3,600 Years Ago
[Some resources on the idea that Indus Valley Civilzation ended as part of a global catastrophe-DD]
The Canaanites earliest real presence was 1550 BC (Source: The Canaanites by John Grey)
According to the World Book Encyclopedia:
- An unknown civilization with an alphabet that has yet to be deciphered lived in the Indus Valley (W. Pakistan). Around 1500 BC they disappeared.
- Around 1500 BC a civilization arose on the banks of the Hwang Ho river in north central China.
- The 1st dynasty of Babylon ended in 1595 BC.
- In the Semitic culture, Hyksos was deposed in 1570 BC, and the Jewish exodus led by Moses happened shortly thereafter. This featured a river Nile filled with “blood” and water they could not drink.
- The Cycladic settlement on the island of Thera was destroyed by a great volcanic eruption about 1500 BC.
- Hittite internal strife caused great disorder and ended in 1525 BC with King Telipinu.
- China gave birth to one of the earliest civilizations and has a recorded history that dates from some 3,500 years ago.
- Pottery pieces found in Fiji suggest the islands were settled in the west from Melanesia at least 3,500 years ago.
- Iron manufacturing (by the Hitties) originated about 3,500 years ago when iron ore was accidentally heated in the presence of charcoal.
- The Tongon and Samoan islands were probably settled from Fiji about 3,500 years ago.
- There was total catastrophe all over Crete about 1400 BC
- The Santorini eruption (about 1500 BC) was several times greater in scope than the 1883 Krakatoa eruption.
the Megalithic culture of Europe collapsed and there were mass movements of refugees into the Mediterranean. Construction at Stonehenge ended and it was abandoned.
In Lost Cities of Africa by Basil Davidson, King Shamba Blongongo abolished a standing army and knife throwing in 1600 BC.
According to Earth in Upheaval by Velikovsky
- Research by W. A. Johnston of the Niagara River bed disclosed that the present channel was cut by the falls less than 4000 years ago. Careful study of the Bear River delta by Hanson showed the age of this delta was 3,600 years.
- A study by Claude Jones of the Great Lakes showed that these lakes have existed only 3,500 years. This is confirmed by several geographic historical maps of Michigan available in Michigan libraries. Gales obtained the same result on Owen Lake in California. Van Winkle obtained the same result on Abert and Summer lakes in Oregon.
- Radiocarbon analysis by Libby also indicates that plants associated with mastodons in Mexico are probably only 3,500 years old. Similar conclusions concerning the late survival of the Pleistocene fauna were drawn by various field workers in many parts of the American continent.
- From observations on beaches throughout the world, Daly concluded that there was a change in the ocean level, which dropped sixteen to twenty feet 3,500 years ago. Kuenen and others confirmed Daly’s findings with evidence derived from Europe.
Volcanoes, Catastrophe and the Global Crisis of the Late Second Millennium BC
I suggested that around this time there occurred one of the most fundamental breaks in the whole prehistory of these islands. What came after, in the early First Millennium, bore no resemblance to what had gone before in the Second. I have encountered nothing since 1979 to shake my belief in the concept of a late Second Millennium catastrophe. On the contrary, the evidence for crisis has continued to accumulate. In 1985 I “My first attempt to introduce archaeologists to volcanoes drew mirth developed the theme, adding a collapse of population to the general breakdown of systems already postulated (BAR 143).
It was only subsequently that I began to come across papers on the “volcano effect”, which seemed to support this thesis. My first attempt to introduce archaeologists to volcanoes at the 1987 Newcastle Later Bronze Age conference drew a mixture of mirth and non-comprehension, so I am delighted that reputable scientists such as Mike Baillie are now publishing so extensively on these catastrophic events; for archaeologists are wont to pay attention to scientists.
The time has come to draw together evidence from the whole of Europe, and indeed the Mediterranean lands, for this breakdown in the late Second Millennium. In doing so, one is keenly aware of the ”A global environmental deterioration set in the 13th century” in danger of ‘sucking in’ dates for unrelated phenomena arrived at by different methods, to create a false horizon (Baillie, Endeavour 13, 1989, 81).
The breakdown of the existing order in the East Mediterranean c.1250-1150 BC has long been a familiar concept. The Aegean world, Mycenae, the Hittite empire, and the great Late Bronze Age cities of Cyprus and Syria, all came to an inglorious end, and even Egypt was so exhausted by the struggle as to be finished as a world power.
