Cosmic Airburst May have Wiped Out Part of the Middle East, 3700 Years Ago

Chelyabinsk Meteor

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Archaeologists have advanced a theory that towns and people in a region just north of the Dead Sea may have been obliterated by a Tunguska style airburst, 3,700 years ago.

Cosmic Airburst May Have Wiped Out Part of the Middle East 3,700 Years Ago

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | November 28, 2018 06:32am ET

Some 3,700 years ago, a meteor or comet exploded over the Middle East, wiping out human life across a swath of land called Middle Ghor, north of the Dead Sea, say archaeologists who have found evidence of the cosmic airburst.

The airburst “in an instant, devastated approximately 500 km2 [about 200 square miles] immediately north of the Dead Sea, not only wiping out 100 percent of the [cities] and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields and covering the eastern Middle Ghor with a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts pushed over the landscape by the event’s frontal shock waves,” the researchers wrote in the abstract for a paper that was presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting held in Denver Nov. 14 to 17. Anhydride salts are a mix of salt and sulfates.

“Based upon the archaeological evidence, it took at least 600 years to recover sufficiently from the soil destruction and contamination before civilization could again become established in the eastern Middle Ghor,” they wrote. Among the places destroyed was Tall el-Hammam, an ancient city that covered 89 acres (36 hectares) of land. [Wipe Out: History’s Most Mysterious Extinctions]

Read more: https://www.livescience.com/64179-ancient-cosmic-airburst-middle-east.html

Obviously early days with this theory, but this claim opens the question, how many currently unexplained cultural collapses and devastations will turn out to have been caused by meteor impacts or other natural disasters?

Perhaps its time we started taking real threats seriously, even low probability high impact events like major meteor strikes, and stopped wasting time and resources chasing imaginary problems like global warming.

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125 thoughts on “Cosmic Airburst May have Wiped Out Part of the Middle East, 3700 Years Ago

  1. This is old news. The claim earlier is that the meteor bounced into the Alps, and based on the angle, the backwash spread down to the Dead Sea, causing the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah and one guy’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt. Also, whole villages were wiped out in a flash fire. One town has hundreds or is it thousands of dead buried at one time. That impact site was not found, so it looks like they are claiming no, it actually hit the Dead Sea.

    • The original story was traced from a clay tablet by a Mosul astronomer who observed the meteor and noted its direction.

      • That was also the last known instance of straight news reporting. It’s been all spin and propaganda since then.

        • Well, I’m OK with stopping “…wasting time and resources chasing imaginary problems like global warming.” At least that allows for some intelligent progress to resume.

          Then we can explore Tunguska-like meteor events!

      • This is a completely different event. The 3100 BCE event to which you refer has nothing to do with this. The Sodom/Gommorah story was shoehorned into that event. It doesn’t come near a possible date for the biblical story. The Genesis story is clearly set in the Middle Bronze Age, roughly 2500-1500 BCE.

        • Moses on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Deuteronomy 29:22–23: “Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it. The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger.” —NIV

          Sacred text is built from earlier tales, because the most apocalyptic ones were the most re-told. But God’s Little Helpers can be counted upon to fudge time spans and sequence.

          My theory on Lot and his wife is that it is a whitewashed version of the tale, perhaps once told in jest but people take it literally now. Lot’s daughters had the hots for him and he for them. Wife did not approve. Possibly also people in the city did not approve either and cast them out. So on the way out Lot sells his wife into slavery and he and his daughters head off into the sunset. Payment in kind, a “pillar of salt” which was currency. Salt was carried as crystalline pillars that were made by pouring salt slurry into deep round holes and as it dried, meshing the crystals solid by pounding with poles. Then a pillar of hard salt is lifted out of the hole.

          Perhaps a Dead Sea impact happened around that time, which gave the whitewash crew a chance to brand the city folk wicked and deserving of their fate. Selling one’s own wife into slavery needed to be fixed. That bit in the cave founding new tribes from incest was be left in for entertainment.

          • I might just take that conjecture with a “grain of salt”. The tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is commonly explained in this way. The difference here is details in the text that make it unlikely later observers would accidently guess. Tall el Hammam was destroyed absolutely at the end of the Middle Bronze Age by a singular event. The excavation is clear on that. The land was not reoccupied for 500-600 years. Evidence suggests it may have been the location of Moses’ command post before entry into Canaan. Later Solomon built a fortress city in the vicinity, likely the very spot considering strategic advantages. Later it held a “toll” station. Then a Roman town was built there. There is no indication any of these entities knew what lay beneath including Moses (or an alternative source if you don’t accept Moses). Yet when excavated to again see the light of day in the 21st century, the details of its construction, population, history, religious practices, and destruction are entirely consistent with the bible account. In academia we would suggest this at least warrants further investigation.

      • Donald,

        This is not old news. Principle excavation at Tall el-Hammam only began 13 years ago. The theories being presented now have only been proposed in the past 5 years.

        The destruction and civilizational hiatus is very localized due to the terrain features. If we assume a 1 kilometer burst height, there would have been no effect on sites not in the terminal Jordan Valley due to elevation differences of more than 1 kilometer to the top of the adjacent plateaus and mountains. The destruction affected approximately 10 cities and numerous villages and hamlets, all of which are well below sea level.

