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.
I've read Cosmic Winter by Clube and Napier, Catastrophe by David Keys. My favorite is still Exodus To Arthur by Mike Baillie. (I'm a big fan of these cosmic theories for change)
Take a look at the moon and some of the Jovian planets' moons like Callisto sometimes .... you'll see PLENTY of overlapped craters.
Baillie is an Irish dendrochronologist. He noticed five sudden severe climate events (some have called them 'near extinction' events) at 3195BC, 2354BC, 1628BC, 1159BC and 540AD (Two more minor events at 207BC and 44BC). All these events (except the 540AD event) are recorded in the Ice Core data. He thinks the 540AD event, Dark Ages, (and possibly others) is the result of comet activity. I like the way he ties known historical data to these events.
TALE OF ARTHUR POINTS TO COMET CATASTROPHE
From The Times, 9 September 2000
BY NICK NUTTALL
Arthur: myth links him to fire from the sky
THE story of the death of King Arthur and its references to a wasteland may have been inspired by the apocalyptic effects of a giant comet bombarding the Earth in AD540, leading to the Dark Ages, a British scientist said yesterday.
The impacts filled the atmosphere with dust and debris; a long winter began. Crops failed, and there was famine, Dr Mike Baillie of Queen's University, Belfast, told the British Association for the Advancement of Science. There was now overwhelming evidence from studies of tree rings of a catastrophic climate change at that time, he said.
Dr Baillie, who is based at the university's school of archaeology and palaeoecology, said studies of Irish oaks showed that the climate suddenly became inhospitable around AD540. Other researchers had discovered the same narrow rings on trees in places such as Germany, Scandinavia, Siberia, North America and China. "For all these trees to show the same rings at the same time means it must have been a profoundly unpleasant event, a catastrophic environmental downturn, in AD540, which is in or at the beginning of the Dark Ages."
The tightly bound rings are consistent with fierce frosts that would have devastated agriculture and made a malnourished population more vulnerable to the plague of 542, which killed millions. Plague-carrying rats and pests would have been looking for sustenance, thus hastening the spread of the disease.
Dr Baillie said that there were several theories as to the explanation. One was that a vast volcano had erupted and pumped huge amounts of dust into the atmosphere. Yet such a volcano "would have been out of all proportion to ones we see in recent times", he said, adding that the geological records bore no trace of it.
The other theory, he said,was that huge fragments from a giant comet had hit the Earth, causing violent explosions and a dramatic cooling of the planet. "My view is that we had a cometary bombardment - not a full-blown comet, or we would not be here, but parts of a comet."
Dr Baillie said the hypothesis was supported by studies by astronomers and astrophysicists including Mark Bailey, of the Armagh Observatory, Victor Clube, of Oxford University, and Bill Napier, formerly of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. They had calculated that there was a strong likelihood that the Earth suffered a cometary bombardment between 400 and 600, based on records of high meteor shower activity. They had linked it with the break-up of the comet Biela.
It was hoped that scientists in Greenland would analyse ice cores for signs of cometary dust. They were soon to carry out chemical analysis for tree rings for similar clues.
Dr Baillie urged historians to examine the records for writings that may record the events. "You can read about the Justinian plague in conventional history books but you cannot read about the cometary bombardment. The trees single out an episode which can be best described as catastrophic, and it isn't there in written history."
There was, however, some support buried in mythological writings and other works. Roger of Wendover had referred in 540 or 541 to a "comet in Gaul so vast that the whole sky seemed on fire. In the same year there dropped real blood from the clouds . . . and a dreadful mortality ensued".
Dr Baillie also cited the death of King Arthur, which is dated to 537, 539 and 542 in various works, as establishing possible links with fire from the sky and destruction. Dr Baillie said that Arthur was linked in old Irish with CuChulainn, the sky god, who in turn was linked with the Celtic bright sky god Lugh variously described as "bright as the setting sun, comes up in the west, and of the mighty blows".
"The Arthurian stories with their Celtic antecedents of bright sky gods and 'wasteland' come with traditional dates for Arthur's death."
Dr Baillie said that the myths hinted strongly at a bombardment as the causes of an environmental downturn.
Copyright 2000, The Times Newspapers Ltd.
You don't see many here though.
Carolina Bays (300,000-500,000 of these)
"Near-Earth objects (NEOs) comprise a heterogeneous population of objects from a variety of sources ranging from long-period comets to the main asteroid belt. Recent dynamical results show that the orbits are chaotic, and that comets may in principle evolve into orbits similar to those of objects usually classified as asteroids (and vice-versa), and that comets and asteroids may resemble one another depending on the phase of their physical evolution and heliocentric distance."