A cyclical global environmental deterioration seems to have set in in the 13th century (see Bryson in Antiquity, 98, 1974). In some areas the problem was too much moisture, while in others it was drought and desiccation. In the Near East the Egyptian pharaohs (Seti I, Ramesses II) had to sink wells deeper and deeper to keep Nubian caravan routes open, and had to open their borders to drought stricken bedouin; and eventually Merneptah and Ramesses III had to fight to keep desperate Libyans out of the Delta in the late 13th and early 12th centuries.
These problems are dealt with fully in Nancy Sandars’ admirable Sea Peoples. “Peoples of the Sea” became an increasing problem in the late 13th century, coming, Sandars has persuasively argued, from the Anatolian littoral. Merneptah had to dispatch large shipments of grain to Anatolia to relieve famine, while the archives of Ugarit around 1200 BC confirm that a terrible famine was raging in Hittite lands, and even Cyprus was appealing for food relief. The famine appears to have been so widespread and severe in Anatolia that memory of it lasted for centuries afterwards, eventually to be commented on by Greek writers such as Herodotus.
It is clear, then that the late Second Millennium climatic downturn had already started in the Mediterranean by the early 13th century. In this case Baillie’s volcanic ‘event’ of the 1150s and 1140s will have had an exacerbating effect.
What happened in Britain in the late Second Millennium? In the Independent for 16.8.88, David Keys suggested that ‘Most of northern Britain appears to have been rendered uninhabitable by a catastrophe resembling the “nuclear winter” that some scientists believe would follow a nuclear war’. While comparison to a nuclear winter and population losses over 90% in north Britain may be judged over-dramatic, there was undeniably a remarkable contraction of settlement and agriculture throughout Britain and Ireland after 1200 BC.
At the opening of the conventional Late Bronze Age in Britain, in the 10th century BC, signs of this shrunken scale of activity and settlement are still everywhere. There are still extensive tracts of the country for which there is little or no settlement evidence between the 12th and 8th centuries BC, for example the whole of the North between the Tees and the approaches to Edinburgh, and much of Wales. Perhaps the most telling signs of this slump are those Late Bronze Age settlements – of new forms – such as the Mucking ringworks (BAR, 83) which overlie abandoned Second Millennium field systems, on lands which previously had been intensively farmed and settled.
The settlement abandonment and population loss will have been greatest on the marginal lands, but many more favourable areas, such as the chalk and the Fen Edge, did not escape. I have argued that there is some evidence of a flight of population and settlement to river margins. This is reflected in the Thames Valley by the appearance of riverside and island settlements such as Runnymede (there are none pre-1200 BC).
Clearly this was a crisis which affected lowland and upland, if not so severely in the case of the former. But recovery had to come. The demographic curve following the 14th century AD population collapse typically shows a centuries-long trough followed by a sudden upswing; a population in such circumstances may multiply severalfold in a century. Exactly this seems to have happened in the Iron Age Aegean, where the demographic surge in the late 9th and 8th centuries was such, according to the Greek writers, as to prompt the colonisations which began in the 8th century.
A similar curve seems to be indicated for Britain, with the period from the 12th-8th centuries (most of the “later” and Late Bronze in effect) a time of shrunken population and settlement, with recovery coming only at the end of the period. Throughout Britain settlements of the 8th-7th centuries seem much more numerous than in the preceding few centuries. Everywhere settlement appears again on lands for which there is little or no Late Bronze Age evidence, from Fengate (BAR 83) to the Cornish Moors (Arch J 1957).
The most impressive sign of this population rise is the reappearance of settlements, in the form of ringditch house farmsteads and stockades, in the archaeological record of the uplands of north Britain; vast tracts which appear to all intents and purposes empty of human activity between the 12th and 7th centuries BC. (Burgess, 1984). Two major problems hinder an objective review of settlement and demography in the 13th-llth centuries: firstly the general assumption that as the Bronze Age progressed so everything got bigger and better. There is no room for blips and reverses in such attitudes. Secondly there is the present dislike of simple explanations.
Catastrophist theories are widely held to be too black and white. Considering how difficult it has been to persuade colleagues of a general contraction of settlement and population in Britain, which has the most thoroughly explored and complete Bronze Age settlement sequence in Europe, it is going to be no easy matter to make the point for other regions, especially those, such as most of Atlantic Europe, where the settlement record is patchy at best. But the pointers to 12th century problems can be found in many parts of Europe.
Firstly, France: considerable areas of the west show a slump in 12th-llth century axe numbers similar to that observed in Britain, though the settlement record in these areas of France is too fragmentary to help much.