        And the silliness of talking about a meteor hitting in the alps and bouncing south? The desert glass that has been found was within 4 miles of Tell el-Hammam.

        PBH

        • For the technical article see
          Collins, S. and Silvia, P., 2017. The Civilization-Ending 3.7 KYrBP Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, and Biblical Implications.
          https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Phillip_Silvia/publication/286450259_The_Civilization-Ending_37KYrBP_Event_Archaeological_Data_Sample_Analyses_and_Biblical_Implications/links/5669f41208ae430ab4f75280/The-Civilization-Ending-37KYrBP-Event-Archaeological-Data-Sample-Analyses-and-Biblical-Implications.pdf
          Abstract

          This paper overviews the collective evidences for a cosmic airburst event that obliterated civilization—including the Middle Bronze Age city-state anchored by Tall el-Hammam—in the Middle Ghor = the Kikkar of the Jordan (of Gen 10-19), ca. 1700 BCE, or 3700 years before present (3.7KYrBP). Analyses of samples taken over seven seasons of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project (TeHEP) have been performed by a team of scientists from New Mexico Tech, Northern Arizona University, North Carolina State University, Elizabeth City (NC) State University, DePaul University, Trinity Southwest University, and Los Alamos National Laboratories, with remarkable results. Commensurate with these results are the archaeological data collected from across the entire occupational footprint (36ha) of Tall el-Hammam, demonstrating a directionality pattern for the high-heat, explosive 3.7KYrBP Kikkar Event that, in an instant, devastated approximately 500km2 immediately N of the Dead Sea, not only wiping out 100% of Kikkar MBA cities and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields and covering the E Kikkar—including Tall el-Hammam—with a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts pushed over the landscape by the Event’s frontal shockwave(s). In the aftermath of the Event, soil science reveals a sequence of soil recovery on the Kikkar of the Jordan that explains why it took at least 600 years for agricultural activity to resume in the area. Authors S. Collins (TeHEP Director and Chief Archaeologist) and P. Silvia (TeHEP Field Archaeologist and Director of Scientific Analysis) also demonstrate how these data mesh with biblical texts related to the Kikkar of the Jordan, including the destruction of the Land of the Kikkar and its famous cities (Gen 19).

    • Yes it is very old I have seen stuff on this junk from the period of Erich von Däniken believing sodom and gomorrah was a nuclear test. The great part about physics forums is the junk re-cylces every 20 years or so, so we tend to run across old junk re-promoted by a new generation.

      • However, they also revisit what you call old junk (i.e., the still unexplained) every time a new theory or observation comes out that might apply. Several that I knew had what you might call an ‘unsolved case file’ on which they had been cogitating for months to years. When Stephen Hawking proposed his theory of micro or mini black holes it was all a couple of them could talk about for a week or so.

      • This story has absolutely no connection to what you are talking about except the use of the routinely pejorative names Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s legitimate archaeology and potentially one of the greater finds in recent archaeological history. A legend that becomes historical fact.

    • Donald,

      This is not old news. Principle excavation at Tall el-Hammam only began 13 years ago. The theories being presented now have only been proposed in the past 5 years.

      The destruction and civilizational hiatus is very localized due to the terrain features. If we assume a 1 kilometer burst height, there would have been no effect on sites not in the terminal Jordan Valley due to elevation differences of more than 1 kilometer to the top of the adjacent plateaus and mountains. The destruction affected approximately 10 cities and numerous villages and hamlets, all of which are well below sea level.

      And the silliness of talking about a meteor hitting in the alps and bouncing south? The desert glass that has been found was within 4 miles of Tell el-Hammam.

      • The conjecture about the 3100bc event was that the “backscatter” from the impactor rose into the ionosphere(?) and reentered above the Jordan Valley. Even if it were so, wrong time wrong stuff, wrong result.

    • For the Alps cosmic impact event see:
      Mahaney, W.C., West, A., Milan, A., Krinsley, D.H., Somelar, P., Schwartz, S., Milner, M.W. and Allen, C.C., 2018. COSMIC AIRBURST ON DEVELOPING ALLERØD SUBSTRATES (SOILS) IN THE WESTERN ALPS, MT. VISO AREA. Studia Quaternaria, 35(1), pp.3-23.
      http://www.studia.quaternaria.pan.pl/pdfs/sq35-1/1_Mahaney.pdf

