astronomers have suggested that meteor impacts could explain such historical mysteries.
The crater's faint outline was found by Dr Sharad Master, a geologist at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, on satellite images of the Al 'Amarah region, about 10 miles north-west of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates and home of the Marsh Arabs.
"It was a purely accidental discovery," Dr Master told The Telegraph last week. "I was reading a magazine article about the canal-building projects of Saddam Hussein, and there was a photograph showing lots of formations - one of which was very, very circular."
Detailed analysis of other satellite images taken since the mid-1980s showed that for many years the crater contained a small lake.
The draining of the region, as part of Saddam's campaign against the Marsh Arabs, has since caused the lake to recede, revealing a ring-like ridge inside the larger bowl-like depression - a classic feature of meteor impact craters.
The crater also appears to be, in geological terms, very recent. Dr Master said: "The sediments in this region are very young, so whatever caused the crater-like structure, it must have happened within the past 6,000 years."
Reporting his finding in the latest issue of the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science, Dr Master suggests that a recent meteor impact is the most plausible explanation for the structure.
A survey of the crater itself could reveal tell-tale melted rock. "If we could find fragments of impact glass, we could date them using radioactive dating techniques," he said.
A date of around 2300 BC for the impact may also cast new light on the legend of Gilgamesh, dating from the same period. The legend talks of "the Seven Judges of Hell", who raised their torches, lighting the land with flame, and a storm that turned day into night, "smashed the land like a cup", and flooded the area.
The discovery of the crater has sparked great interest among scientists.
Dr Benny Peiser, who lectures on the effects of meteor impacts at John Moores University, Liverpool, said it was one of the most significant discoveries in recent years and would corroborate research he and others have done.
He said that craters recently found in Argentina date from around the same period - suggesting that the Earth may have been hit by a shower of large meteors at about the same time.
The great Peshtigo fire
Many worshipers in the church congregations throughout the small logging town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin were praying for rain on Sunday October 8, 1871. It had been a hot and dry year so far - only two measurable rains had fallen from July through September and drought conditions had been in effect since May. Creeks were dried up and the level of the Peshtigo River, upon which the townsfolk relied upon for water and transportation, was dispiritingly low. The surrounding woods and grasslands were dry and brittle and crews of volunteers from the town had spent many a day battling the sporadic wildfires that flickered across the horizon. The smoke from these fires hung low over the town and often made breathing a chore. Certainly some rain would be welcome in Peshtigo.
Just after 8:30 that evening a dull roar alarmed everyone in town. Flames from the scattered forest fires had been whipped into an inferno by ferocious winds and Peshtigo stood directly in its path. Firefighters started out to meet this new challenge but soon tossed aside their buckets and fled for home to collect their families and head for the Peshtigo River. As the blaze hit the town, the air was aglow with burning embers and walls of hot sand. Within minutes the entire town was burning. By 10:00 that night Peshtigo was gone.
That morning there had been more than 2000 residents in Peshtigo, a boom town on the railroad line. Men found abundant work in the forests and on construction crews. The world's largest wooden-ware factory was in Peshtigo. No more. The Great Peshtigo Fire and its aftermath claimed 1,125 lives. Many died of suffocation in wells where they had sought shelter, others drowned in the rivers, most simply could not escape the onrushing flames.
The fire destroyed every building in Peshtigo, save for a recently erected structure whose wood was still too green to burn. More than 1.25 million acres of forest were scorched before the winds died and the fire burned itself out before dawn. That next day, the rains finally came.
The Great Peshtigo Fire was, and is, the worst fire in the history of the United States, taking more lives than the next two worst fires combined. Yet most people have never heard of the Great Peshtigo Fire because, strangely, it occurred at the exact same time as America's most famous fire - the Great Chicago Fire. The fire in Chicago that may or may not have been started by Mrs. O'Leary's ornery cow destroyed 17,450 structures, caused about $200 million in damage and left one-third of the city homeless. Some 250 people were killed in the Chicago Fire and it grabbed every headline in America.
News of the tragedy in the small town 240 miles north of Chicago took days to reach the public and was quickly forgotten. The Governor of Wisconsin felt compelled to issue a special proclamation begging people to divert gifts from Chicago to Peshtigo. Relief supplies poured into the village and $155,000 was raised within a few months. Villagers rebuilt Peshtigo from the ashes into a new, vibrant town but the conflagration was never forgotten. The Peshtigo Fire Museum opened in 1963 to tell the story to generations who might forget. Adjacent to the museum is the Peshtigo Fire Cemetery containing the remains of several hundred unidentified persons and a monument to those who died.
For some the coincidence of two of America's most devastating fires igniting on the same day is too great. Although the ultra dry drought conditions are the official cause of the Peshtigo Fire, one theory speculates that a comet struck the earth in the area. Such a celestial intruder would be largely composed of ice and would leave no evidence. No one will ever know for certain.
Written by Doug Gelbert
I read a report on one guys study to tie the plume of the Thera volcano to the words, Staff by day, Torch by night, from the bible. He concluded that the plume would have to be 30 miles high to fit the bill. The recent Pinatubo volcano in the Phillipines was 26 miles high. So......
Disaster that struck the ancients
Four thousand two hundred years ago, the first great civilisation in Egypt collapsed.