In Spain, especially the thoroughly searched south, the evidence for crisis seems clear at first glance. There is an obvious rupture with the end of the Argaric culture (and neighbouring equivalents), so rich in its evidence for every aspect of life. The contrast with what came next is startling. “What did come next?” is a more appropriate response.
Many Argaric sites ended in violent conflagration; in very few cases is there any occupation immediately after the Argaric. Most sites were abandoned, and if reoccupation came at all it was only after an interval of unknown duration, and is then “Late Bronze Age”. An end of the Argaric at c.1200 BC would fit perfectly with the catastrophe hypothesis advanced here. Unfortunately, it simply will not do.
Some Spanish writers have realised that this is much too late (cf, for example, Almagro Gorbea, 1986, chronological table; here the Argaric is followed by a Bronce Tardio filling the centuries c.1500-1200 BC). To the outside observer the Argaric has all the appearance of an Early Bronze Age phenomenon, a southern Spanish equivalent of the Wessex Culture or “Les tumulus d’Armorique”, complete even with faience beads and dagger graves. This would assign it to the first half of the Second Millennium BC.
If we reject the vague parallels with Aegean material on which the traditional end-date depends, there is nothing in the Argaric which would prolong it beyond 1500 BC. This becomes ever clearer as more and more C14 dates for the Iberian Bronze Age come to hand. The large number of C14 dates now published from the deeply stratified site of Fuente Alamo (which does have occupation following the Argaric) seems to put the matter beyond dispute: eighteen dates range from c.2020-1340BC.
Explosive news from Medieval London – mass graves and the largest volcanic eruption of the last Millennium.Italy
In Italy the evidence is variable. In Italy before the Romans (ed Ridgway and Ridgway, 1979) Peroni pointed to a widespread, often sudden and violent disruption in settlement development between the Recent and Final Bronze Ages, ie c.12th century BC. The terremare in particular come to an abrupt and dramatic end, and the great plains of the Middle Po then seem to have been abandoned until the Iron Age.
On the other hand there may have been a flight to peripheral areas, especially northwards. The Lake settlements of the north were also given up about this time, though whether as suddenly and dramatically is less clear. Over the north as a whole there seem to have been far fewer settlements after this period of disruption than before (Peroni, ibid). In central Italy the evidence at present appears more ambiguous: in the southcentre as many sites remained in occupation as were abandoned (Peroni, ibid).
In Etruria, however, almost total discontinuity between Bronze and Iron Age settlement has been claimed (cf Delpino, 1979, 39), yet the current view is that population continued to rise into the Iron Age In the south the evidence is again
patchy. Some Apulian sites were abandoned (La Geniere, 1979), but others apparently remained in occupation into the Iron Age.
On the other hand it is clear that throughout the south Iron Age settlements and cemeteries occupy new sites, without Bronze Age precursors, and that there must have been some sort of late Second Millennium dislocation.
The aim of these notes is to persuade colleagues to examine, dispassionately, the settlement records of their own regions. Clearly dislocation, hiatus, rupture, cesure – all these terms have been used – occurred in many parts of the Old World in the late Second Millennium BC. In some regions this took the form of a collapse of settlement and population. Was this a Pan-European disaster, in population terms akin to those of the 6th and 14th centuries AD, and in cultural and political terms on a par with the disasters which overtook Europe in the 4th-6th centuries AD?
This map of the age unfortunately shows neither Minoan Crete nor the Indus Valley civilisations
|A comet was reportedly seen during the Trojan War and said to indicate the Fall of Troy|
Is Homer's Troy in 1200 B.C. the right War ?Modern scholarly opinion states that the war we have described in Homer's Iliad actually took place in the first quarter of the 12th c. B.C. (1175 - 2000 counting down) and Troy finally fall near 1184 which is the later Greeks' traditional date. Over the last century we have accumulated a large body of archaeological and historical information about what was happening at the East end of the Mediterranean world, and at this time. There seems to be a growing interest in Homer and Troy and that curious East-looking face of what we used to think of as the pure Hellenic fount of Western Civilization, and now we should be prepared to revise some of the old notions which were fossilized in our schoolbooks since the times of Schliemann. Troy and Mycenae and Pylos and the great cities of the East down to Egypt were all part of a warring and trading world, which was fairly complex, as seen in the early Greek Linear B product lists on the world market, dating from the late 2nd millennium B.C.