      Abstract
      Although much has been written about a cosmic impact event in the Western Alps of the Mt. Viso area, the event closely tied with the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) of 12.8 ka and onset of the Younger Dryas (YD), the affected land surface is considered to contain a similar black mat suite of sediment found on three continents. While work elsewhere has focused on recovered sediment from lake and ice cores, buried lacustrine/alluvial records, and surface glacial and paraglacial records, no one has traced a mountain morphosequence of deposits with the objective of investigating initial weathering/soil morphogenesis that occurred in ice recessional deposits up to the YDB when the surface was subjected to intense heat, presumably, as hypothesized by Mahaney et al. (2016a) from a cosmic airburst. With the land surface rapidly free of ice following glacial retreat during the Bølling-Allerød interstadial, weathering processes ~13.5 to 12.8 ka led to weathering and soil morphogenesis in a slow progression as the land surface became free of ice. To determine the exposed land character in the mid- to late-Allerød, it is possible to utilize an inverted stratigraphic soil morphogenesis working backward in time, from known post-Little Ice Age (LIA) (i.e. time-zero) through LIA (~0.45 to ~0.10 ka), to at least the middle Neoglacial (~2 ka), to answer several questions. What were the likely soil profile states in existence at the end of the Allerød just prior to the cosmic impact/airburst (YDB)? Assuming these immature weathered regolith sections of the Late Allerød approximated the <1 ka old profiles seen today, and assuming the land surface was subjected to a hypothesized instant temperature burst from ambient to ~2200oC at ~12.8 ka, what would be the expected effect on the resident sediment? To test the mid-LG (YDB) to YD relationship we analyzed the paleosols in both suites of deposits – mid-LG to YD – to test that the airburst grains are restricted to Late Allerød paleosols and using relative-age-determination criteria, that the overlapping YD to mid-LG moraines are closely related in time. These are some of the questions about the black mat that we seek to answer with reference to sites in the upper Guil and Po rivers of the Mt. Viso area.

  2. ‘Scuse me but this is the God Squad!

    Veritas International University

    Not saying their wrong because of that but I’m taking a pinch (or pillar maybe) of salt with this!

    • There is an odd contradiction (to my mind) with these folks who believe the Bible must be read literally. They are not content with the, God Performed a Miracle, explanation. They insist that there are completely natural explanations for the destruction of the cities of the plane, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, Noah’s flood, and on and on.

      You’d think they’d rather like the idea that God acts directly in the world.

    • The head researcher is At Trinity Southwest University which is, yes, Christian oriented. The research is quite solid. The site was indeed located by following the directions in the Bible. But that didn’t make the sites and the ruins appear. They were surveyed decades ago and the surveys were Amman, Jordan. There are a LOT of ruins in the Middle East. No one was interested enough to excavate these until Doctor Collins decided to follow the directions there given. He and others have noted that there is no fictional geography in the Bible. Whatever the story line, it is set in a real world geography. With apologies, “no middle earth, no hundred acre wood”. Collins noted there is more geographical information about Sodom than any place in the Old Testament. Those directions led him to Tall el Hammam. His papers are quite solid. The “desert glass” and Trinitite found at the site suggested an impactor or “air burst”. It was indeed found oriented in the spot consistent with the blast debris in the city. The timing is also consistent. The incineration of the soil suggest the reason the site was never rebuild (the land was no longer fertile). These and more are the findings. One can now choose there own narrative.

  3. Eric, have you ever been to Trona, California, where they produce anhydride salts? The stench is incredible, leaving me to wonder if the ancient Middle Ghor people just got tired of it and moved. I worked on a gold prospect in the nearby Panamint mountains and every time we stopped at a bar in Trona, the locals said “you boys must be visitors”, which they detected because we didn’t smell to high heaven. Then they asked ” do you know the Trona joke?” We had heard this many times but always said no, so they told the joke, which follows: This guy Herbie and his girlfriend were out in his car in Los Angeles and were making out. Things got very heated and the turned-on girlfriend says “Oh Herbie, kiss me where it stinks”, so he drove her to Trona.

    • Worked in a steel mill.
      Which meant that I smelled faintly of brimstone no matter how well or how frequently I scrubbed.

      Days that I worked in the Powerhouse, I smelled slightly less of brimstone. Days that I worked in the Open Hearth, especially the days that I drilled heat exchange tube clear of iron oxide dust caused me to reek heavily of brimstone for days.

      Technical note: Even back in the Seventies, USS captured the exhaust and heat from the melt. That exhaust, ‘waste heat’, was run through a maze of tunnels, then run through heat exchanger to generate steam that ran generators.
      Open Hearth laborers shoveled, by hand, all of the detritus captured in the tunnels. Often when they opened the doors to the tunnels, iron oxide dust was drifted across the entrance. Trust me, a shovel full of iron dust is dang heavy.

      My assignment was the Powerhouse crew. The Powerhouse was responsible for the generators and heat exchangers. After the tunnels collected the larger dust, our heat exchanger tubes collected the finer dust.
      Before running the waste heat through the heat exchanger tubes in water/steam tanks, the waste heat was run through steam pipes carrying the steam generated, superheating the steam before it drove the generators.
      As laborers, we tied rags around our cuffs to close off entry to our clothes. We also tied rags over every part of our body that might get exposed to iron dust. Leaving the only exposed parts, of skin, under our ears and chin, as we wore full face masks to protect our air.
      Using air driven butterfly drills we would work the drill head into the tubes, blasting iron oxide powder directly at us as we had to stand firmly and solidly while working the air drill.

      We used the maximum air pressure available without reducing valves; which drove the butterfly drill heads at approximately 30,000 RPM. Spinning a drill head outside of the tubes was extremely dangerous and deadly; much like a loose and whipping fire hose.

      Thanks to getting bathed in iron oxide and sulfurous dust for 6 – 8 hours a day, I reeked of brimstone when cleaning heat exchangers.