The pharaohs of the Egyptian Old Kingdom had built the mightiest legacy of the ancient world - the pyramids at Giza. But after nearly a thousand years of stability, central authority disintegrated and the country collapsed into chaos for more than a 100 years.
What happened, and why, has remained a huge controversy. But Professor Fekri Hassan, from University College London, UK, wanted to solve the mystery, by gathering together scientific clues.
His inspiration was the little known tomb in southern Egypt of a regional governor, Ankhtifi. The hieroglyphs there reported "all of Upper Egypt was dying of hunger to such a degree that everyone had come to eating their children".
Dismissed as exaggeration and fantasy by most other Egyptologists, Fekri was determined to prove the writings were true and accurate. He also had to find a culprit capable of producing such misery.
Stalactites and stalagmites
"My hunch from the beginning was that it had to do with the environment in which the Egyptians lived." Fekri felt sure the Nile, the river that has always been at the heart of Egyptian life, was implicated.
He studied the meticulous records, kept since the 7th Century, of Nile floods. He was amazed to see that there was a huge variation in the size of the annual Nile floods - the floods that were vital for irrigating the land.
But no records existed for 2,200BC. Then came a breakthrough - a new discovery in the hills of neighbouring Israel. Mira Bar-Matthews of the Geological Survey of Israel had found a unique record of past climates, locked in the stalactites and stalagmites of a cave near Tel Aviv.
What they show is a sudden and dramatic drop in rainfall, by 20%. It is the largest climate event in 5,000 years. And the date? 2,200 BC.
As Israel and Egypt are in different weather systems, Fekri needed evidence of some worldwide climate event to link this to the collapse of the Old Kingdom. And the evidence came out of the blue.
Geologist Gerard Bond, of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, US, looks for climate evidence in the icebergs of Iceland. As they melt on their journey south, they leave shards of volcanic ash on the ocean floor.
How far they travelled before melting tells him how cold it was. Cores of mud from the ocean floor revealed to him regular periods of extreme cold - mini ice ages - in Europe every 1,500 years, and lasting 200 years. And one mini ice age occurred at 2,200 BC.
Gerard's colleague, Peter deMenocal, looked at climate records for the rest of the world at exactly the same time. From pollen records to sand, the story was the same - a dramatic climate change from Indonesia to the Mediterranean, Greenland to North America.
Scientists were confirming everything Fekri believed - severe climate change causing widespread human misery 4,200 years ago, misery we are only now learning about for the first time.
Back in Egypt, Fekri wanted to put the last piece of the puzzle in place. He wanted direct evidence of this severe climate change in the Nile. And he found it drilling cores in a large lake that had been fed by a tributary of the Nile in ancient times.
He discovered in the critical period, as the Old Kingdom collapsed, the lake had dried up completely - the only time in the whole history of this lake that this had happened. At last, Fekri felt he had proved that the writings on Ankhtifi's tomb were really true. It was nature that had driven people to desperation.
The Ancient Apocalypse series begins on BBC Two on Thursday, 26 July, at 2100 BST
And some *very* interesting speculation that the 'parting of the Red Sea' actually refers to the 'sea of reeds' area on the coast, and the 'parting' refers to the tidal wave that came after the eruption (the water receeds before a tidal wave comes in).
In other words, Noah isn't mentioned because the story of this possible disaster has nothing to do with water.
I've heard that there was a great Vedic society of legend that also disappeared some 4K(?) years ago, whose people spoke "Indo-European", a language that gave rise to Sandskrit, Greek and Proto-Germanic. It was the society from which the Vedas come from, the oldest scriptures known.
I looked for land in vain, but fourteen leagues distant there appeared a mountain, and there the boat grounded; on the mountain of Nisir the boat held fast, she held fast and did not budge. One day she held, and a second day on the mountain of Nisir she held fast and did not budge. A third day and a fourth day she held fast on the mountain and did not budge; a fifth day and a sixth day she held fast on the mountain. When the seventh day dawned I loosed a dove and let her go. She flew away, but finding no resting place she returned. Then I loosed a swallow, and she flew away but finding no resting place she returned. I loosed a raven, she saw that the waters retreated, she ate, she flew around, she cawed, but she did not come back. Then I threw everything open to the four winds, I made a sacrifice and poured a libation on the mountain top.The story refers back to the flooding of the Black Sea around some 7,000 BC. The Hebrews borrowed the story from the Sumerians.
for more on this read The Flood is Found!
I like that theory. However, I like Howard Blum's theory better. In his book, The Gold Of Exodus, he claims that the Israelites crossed the mouth of the Gulf Of Aqaba and that the real Mt. Sinai is actually in Saudi Arabia. (This is presently my favorite theory.)
I believe the account of Noah's flood as related in Ryan and Pittman's book, Noah's Flood. I read this book three times from the library, my son gave it to me as a Christmas present this year.
(will someone kindly supply a link, I don't know how, thanks.)
Linguists believe that all the Indo-European languages (The Mother Tongue) originated in Anatolia. It may have been spread far and wide from this point by the refugees from the Black Sea (Noah's) flood?
Of course, you are correct. I have travelled through the Red Sea a number of times, many years ago.
A meteor shower with significant global damage _does_ relate well to the world-wide "portents of destruction in the sky" myths.
If you like this, read the book Exodus To Arthur, by professor Mike Baillie. Great book.
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