It now seems fairly clear that some major Catastrophe occurred around 1200 B.C., which the historian Robert Drews ("The End of the Bronze Age ": changes in warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C., Princeton l995) notes as having happened simultaneously to all the major cities of the East down to Egypt, where records point to the mysterious appearance of sea-warriors who were devastating the coast. Drews cannot identify these invaders from the sea exactly, but his evidence points to the unexpected appearance of terrorists who probably destroyed the operation of the large armies of chariot warfare with as simple a solution as foot soldiers killing the horses with the long spear. These men may have come from Malta, or further West or even from the North sailing down the Atlantic coast, since we know there was a lively kassiterite trade supplying tin for the alloying of copper from Cyprus into castable bronze.The evidence points to the sacking of the cities in a close time-frame, looting and leaving the cities bare and unable to rebuild for a considerable period and in the case of Troy, for several centuries. Drews was right in calling this a "Catastrophe", and considering the unexpected nature of this happening which left no traces of its perpetrators, I think we can assign it to a wave of as yet unidentified "Terrorists".
But this does not fit the Homeric account of the Trojan War, which shows two well matched opposing armies which struggled on the plain before the walled city of Ilion, using similar techniques of warfare and weaponry until after a ten year siege, a well planned and executed device breached the walls . This does not fit the sudden stage of Drews' well documented Catastrophe, it is a traditional warfare done in a traditional manner. Considering the placement of Troy in the trade-paths to the Euxine Sea and down the Levantine Coast, the Greeks' reasons for the war were probably economically conceived.
Homer's account of the war does not point to looting of everything valuable and total destruction of the city so that it would never rise again, in the manner of Rome's handling of the final defeat of Carthage. In the final interview of Achilles by Priam, we see a city largely intact, there is no program of genocide or arson, but a presumable shift of power from the Illuwian administration to the foreign powers which were expanding eastwards into the well developed commerce of a 2nd Millennium East-Mediterranean world.
This does not match the pattern of a the world hit everywhere and simultaneously by a Catastrophe caused by unknown forces which cause terror and destruction worldwide. After their work is done, the Invaders disappear from the pages of history while some of the cities which were affected will slowly rebuild or in some cases like Troy, lie dormant for ages. How do we match the world of the Catastrophe with the world in which two conventional armies fought the traditional and protracted war at Troy?
We knew long ago, since the time of Schliemann's excavations, that there were as many as five levels of destruction and rebuilding at Troy, which could be assigned to dates from 1200 - 1800 B.C. I suggest that since Homer's Trojan War does not fit the conditions of the Catastrophe of 1200 B.C, that it refers back to a much earlier "Ilion" standing somewhere earlier in the time frame of the Bronze Age. We have always thought that Homer has elements of a tradition going deep into the Bronze age past, not only the copper-based weaponry but also some of the art and religious threads which point to great antiquity. Our conventional approach to the time between 8th century Homer and an ancient Troy has been that a three century gap could be bridged by folk memory and the traditions of an oral poetry. But if the web of memory can extend back into the past for three or four centuries, it can equally well reach back five or seven centuries, to a time when expanding Greeks were feeling the pinch of Ilion on their commerce.
We have blurred the lines of history in our older textbooks with a foolish idea that the Homeric Greeks were representative of our "West", fighting against a Near Eastern world of foreign people with foreign values. Once we start looking at Homer's world as part of a intertwined cross-cultural complex, we can expect to find unsuspected traits even in words and names. The Greek leader Agamemnon has a strangely Eastern name, which is compounded from the Greek prefix "aga-" meaning "very, highly" ( as aga-kleEs, as 'very glorious') with the telling name -memnon. Mythologically, Memnon was the son of Eos, the Dawn goddess and this of course point to the East. Furthermore a giant statue of Amenophis near Thebes in Egypt from the 18th Dynasty was thought to be a figure of the same Memnon. Trojan Prince Alexandros' name appears in ancient Hittite documents, the other side of the name-identification process, and I suspect word-analysis may give us unsuspected clues in this direction. Names often show national traits even after centuries of lost identity, witness dozens of Norman French names absorbed into the families of British aristocracy and regarded as British some ten centuries since the Invasion.