      How hot could it be!?
      Usually, we were sent into the heat exchangers when they were fairly cooled.
      Once when there was a rush to get a steel furnace back in operation, a foreman ordered us into a heat exchanger whose superheat tubes were still glowing orange.
      We demanded a Union representative and the Safety representative to check the conditions. Which left us with a very uncomfortable twenty or so minutes waiting while an enraged foreman threatened our jobs, threatened our future and made many uncomplimentary remarks. End result dictated by the Safety representative kept everyone from working inside that heat exchanger almost a full day.
      Turns out there were official temperature standards before employees were allowed to enter the heat exchanger.
      Why did we refuse direct orders?
      Well, we had to walk across those superheat tubes to reach the heat exchanger tubes. It is a most uncomfortable feeling when one’s soles are melting. And a slip walking across the tops of tubes with gaps a foot can pass through, would literally leave a person cooking on a grill.

      Why did the foreman go irate berserk on us? It turned out that he had promised a senior executive that we would clean the heat exchanger within days.

      Those working the iron works and coke works enjoyed a much greater level of brimstone reek.

      We couldn’t smell the difference after a few days.
      I knew about the odor because of girlfriends. They explained in great detail as they gave me gifts like big bottles of English Leather.

      The same goes for workers in other smelly jobs.
      Cleaning out the cow barn is only gut wrenching the first few times. Noticing the stench disappears even quicker.

      Meaning, those who are used to the odor couldn’t tell whether someone smelled of the locality or not.

      [Tough job. Now done by the Chinese. With no safety rep, no union rep. .mod]

      • We still don’t know the precise meaning many of the original Hebrew words. Cultural differences are vast. Gophryt = modern understanding of brimstone is questionable. If the cause of destruction were an airburst, do you think they had any idea what the stuff raining down was. “Moses, just go ahead and call it ‘gophryt’. In three millenia, they will make up what THEY think it is.”

          • “Fire from Jehovah’s breath” seems like a possible guess, but as you noted, the word also seems to be associated something resinous as well. If the detonation chucked (esoteric science word) up a large amount of the Salt Sea as well, you could have quite a brew of superheated water, petrochemicals and salts. The Hebrew language is built from concrete ideas and functional descriptions. Describing a singular event with primitive roots would be an unenviable task.

          • “Gopher” might simply be “kopher”, as Hebrew G and K are similar. “Kopher” means pitch, as in flammable resin.

    • Try working in or living near a paper mill. Dad worked at Potlatch for 35 years. There was a spraybar workers could drive under leaving the mill, to rinse off the “fallout ” from the stacks, which would eat the paint on a car. Any vehicle from the vicinity had the telltale sulphurous odor baked permanently into the upholstery. Locals say the mill “smells like money to me!” as it paid very good wages and benefits for sixty years.

    • I’ve been to Trona several times. Never noticed a smell, but maybe that’s because a) it was after 2013, b) it was always in the winter, or c) the wind was always blowing the wrong way. Got there by motorcycle (I don’t ride when it’s too hot) with friends. Once we went to the museum, and Margaret (sp?), a wonderful docent that regaled us for hours. She was one of the oldest residents there. Ate at different restaurants/bars (we’re big on beers, but the choices were rather limited there or at nearby (~30 miles) Randsburg. A fun ride in a desolate part of the state. Never heard that joke, but I’m passing it onto my riding buddies!

  4. 200 square miles? That is an 8 mile radius. That is tiny.
    “not only wiping out 100 percent of the [cities] and towns,”

    How many within 8 miles (or 16 max)? That is not a great distance by even ancient standards.

    Too localised I think to have had any lasting impact.

    RS

    • The story of Abram [Abraham] and Lot takes several chapters (13 to 19) of Genesis and is a long and complicated story. I’m not sure there is any other city as ancient as Sodom that gets more treatment in the Pentateuch; it’s obviously very significant. Here is the An American Translation [AAT] version of Gen 19:23-29:

      The sun rose over the country as Lot came to Zoar; then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire, coming from the LORD in heaven. And He destroyed those towns, the whole plain, all who lived in the towns and anything that grew on the ground.

      But Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.

      Early in the morning Abraham came to the place where he had stood before the LORD. When he looked down at Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole plain in the valley, he saw thick smoke rise from the ground like the smoke of a smelting furnace.

      And so when God destroyed the towns in the valley, He thought of Abraham and took Lot out of the destruction when He destroyed the towns where Lot was living.

      The meteor is a logical and reasonable secular version of the fire that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and the small area destroyed argues that God performed quite a precise bombing run, destroying only the sinful cities. Archaeology is now confirming the Genesis account.

      • Yep.

        Tunguska sized meteor would’ve been about right. 5 to 25 megatons relative kinetic energy; supercomputer hydrodynamic modeling (now in 4D!) millisecond-by-millisecond shows that all bun iron-dominant meteors essentially vaporize to a chaotic plume of superheated plasma along with the atmosphere it passes through. The plume can (and often does at these energy levels) extend to ground-level.

        A fair fraction (over 20%) of the kinetic energy becomes heat-and-light. 60% becomes air-compression energy, ‘invested’ in a blast front not unlike that experienced in a oh-so-tiny-way by the residents around Russia’s Chelyabinsk air blast a few years back. The remaining 15% (but which can range from 5% to over 50%!) becomes involved in spiriting along the few ‘survivor’ meteor bits to be strewn downfield of the ephemeris dictated trajectory.