"Test on various late Third millennium BC archaeological deposit provides evidence for the regional occurrence in northern Syria of a layer with an uncommon petrographic assemblage, dated at ca. 2350 BC. It consists of fine sand-sized, well-sorted spherules of various composition, millimetric sized fragments of a black, vesicular, amorphous material made of silicates with Mg-Ca carbonate and phosphate inclusions, ovoid micro-aggregates made of densely packed crystals and exogenous angular fragments of a coarse crystallised igneous rock. All these particles are only present in this specific layer and are finely mixed with mud-brick debris or with a burnt surface horizon in the contemporaneous soils. In occupation sequences, the layer displays an uncommon dense packing of sand-sized, very porous aggregates that suggests disintegration of the mud-brick construction by an air blast. In the virgin soil, the burnt horizon contains black soot and graphite, and appears to have been instantaneously fossilized by a rapid and uncommon colluvial wash. Occurrence in a previously recorded thick tephra deposit of particles identical to some of the mysterious layer and resemblance of its original pseudo-sand fabric with the exploded one of the mysterious layer confirms that the later is contemporaneous with the tephra deposit. ... The restricted occurrence of the [tephra deposit] suggests that the massive tephra accumulation can no longer be considered as a typical fallout derived from the dispersion of material from a terrestrial volcanic explosion. ... Origin of this mysterious phenomena still remains unsolved."
Courty continues that this new dating causes the Akkad empire sudden collapse theory, based on an abrupt climate change, to lose its basis. I see however that the evidence of a great cataclysm between 2200 BC and 2190 BC is so compelling that on this basis we can't dismiss it. On the other hand, Courty is right in her theory of a major occurrence which I would date between 2350 BC and 2340 BC. When the External Collapse Theory (ECT) was first introduced in the late 1980's or early 1990's, the proponents talked about an event ca. 2300 BC. The 1994 SIS Conference talked about a 2200 BC event. In the Cambridge Conference 1997 and elsewhere also there has been an accumulating evidence of some event around 2350 BC besides the 2200 BC event. I suggest that there really were two disparate events, a local one in Near East 2200-2190 BC and 150 years later, 2200-2190 BC, a global one.
"In 1988 the observation was made that narrowest-ring events in Irish sub-fossil oak chronologies appeared to line up with large acidities in the Greenland ice records from Camp Century and Dye3. Three of the events, at tree-ring ages 2345 BC, 1628 BC and 1159 BC turned out to be of particular interest as they contributed to debates on the Hekla 4 eruption in Iceland, Santorini [Thera] in the Aegean, and, possibly, Hekla 3..."
I think there are good grounds to combine the 1628 BC event with Santorini/Thera, but Hekla 4 looks like a later event, ca. 2300 BC, and vice versa the 2350 BC event doesn't look like a volcanic event. Also the connection between Hekla 3 and the 1159 BC event is questionable, because of its larger context from Mycenean to Shang dynasty China.
Baillie has later come to the conclusion that only 1628 BC is volcano-based, but 2345BC and 1159BC are not.
"...Most sites in Greece (ca.260), Anatolia (ca.350), the Levant (ca.200), Mesopotamia (ca.30), the Indian subcontinent (ca.230), China (ca.20), Persia/Afghanistan (ca.50), Iberia (ca.70) which collapsed at around 2200+-200 BC, exhibit unambiguous signs of natural calamities and/or rapid abandonment. The proxy data detected in the marine, terrestrial, biological and archaeological records point to sudden ecological, climatic and social upheavals which appear to coincide with simultaneous sea- and lake-level changes, increased levels of seismic activity and widespread flood/tsunami disasters. The main problem in interconnecting this vast amount of data chronologically is the application of incoherent and imprecise dating methods in different areas of geological and climatological research..."
I would like to add Finland to this list: The population here dropped suddenly to third of its previous value sometimes between 2400 BC and 2000 BC (Turku University).
Another aspect of this is that if there ever was a real (pre)historical background for the flood- and other catastrophe stories, including Plato's Timaios and Critias and the Oera Linda book. The flood stories in Genesis, Plato and Oera Linda may have got some of their content from the evident Atlantic tsunami in 2200-2190 BC, although I consider the main flood originator both in general and especially Atrahasis/Gilgames/Genesis something that happened about 3100 BC.
Two separate cataclysms
So it seems that there were two separate cataclysms in the latter part of the third millennium BC.
The period of Sargon, from 2334 BC to 2279 BC, was very prosperous. Under the reign of Naram-Sin from 2254 BC to 2218 BC everything still seemed "normal". Akkadian Sumer was a welfare state in its own way during those times. If the Anatolian event of 2345 BC was a local one, it neatly explains Sargon's attack on the south of Anatolia, because of the havoc in north, and also the prosperity that followed when the highly civilized Akkadian culture moved south. In fact before 2345 BC there was not any big difference between Northern and Southern Mesopotamia. But when the North was in Chaos, this meant both welfare and difficulties for the South. The population increased suddenly, which stressed the food supply seems to have driven hungry people still farther to the south, towards Egypt. Still Sumer prospered. But 150 years later all this came to an abrupt end. The reign of Shar-Kali-Sharri was interrupted suddenly into a chaos in 2193 BC .