To summarize: The Near Eastern general "Catastrophe" of the world of 1200 B.C does not fit well with Homer's Trojan War, which was a traditional two-nation struggle for position in the trade route between West and East, and not the kind of "slash-and-burn" terrorist style attack on the cities of the East which Drews' carefully prepared study on "changes in warfare" describes. I therefore suggest that we consider referring the Homeric War back to an earlier position in the 2nd Millennium. . and see if it offer a good historical match with materials which we can document from the records of the Hittite, Assyrian and Egyptian chronologies. If as we have always thought, Homer's memory can hypothetically stretch back three centuries to 1200 B.C. , it can also reach back a few centuries more. Further research will show if that can be supported and substantiated by cross referencing to the abundant surviving materials from other facets of the Near Eastern Empires. If this seems to fly in the face of established Classical tradition, we should remember that the worst kind of scholarship is produced by cleaving to a tradition on the basis of familiarity, while ignoring possibilities which lie in another direction. The art of History is less a summarizing of Facts than a matter of Interpretation, and as such it must be continually re-examined and in some case eventually revised.
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
Franz Xavier Kugler (1862-1929), a Jesuit priest who devoted much of his life to the study of cuneiform astronomical texts, ultimately reached the conclusion that most of these ancient tablets reflected actual observations and were not, as many other philologists had adduced, nonsensical. Two years before his death, Kugler published a book entitled "Sybillinischer Sternkampfund Phaethon in naturgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung" (The Sybilline Battle of the Stars and Phaethon Seen as Natural History). This work was one of a series entitled "Zeitgemassige Beitrage" (Essays of Current Interest). Obviously Kugler felt his effort would affect contemporary society by shedding new light on past cultures (this illumination was, of course, immediately reflected to the outer limits by the polished surface of the gradualist paradigm). The Jesuit order is renowned for meticulous scholarship. Kugler was not jumping completely outside the then dominant research framework; he called this agent of destruction a sunlike-meteor that was for some reason associated with the planet Venus. He placed this event around 1500 B.C. The fact that Kugler chose the term sunlike-meteor rather than comet is indicative of his desire to remain within bounds. Many early historians had attributed widespread floods and conflagrations to a huge comet (Typhon). Recall that in 1927 comets were held to be innocuous "flying sandbanks"; however, the theory that Coon Mountain (Meteor Crater) in Arizona had been formed by a nickel/iron meteoroid was gaining acceptance rapidly. [For a general review of Kugler's work see "Astronomical Theory and Historical Data" (Part Two) by L.C. Stecchini in The Velikovsky Affair (1966).]
Some scholars who delved into ancient astro-myths were less concerned with conventional research boundaries. Immanual Velikovsky is by far the best known example of radical departure. Velikovsky was an diligent researcher (his work is still valuable in this respect), but he made one major error in his underlying premise. He assumed continuity of nouns or more precisely he thought philologists had correctly identified the various ancient names for planets. Where Kugler (whose various works are referenced by Velikovsky) saw a sunlike-meteor in association with Venus, Velikovsky saw "Comet Venus." Both researchers fell victim to what this author calls the"bibbu boo-boo." There is considerable reason to suspect that the majority of our planet's namesakes were comets--probably of the Encke family.
[Thus far three large objects are identified with this family: Comet Encke itself and the asteroids Hephestos and 1982 TA. We may find more. All of these would have been visually impressive several thousand years ago as they all would have been comets. Many researchers now believe that most Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids are remnants of comets; the distinction between such objects is not as firm as it once was. Comet Encke's coma is fast waning--in fifty years it may be asteroid Encke.]
For instance, we can read from W.M. O'Neil (1975):
"The word planet comes from the Greek planetes, the wanderers; these seven celestial bodies moved among the fixed stars. The Babylonians had a more picturesque name bibbu, the wild sheep, as these bodies broke through the fixed formation in which the tame sheep crossed the sky."To call into question Greek continuity of planet identity we can refer to A.B.Cook (1914):
"Aristotle in his work On the Universe draws up a list, which gives both the earlier and the later names arranged in the Greek order:
Planet Earlier Name Later Name
Saturn Phainon (the 'Shining') Kronos.
Iupiter Phaethon (the 'Brilliant') Zeus.
Mars Pyroeis (the 'Fiery') Herakles or Ares.
Mercury Stilbon (the 'Gleaming') Hermes or Apollon.
Venus Phosphoros (the 'Light-bringer') Aphrodite or Hera."[Cook spent over forty years studying Zeus. His work Zeus is a gold mine of data on beliefs and customs associated with this sky god.]