        All that aside, a Tunguska± blast would definitely have destroyed Sodom and the surrounds, were it even somewhat close (±25 km) on-center. The “pillar-of-stone” bit is pure story-telling genius, as no blast would turn anyone to rock. Even if it were interstellar antimatter making a dramatic entry (resulting in a huge blast of gamma). No flesh-into-stone. Narrative liberty, to get the attention of the people and punctuate (sorry) that defying God was a really, really bad idea. Bad. Got that?

        After all, to the ancients, salt was the only known material that’d dissolve in water completely, turning from hard crystal white to completely transparent and invisible. They didn’t have sugar. Or baking soda. Or any of the dozens of common modern-era chemicals that dissolve completely. Only salt.

        Finally — tho’ this’ll likely irritate our True Believers — current-era primitive culture anthropological research has uncovered a nearly unbroken human trait to making up “god stories” for unusual meteorological or simply unexplainable-within-the-framework-of-the-primitive events. Witness “Cargo Cult” (google searches provide ample reading material.) Unfortunately, there are no extant cultures in the Amazon where a 1+ MT impactor impacted back in oh, est. 1930s … were living.

        But, the anthropological evidence is solid. Cultures experiencing some great thing, tend to tell creative philosophically resounding stories about it, and the story grows, evolves, stabilizes over the long retelling over time.

        Just saying,
        GoatGuy

  5. “how many currently unexplained cultural collapses and devastations will turn out to have been caused by meteor impacts or other natural disasters?”

    Just about none.
    Make a sensational story though, and that seems to be what counts.

    • Can you expand on that? At first glance celestial events and natural disasters would seem to be very good candidates as a culprit to explain a number of mysteries.

      • 70% of the planet is ocean. Another 15% is desert or frozen land. Ancient people struggled to move water long distances, so could not live in large cities, except next to large sources of fresh water, and fertile farm land.
        The odds are against killing a significant amount of people with a random meteor air-burst. They are infrequent, and population density was very low.
        Much more likely to happen from famine or disease. The most likely reason for cultural collapses is bureaucratic greed and incompetence. It is human nature to want to take what others have, and when you can use government or religious power to do so, many people will not resist that temptation.

  6. Russia proposed recently SDE, Strategic Defense of the Earth, for exactly these kinds of disasters. For those who remeber SDI, Strtegic Defense Initiative of Reagan in 1983, refused then by Andropov, this is a real turnaround.
    With all the INF SALT talk going on now, we might need SDI anyway.
    There is very good evidence the Iron age began when the sky literally fell on the Halstatt Celts – 9 craters obliterated everything for 200 years.
    Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

    Massive crater under Greenland’s ice points to climate-altering impact in the time of humans

    • SF has been considering this since the year dot. I’ve got a short story called Hittile in one of my collections. While that was just a bit of fun running through various drive options (I’m particularly fond of the steam rocket) the basic idea, kinetic impact, is probably sound in the extreme case of late pick-up, big impacter.

      Space Watch is an important idea and it’s becoming possible thanks to Space X etc.

      JF

      JF

    • I know you meant as a joke but yes , Erich von Daniken believed that exact thing … well at least it helped peddle a book.

  7. Now if only the Warmers lobby could somehow attach CO2 to the space defence , then its good for many more years to come. Saarc of course.

    MJE

    • Well Micheal we have to make Kerry’s 3 inch thick blanket of co2 that goes right across the very top of the atmosphere from one side to the other impermeable to incoming objects, if they just bounce off it, happy days.

  8. stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields and covering the easter…

    (First question for these doomsters is “Where did all that dirt go?” Now matter now, it’s history)

    Don’t need any comets, airbursts or fantastical imaginary stuff borrowed from the SFX Dept in Hollywood.

    A plough, a paddy (field) and/or *any* sort of high-nitrogen fertiliser (human or animal manure) will do just fine. Overgrazing by sheep and, especially worst of all, goats will also suffice.

    Watch it happening in any river, brook, stream, syke, beck, brook or creek near you – *every* time it rains.
    If the water is running *any* colour (other than clear or translucent grey) – there is your civilisation destruction. In full (haha) flow

    Climate Science is really really very simple – all you need is a pair of eyes and a properly constructed, fed and functioning brain.
    Or, if in North America, you could ask (what’s left of) The Natives.

    • or sometimes when the wind blows.

      They call it “Fen Blow” around these parts – otherwise everyone understands “Dust Bowl”

    • Peta,

      Since you have not been to the site, how can you possibly offer instruction to those who have? If it was a simple matter of over fertilization, how is it that the ground in question, after 600+ years of recovery, has been in continuous production ever since?

      The ground was contaminated with salts, from some source, and was not suitable to sustain habitation in the destroyed cities for over 600 years. There is a gap from the Middle Bronze to Iron 2 ages in every city that has been excavated in the Middle Ghor.

      At Tall el-Hammam in areas within the old city wall that have not been converted to agriculture, the salts will still rise to the top of the ground after a rain. Is that because the ancient inhabitants grew too many crops within the city wall. With poor irrigation practices?

      Perhaps a visit before pontification would be in order.

      PBH

        • Peta,

          This isn’t a wild eyed conjecture. The evidence is pretty overwhelming that the impact occured causing the effects noted whether God threw it at them or not.