How about Egypt? The end of the Old Kingdom of Egypt is surrounded by many uncertainties. Modern Egyptologists originally thought that its last king was Pepi II, whose reign began about 2250 BC. Later his reign was counted as having lasted 90 years. Still later they added two more kings, Intiemsaef II and Neithkeret. If we accept the original estimate that Pepi II was the last Old Kingdom king, and if we take as a tentative theory that the catastrophe also happened in Egypt in 2193 BC, it still gives Pepi a reign of some 60 years.
So there seems to be a difference between the 2350 BC and 2200 BC events. I suggest that the 2350 BC event was local, an Anatolian event, from the Aegean to the Caspian. The 2200 BC event was global, as seen by the evidence from Iberia to China. The Rio Cuarto impact in Argentina seems also to have happened during the latter part of the third millennium BC. Unable to destroy Tell Leilan and leave surroundings untouched, I would link it rather to the 2200 BC event. With its 50 km long and 10 km wide destruction path consisting of 11 craters (the largest one is 4.5 km long and 1.1 km wide) it must have had global consequences. Because of its different direction (nearly north to south) and different latitude of impact at 20 degrees S would however hint that it was a third and separate event during the series of catastrophes during the late third millennium BC. Be it connected to either of the mentioned cataclysms or a separate one in the late third millennium, one thing is sure: it must have had wordwide consequences, especially climatological. A flood event it was not, because it happened right in the middle of South America. But it itself was a multiple event and can have been accompanied by some debris that fall into Atl
In fact Greek mythology speaks of three flood events, of which the Ogyges and Deucalion legends are the most famous. Ogyges would then be the Anatolian event of 2345 BC and Deucalion event the global event of 2193-2194 BC. The third would be that of Atrahasis and Gilgames (the precursor for the Noachian flood) but because it happened in the first part of the unlucky third millennium BC, it is not considered here.
But let's go back to the 2200 BC event. In China a ruler named Yu, who has been praised of attempts to stop floods in China, reigned according to the standard chronology from 2205 BC to 2197 BC. The legend tells that at the time of the birth of Abra(ha)m there was a guest star (supernova). Bamboo Annals give one in 2287 BC. Again according to legend Abraham was of age 99, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. If we take this literally we get the year 2188 BC, but of course the 99 years could also mean "nearly 100".
Marie-Agnes Court (The Soil Record of an Exceptional Event at 4000 BP in the Middle East (Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations, ed. Benny Peiser et al., Oxford 1998)), whose excavations at Tell Leilan in Northern Syria has led to two layers of burnt soil, whose calibrations (from radiocarbon age) yield ages of 4400-3900 BC and 4800-4300 BC, open also the above two windows. Benny Peiser ("Comparative Analysis of Late Holocene Upheaval") says that "Floodplain deposits of up to 3 metres thick and stretching up to 15 kilometres inland have been detected between Tirys and Mycenae" dated to ca. 2200-2300 BC.
Now there is a very interesting coincidence. There exists one very old Frisian manuscript named the Oera Linda book. It was found in 1820, but the scientific community condemned it as a forgery in 1871. We can ask if that was too hasty a conclusion. One of the reasons the issue should be reconsidered is that the book is some kind of a diary from the third millennium BC to about 500 BC. Right in the beginning is mentioned "The destruction of Atland" in 2194 BC. It describes the paradise before that, the year 2194 "when the bad days came", the escape of Atlanders first to Crete, where they founded their culture, the Minoan culture.
Sodom and Gomorrah
There have been excavations on the Lisan peninsula, which nearly cuts the southern part of the Dead Sea off from the rest of it. It is also different from the main Dead Sea in that it's mean depth is very different from the rest of the Dead Sea, only 10 m in average. It seems that there was a great catastrophe around 2200 BC that has destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The surface of the Dead Sea dropped suddenly by 100m around 2200 BC (Frumkin et al., The Holocene 1.3, 1991). If we take the story in Genesis for what it seems to indicate, the whole southern part of the Dead Sea may be an impact crater that was caused by a cosmic disaster, one piece in the 2200 BC disaster.
That would be because has hydrology and a decent atmosphere that weathers at exposed rock.
The irony would be if Arizona got pasted at Meteor crater again.
Blam, what were you doing at the Red Sea? I've been throughout most of Israel but never quite made it to the Red Sea.
In my youth, first the Navy then as a merchant seaman. I still have a bronze statue of Nefertiti I picked up in Cairo in the early sixties. My dogs are named "Tutt" (King Tutencharmen(sp), "Ra", "Nef" (Nefertiti) and "Solo" (King Solomon) has passed on. I broke the Egyptian dog naming cycle by naming my last dog "boots." lol.
You can name the next one after a tree ring.