Archeology - Kobres, Bob - Comets and the Bronze Age Collapse
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In other words, the Near East would be more heavily damaged than southern Europe.
A survey scaling intensity of site destruction might reflect this aspect, i. Secondary effects of a large impact event would include: a spottily enhanced C environment, making this means of dating unreliable to confirm or refute simultaneous destruction of disparate sites; a large production of oxides of nitrogen yielding dangerous ozone depletion, perhaps giving a survival advantage to darker skinned people in the aftermath, particularly in equatorial regions; acidic precipitation from the above-mentioned atmospheric chemistry; and, in the higher latitudes, impact winter, caused by suspended dust and soot.
All of these phenomena would leave evidence which careful field work could reveal.
Archeology - Kobres, Bob - Comets and the Bronze Age Collapse
Some indicators may already be evident, such as the abandonment of many long settled sites, a large southward movement of people from the higher latitudes, and a steep, long-term B. Definitive evidence of impact, however, can only come from a detailed analysis of debris directly overlying destruction sites.
I urge archaeologists working on this time period to diligently collect dust and debris from cracks and crevices where violent destruction is apparent. In the current Greenland ice coring project should be complete. If a large impact occurred around years ago a significant nitric acid spike will be evident in these ice core samples. Several cores are being drilled simultaneously, so the chance of finding debris in association with the nitric acid signal should be good.
An element profile on this material could then be compared with results on debris extracted from terminal Bronze Age sites. If these match, not only will there be confirmation of a violent natural catastrophe, we will also have gained a rather precise gauge of when the disaster took place. Astronomical evidence indicates our ancestors viewed a much more active sky than we. A seemingly nonsensical notion, such as Athena being born fully formed from the head of Zeus, becomes understandable as a description of comet fragmentation.
Human belief systems have been greatly influenced by the phenomena attending the progressive break-up, over thousands of years, of this large comet. The idea of a wrathful sky god or star positions influencing events on Earth are legacies of this influence.
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Many astronomers believe the Tunguska impact was from a small piece of Comet Encke. This 15 to 30 megaton event leveled sq km of dense Siberian forest, but left no crater. The terminal Bronze Age event was probably just one of several very energetic impacts which likely occurred in this time span. Our less than seven hour separation from a collision with a near-Earth asteroid FC in March of underscores the fact that contemporary civilization could be thrown into a dark age by natural catastrophe.
Had FC encountered Earth it would have introduced the energy equivalent of more than 2, megatons TNT into the environment, with little or no warning. The object was discovered on photographs days after the close pass. In an even larger object, Hermes, came almost equally near Earth. Neither of these asteroids is likely to be related to the break-up of the recent large comet referred to above.
The estimated population of Earth-orbit-crossing objects greater than half a kilometer in diameter is over 2, and its members are from various sources. Obviously our planet gets hit fairly often. The association of disaster etymologically, dis — evil; aster — star with comets eventually became generalized beyond direct causal links, giving science oriented investigators reason to classify this ubiquitous notion as mere superstition.
Scientific efforts to understand the past were thus rendered purblind to a highly influential natural phenomenon. It is technically feasible to prevent future impacts by altering the orbits of threatening objects. Unfortunately, there is little widespread support for such an Earth Defence Initiative EDI due, in part, to the general belief that humanity has not, in the past, been harmed by impact events. Archaeologists can play a key role in justifying an EDI by digging in to set the record straight. Though gaining a detailed understanding of the effects such episodic impacts had on humanity will take some time, incorporating recent astronomical evidence can provide immediate boons to our comprehension of past cultures.
The fortunate find in the seventies, at Mawangdui, China, of a Han dynasty silk comet atlas sheds considerable light on earlier enigmatic motifs. Most illuminating is the drawing, described by text on the artifact as a long-tailed pheasant star. This rendering of a jetting comet viewed down its axis of rotation has a considerable history, and, as a motif, appears on artifacts found in most areas of the world.
The artist who illustrated this silk twenty-two hundred, or so, years ago was not likely a first-hand observer. What is produced here is a schematic of received comet caricatures with claims that specific things will happen if a represented type appears. The pinwheel-like image is unique to the compilation in that an omen is given for an appearance in each of the four seasons, implying that this comet was seen more often than the others represented. This may illustrate a frequently viewed aspect of comet Encke which has a 3. Important in understanding ancient oriental lore is learning that this motif was associated with the pheasant divine bird in China which is frequently mentioned in the Chinese classics.