          • I have to agree. Peta is concentrating on the agriculture and is missing the other part of the picture. These were thriving towns that simply disappeared. Construction was mud brick on top of stone foundations. The foundation stones are still there but the mud bricks are gone. and to be clear, there is no debris, the entire cities are simply gone, pretty much without trace.

            The only event that could do such a thing is a blast of nuclear proportions. With the agricultural factors the only event that fits the evidence is an airburst.

  9. While the threat of impactors is real and serious, the technology is no more available to prevent or mitigate the threat than to mitigate the threat of climate change.

    • Perhaps it would be more advanced if all those $billions weren’t wasted on the climate change bogeyman.
      As we know, it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when the next big one will hit the Earth.

  10. I don’t trust Russia with ‘anti-meteor’ weapons.

    “the threat of impactors is real and serious”

    I don’t think so. The threat of falling down stairs is real and serious. Impactors are obscure. No one has been killed by one in over a hundred years.

    4.5 billion years of solar system existence has pulled most unaligned junk from the sky. Therefore, the Earth is in the best position it has been in 4.5 billion years. The time to panic is long gone.

    • The Chelyabinsk meteorite indirectly caused injury to 1500 people. Although you’re right, I don’t think anyone was killed.

    • Russia is supposed to have hypersonic space weapons isn’t it so maybe it was a test and it went so fast it went backward in time 🙂

    • Unfortunately that nobody has been killed is just dumb luck. If the Tunguska impactor had arrived 3 hours later we would be able to visit the hole where Moscow used to be. As another has noted, there was a similar airburst in South America in the 1930s. We have no idea how many have occurred over water, but “a fair few” would be a good guess.

      People might want to consider that people in various parts of government may have detected incoming objects but not said anything. Why alarm the public if it’s going to hit the water away from anyone?

      • That’s dumb. It’s not “dumb luck.” It’s that people are spread out. 71% of the earth’s surface has NO PEOPLE AT ALL.

        “If the Tunguska impactor had arrived 3 hours later”

        “If” is doing a lot of work there.

        Is it possible an asteroid the size of Oklahoma could hit the earth? Sure. But you’d be way better off spending your money on putting hand rails on stairways.

  11. As I understand it, the BBC’s Horizon television prog looked into this many years ago (20 ish)& “experts” had identified many crater formation, where after thousands or millions of years, the edge of the crater drops & the base of the crater rises upwards, once tey knew what to look for they found loads of them! At 4.500 billion years old I would expect there to be visible geological signs of such events!!!!

  12. Around 50 years ago Isaac Asimov wrote an essay entitled The Rocks of Damocles, about just this kind of event. It was published in a magazine first, IIRC and then, in the early 70s, in a collection called Asimov on Astronomy. He’d done his sums with whatever stats he had to hand then, and reckoned that a meteorite with “city busting” capability strikes the Earth about once every hundred years, but since cities/populated areas occupy such a small part of the surface of the planet very few of the impacts have resulted in loss of life. . . . I have no idea how accurate his estimate of the odds were.

    • As did O. Scott Card.

      It wasn’t all that long ago (1800s) that the idea of Earth being bombarded by space rocks was essentially unthinkable. Anything that came from the Heavens must have been retribution, gods’ sent. God sent in the monotheistic era, but even before that deity-by-design.

      From what science has come to say about the distribution of NEO (Near Earth Objects) as well as interlopers from the Kuiper and Oört belts, from the subjovian so-called asteroid belt, and the gravitational pinball dynamics that these (relatively) congested belts unendingly provide.

      Just saying,
      GoatGuy

    • Arthur C. Clarke started Rendezvous With Rama with an impact event that took down a major European city (Rome, I think). This led to the formation of a Spaceguard organization that watched for threats to Earth from deep space. From there things get interesting as an extra-solar object is detected hurtling through the solar system (shades of Oumuamua).

  13. Excerpt from 2012 Younger Dryas reprise: Prof. Kennett is by all odds the world expert on this event. As a train of cometary/meteorite impacts, perhaps a grouping of multiple independent objects, this 1,500 year “cold shock” exterminated not only North American mega-fauna but their Clovis Culture human predators as well.

    “Earth’s 1,500-year post-glacial ‘cold shock’ from c. 12,950 – 11,450 YBP (BC 10,950 – 9,450), recorded in Turkey’s Gobekli Tepe carvings as an exo-planetary impact event driving global extinctions of land-based mega-fauna such as Western Hemisphere camels and horses, ground sloths, mastodons, saber-tooth tigers, short-face bears.

    “In 2012, a years-long global research project under Emeritus Prof. James P. Kennett (UC Santa Barbara) deduced that the Younger Dryas chill-phase ended North America’s big-game hunting Clovis Culture amid massive human die-offs.”

    • Such airburst or cosmic impacts are far more dangerous than a few degrees of warming (that restore use to earth’s and civilizations most productive periods). e.g. WUWT 2012
      New evidence of Younger Dryas Extraterrestrial Impact
      Recent 2018 paper:
      Wolbach, W.S., Ballard, J.P., Mayewski, P.A., Adedeji, V., Bunch, T.E., Firestone, R.B., French, T.A., Howard, G.A., Israde-Alcántara, I., Johnson, J.R. and Kimbel, D., 2018. Extraordinary biomass-burning episode and impact winter triggered by the Younger Dryas cosmic impact∼ 12,800 years ago. 1. Ice cores and glaciers. The Journal of Geology, 126(2), pp.165-184.
      Abstract

      The Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) cosmic-impact hypothesis is based on considerable evidence that Earth collided with fragments of a disintegrating ≥100-km-diameter comet, the remnants of which persist within the inner solar system ∼12,800 y later. Evidence suggests that the YDB cosmic impact triggered an “impact winter” and the subsequent Younger Dryas (YD) climate episode, biomass burning, late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions, and human cultural shifts and population declines. The cosmic impact deposited anomalously high concentrations of platinum over much of the Northern Hemisphere, as recorded at 26 YDB sites at the YD onset, including the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core, in which platinum deposition spans ∼21 y (∼12,836–12,815 cal BP). The YD onset also exhibits increased dust concentrations, synchronous with the onset of a remarkably high peak in ammonium, a biomass-burning aerosol. In four ice-core sequences from Greenland, Antarctica, and Russia, similar anomalous peaks in other combustion aerosols occur, including nitrate, oxalate, acetate, and formate, reflecting one of the largest biomass-burning episodes in more than 120,000 y. In support of widespread wildfires, the perturbations in CO2 records from Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, suggest that biomass burning at the YD onset may have consumed ∼10 million km2, or ∼9% of Earth’s terrestrial biomass. The ice record is consistent with YDB impact theory that extensive impact-related biomass burning triggered the abrupt onset of an impact winter, which led, through climatic feedbacks, to the anomalous YD climate episode.

      • 2nd paper on new evidence of Younger Dryas Extraterrestrial Impact
        Wolbach, W.S., Ballard, J.P., Mayewski, P.A., Parnell, A.C., Cahill, N., Adedeji, V., Bunch, T.E., Domínguez-Vázquez, G., Erlandson, J.M., Firestone, R.B. and French, T.A., 2018. Extraordinary biomass-burning episode and impact winter triggered by the Younger Dryas cosmic impact∼ 12,800 years ago. 2. Lake, marine, and terrestrial sediments. The Journal of Geology, 126(2), pp.185-205. https://bit.ly/2EcnOfP

        Abstract
        Part 1 of this study investigated evidence of biomass burning in global ice records, and here we continue to test the hypothesis that an impact event at the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) caused an anomalously intense episode of biomass burning at ∼12.8 ka on a multicontinental scale (North and South America, Europe, and Asia). Quantitative analyses of charcoal and soot records from 152 lakes, marine cores, and terrestrial sequences reveal a major peak in biomass burning at the Younger Dryas (YD) onset that appears to be the highest during the latest Quaternary. For the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (K-Pg) impact event, concentrations of soot were previously utilized to estimate the global amount of biomass burned, and similar measurements suggest that wildfires at the YD onset rapidly consumed ∼10 million km2 of Earth’s surface, or ∼9% of Earth’s biomass, considerably more than for the K-Pg impact. Bayesian analyses and age regressions demonstrate that ages for YDB peaks in charcoal and soot across four continents are synchronous with the ages of an abundance peak in platinum in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core and of the YDB impact event (12,835–12,735 cal BP). Thus, existing evidence indicates that the YDB impact event caused an anomalously large episode of biomass burning, resulting in extensive atmospheric soot/dust loading that triggered an “impact winter.” This, in turn, triggered abrupt YD cooling and other climate changes, reinforced by climatic feedback mechanisms, including Arctic sea ice expansion, rerouting of North American continental runoff, and subsequent ocean circulation changes.

  14. Iv’a feeling an atmospheric burst is going to wipe out alot of it, alot sooner than another 3700 years

    • Too bad about all the people that would die, huh? And you are wrong anyways; the location will never lose it’s historical, cultural, and religious significance as long as there are still people alive that remember.

  15. Interesting: Do you know why diamonds were so revered way back when? It was a stone cutter dream. I believe I read an article that an impact could melt minerals together which would make them almost as hard as diamonds. There are granite artifacts from the graves that that either match or exceed today’s polishing technique.

  16. I know the very reference to Sodom brings a lot of baggage. There is, however, a great deal of real science which has has some affinities to the the ascribed event. Dr. Stephen Collins and his team have been excavating in the Jordan Valley for over ten years, focusing on the largest site there. It is named Tall el Hammam. This city was continuously occupied from the chalcolithic period to the end of the middle bronze age around 1700 bce. The evidence is very strong the 3.7KYrBP Event (the official name, I guess) destroyed the eastern Jordan Valley civilization. The land was fertile at that time, but did not recover for 500-600 years. Tall el Hammam was violently destroyed at this same time, remained so for that time period. This is real science. And yes, it does exhibit a fit for a possible biblical scenario. I won’t go into social, religious, ethical aspects in this forum. If you are interested go to tallelhammam.com. Honestly, it is a real science archaeological dig with really fascinating discoveries.

    • Partly people have it arse about. They think that finding the archaeological evidence confirms the Bible and they don’t want that as it might give power to the fundies. The truth is that it’s the reverse, the Biblical story is to explain the event after the fact.