The link between the spinning cross and birds is evident on artifacts from many cultures. This fabulous winged deity had a radiance like the Sun, could change shapes at will, and destroyed other gods and kings by casting down fire and stirring up storms of reddish dust which darkened the Sun, Moon and stars.
Clearly Garuda was symbolic of an Earth approaching comet. All the quarters of the earth, being overwhelmed by showers of dust, look inauspicious. Fierce clouds, portentous of danger, drop bloody showers during the night. Rahu of fierce deeds is also, O monarch, afflicting the constellation Kirtika. Rough winds, portending fierce danger, are constantly blowing.
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The mention of Rahu, the demon of eclipse, which originally had four arms and a tail that was severed by Vishnu to become Ketu comet is interesting in that the demon is here darkening Kirttika the Pleiades in the month of Karttika latter half of October, through mid November , for the tale goes on to relate that:. The Sun and the Moon therefore, by undergoing eclipses on unusual days, will cause a great slaughter of the creatures of the earth.
People, for meeting together, coming out of their houses with lighted brands, have still to encounter a thick gloom all round. From the mountains of Kailasa and Mandara and Himavat thousands of explosions are heard and thousands of summits are tumbling down. Fierce winds charged with pointed pebbles are blowing, crushing mighty trees. In villages and towns trees, ordinary and sacred, are falling down, crushed by mighty winds and struck by lightning. This is, without doubt, a mythological record of an intense meteor storm from the still active Taurid stream which presently peaks around the first of November and appears to radiate from near the Pleiades star cluster.
The un-airworthy bird associated with this meteor bombardment could have been comet Encke which until recently was thought to be the sole source for the Taurid meteors. However, the discovery of other large contributors which are now dark but were once active comets rules out a positive identification. Another interesting aspect of this folk memory which might shed some light on why the rolling cross motif is linked to birds is the image of a one-legged fowl.
This is also a characteristic of the Chinese divine pheasant which was closely associated with the fabulous, lame, raven-beak-nosed emperor, Yu, who could transform himself into this pheasant or a bear. In a less artificial environ animal tracks speak strongly to people and convey much about the creature which left them. Thus a bear, bird or any animal which made impressions on the ground could be symbolically represented in total by drawing these marks. This can explain why the not very bird-like drawing on the Han silk is captioned as a pheasant star.
Symbolic bird tracks, unrecognized as such, appear on objects unearthed by Heinrich Schliemann from Hissarlik in Asia Minor. Artifactual support for this contention comes from petroglyphs found in the south-western United States which Pueblo people identify as roadrunner a type of cuckoo tracks and identical renderings found by Schliemann.
In treating now of the various kinds of potteryof this third city, I begin with the owl-faced idols and vases, and I would repeatedly call very particular attention to the fact, that the idols, of which I collected about , are all of the same shape; that they represent in the rudest possible outlines a female form; and that, therefore, they cannot but be copies of the ancient Palladium, which was fabled to have fallen from heaven with joined feet. Owls, like cuckoos, have zygodactylous or semizygodactylous outer toe reversible feet.
With this in mind, a re-examination of artifacts recovered from Hissarlik could be quite revealing.
Another aspect of comets which is evident in ancient lore involves shape shifting. A comet is three dimensional and could appear as quite a different animal when viewed from a different angle. For instance, allowing that a foot-print signifies the creature, the fabled ability of Yu mentioned above to transform into a pheasant or bear can be easily understood as a radial view distinguished from an axial view of the same comet. Comets can also change spontaneously; a gas emitting area could become dust covered and extinguish a jet, a piece of the comet could break away, creating another comet, perhaps initially more flamboyant than its parent.
Another motif which is found around the world is the concentric circle. Astronomers, with the aid of a telescope, have reported, and drawn pictures of, comets which exhibit concentric rings, so it is likely that some of these ancient renderings, often pecked in stone, represent comets. Fred Whipple, the astronomer who theorized in the now proven structure of comets, calculates that the night time Taurids have been a feature for 5, years. It now takes Earth about three months mid-September to mid-December to traverse this band of debris.
Earlier in its history, as the progenitor of comet Encke was creating it, this debris ring had to have been more dense. As Earth passed through the mess, it no doubt collected a considerable amount of dust. The night time Taurids are known for frequent bolide activity.