      They forget that the OT was written nearly 2,000 years after the event and prior versions were word of mouth. The Bible is a pretty straight forward description of the event, with a morality portion probably added in later. Most stories had a moral component, so the Lot bit would fit. “The cities were evil and had to be destroyed, Lot did as he was told and survived”. Moral= “Do as your leaders tell you.”

      What I do find surprising is the resistance to the idea that cataclysmic events would be recorded in very old texts.

      And I agree, tallelhamman.com is really worth the read to understand the scale of the destruction.

      • JohnB, I agree that is correct in many cases. Tall el Hammam is more of a puzzle. The details of the excavation fits the MBA almost exclusively. There are specific details of the TeM excavation that tends to strongly suggest the Genesis account was not a morality tale concocted centuries after the city was buried. Genesis 10 as Sodom being built as a walled city ca 3000 bce. The MBA terminal phase exhibited affinities with the contemporaneous Minoan culture including religious and social practices that happen to be alluded to in the text. These details would not be likely guesses centuries after the fact.

  17. Well according to the Bible Chronology the destruction of Sedom an Gomorrah was 3800-3900 years ago. Abraham who witnessed the destruction lived 400 years before the Exodus from Egypt of the Israelite’s that took place 1446 B.CE. As the 1:st Book of Kings says the exodus took place 480 years before the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 966 B.CE.

  18. Here’s an example of the power involved. Recently (15 Feb. 2013) a fireball at 97 km altitude travelling at at least 19 km/sec was above the city of Cheltabinsk.

    A shock wave started generating at 90 km altitude. At ground level the force was the equivalent if 520 kT.

    Meteoride fragments were still in the atmosphere as low as 27 km altitude. Detonations were happening between 34-27 km altitude & , despite no meteoride fragments, again between 24 – 19 km altitude. Peak radiation occurred at anywhere from 29.7 to 30.4 km altitude & was still moving at over 18 km/sec.

    I think influences from this event would be as if covered a radius of 120 km diameter. Local conditions (ex: wind & topography) made the effects not symetrical.

  19. “3,700 years ago”

    Just about the same time that the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

    … the Middle Bronze Age is perhaps the most prosperous in the whole history of Kna’an. … The defenses … belong to a fairly advanced date in that period” and there was “a massive stone revetment … part of a complex system” of defenses.[35] Bronze Age Jericho fell in the 16th century at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the calibrated carbon remains from its City-IV destruction layer dating to 1617–1530 BCE. Notably this carbon dating c. 1573 BCE confirmed the accuracy of the stratigraphical dating c. 1550 by Kenyon.

    So roughly 1600 BC + 2000 = 3600 ya which is pretty darned close. About the same time as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, too.

        • Yes to early for Biblical Jericho Layer. Jericho was destroyed about 1400 B.CE. by the Army of Joshua. the Gommorrah event was 400 years earlier. Unless you have Carbon-14 dated some biological remains such as a bone-fragment, you end up dating things by some Egyptian Scarabs or Minoan pottery that is found. That type of dating is even more uncertain as the still undetermined lenght of the third Egyptian intermediate period after the 20:th dynastiy , adds or removes 200 years or so.

          • The last numbers I saw on radiocarbon was 1750-1650 bce. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of sample material, but funding for the dating. Remains in the blast layer appear to be plentiful. Imagine the scene you would expect to see after such an event. That is exactly what is there. The website has substantial pictures though it doesn’t emphasize human remains.

    • There is a candidate (Bab ehd Dhra) for the biblical Sodom that was destroyed about this time (2350bce), but the details of the demise don’t seem to fit the “cosmic” destruction scenario. It also seems too early for the description of the Genesis event.

      • jonb,

        Numeira has also been posited as a candidate, but it too was abandoned in the Early Bronze like it’s neighbor Bab end Dhra. Both of them appear to have lost their primary water source which would suggest earthquake rather than meteoric airburst.

        PBH

  20. Anhydride salts are not simply “a mix of salt and suphates”. First the chloride salts, which would make up most of it are naturally without a water molecule or two. Anhydride salts refer to the alkali and alkaline earth sulphates that are of the anhydrous varieties. They all have hydrous equivalents (ie: they have one to several H2O molecules attached as part of their composition). The most common natural sulphate is gypsum CaSO4.2H2O and a natural anhydrous mineral CaSO4 without the two water molecules is actually named “anhydrite”. Professionals who carelessly throw incorrect technical terminology around, even if they are mere archeologists or astronomers only degrade themselves.

  21. Not too long after this event the Thera eruptions took place, I often thought the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah might have been linked to that instead. It almost makes you wonder if the two events are somehow connected.

  22. This blog is one of the few places I hope to find actual, intelligent, fact-based, well-reasoned scientific discussion. This thread tempers my optimism. We have some real scientific evidence here and a hypothesis on the table. I am dismayed to hear commenters act as if that evidence were more or less likely to be true based on the name we choose to use for the site (“Sodom”).

    Let’s leave the Bible story out of this, for our first pass. Either there is good evidence that a Tunguska-like event occurred over the north end of the Dead Sea 3700 years or there isn’t. So far, it seems like a good explanation for the observed data.

    Assuming (as I do) that a Middle Bronze Age city (and surrounding civilization) were wiped out by a cosmic airburst, and the farmlands around were then rendered uninhabitable for centuries, we can then adjust our other concepts in light of new data.

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