The earlier names are rather flamboyant for planets, Are they not? The mythology associated with the later names and the earlier name for Zeus certainly describes the break-up of a comet with an orbit that crossed Earth's better than the monotonous behavior of planets. As for the bibbus, we go to J. K. Bjorkman (1973):
"We move now to a discussion of a word which probably refers to comets, bibbu. As the material in CAD B 217a to 219 makes clear, bibbu has a variety of astromantic and non-astromantic meanings. There is a lengthy omen text, the 56th tablet of Enuma Anu Enlil, which deals with various features of the bibbu, and some of these seem to describe comets. For example:
(Largement 1957, 239 line 12b) If a bibbu continues one day, two days in the sky and does not disappear: (CAD B 218b) If three or four bibbus rise one after the other at sunrise
The latter text might refer to a comet which has broken up into three or four comets under the stress of the sun's gravitational pull; however, this is an unusual occurrence. There are many more references to bibbu, but in them the translations "unspecified planet" or "meteor" could be proposed with equal or greater logic than "comet." "These cuneiform tablets which Kugler so diligently studied may yet be our clearest window to an obscure past. They are unearthed documents--not handed down tales. Bjorkman's article is illustrative of the potential for research in this area. It also shows well causes for difficulty in understanding these texts. Bjorkman herself states in preface that " . . .without having read parts of Middlehurst and Kuiper (1963) [The Moon, Meteorites and Comets], I would not have adequately understood the ancient description of a comet as a star with a tail and a beak."
Some enticing lines given by her are:
If a fireball (coming from) a planet is seen:
If a fireball (coming from) Mars is seen:
If a fireball (coming from) the Old-Man star is seen:
If a fireball moves across the Wagon-Star and stands
(if Venus) rises very high and constantly has a red glow,
(explanation) constantly (SAG.US = kunnu) a red fireball moves across,
variant: at its zenith(?) it is altogether red-huedSallummu is a key word in these lines. Bjorkman believes fireball or meteor is indicated by this term. Mishu or meshu is another astronomical word which Bjorkman renders as meteor and/or train of such. It seems likely to this investigator that the term could also be applied to a bright comet tail. The word has also been rendered as aufleuchten (flash or flaring) and as glow. Comments from later scribes often appear within copies of older texts--ostensibly for clarification. The following lines used by Bjorkman to illustrate the use of mishu contain considerable commentary--perhaps this scribe was having trouble interpreting the older text being copied. The reader should note how easily premise alters meaning when interpreting ancient works. Were these lines inspired by meteors or comets?
TEXT: [If] in the sky a meteor (mishu) which (is) like a . . .rises heliacally(?), (and) its train (mishu) appears in the east: famine will be in the land;
COM: its copy: . . . = husu, it twinkles like husu.
TEXT: If in the sky a meteor (train) from a planet (Mustabarrumutanu) appears: destruction of cattle will occur in the land.
COM: sallummu = mesih of a star, the same is the zimu of a star. A planet (Mustabarrumutanu) is shining brightly.
TEXT: [If] in the sky a meteor train which is like the meteor train from the Nasru-star, = from the KUR.MUSEN-star, appears from east to west: famine will be in the land.
COM: This means: the Nasru-star produced (a meteor train) from the top; these look alike to him.
TEXT: If in the sky a meteor train occurs from east to west (and) north to south (and) stands out (?) like a cross: the king of that land will die, and famine will seize (it).
COM: (This means) two stars flashed.In terms of the present discussion, the last line of text is most interesting. Could it not be read: If in the sky a comet tail appears from east to west and north to south and stands out like a cross? We know from modern observation that comets can produce jets of gas which radiate outward. We have learned from a 2,500 year old Chinese comet atlas that records of a comet appearing as a cross on more than one occasion were in existence. Furthermore, sky borne crosses begin to appear in the art of a variety of cultures (including the one which produced the above text) all over the world at least 5000 years ago. And lastly, the lines quoted above are taken from an omen text devoted to Ishtar (generally labeled as Venus) which has for one of its symbols a four pointed cross within a circle.
The cross, however, is only one aspect of a rotating, jetting comet. Such an object can appear to be quite a different animal when viewed from another angle. To appear as a cross the comet's rotational axis must be closely aligned with the observers line of sight. The Sun's "wind" will also play a part, making the cross less or more symmetrical depending upon how closely Earth, Sun and comet are aligned with one another. Naturally, a short period comet will be observed more often away from such optimum conditions. It is in these aspects that we may find the origin of the many bazaar creatures and things our ancestors depicted as gods. Viewed perpendicular to spin, a jetting comet could appear as a bird, a fly, a four-legged animal, a horned animal's head, a fish, etc. What came to the viewer's mind would depend largely on how the object was oriented with respect to the horizon. If we add to this the likelihood that the main comet had a host of lesser offspring clustered about, the variations of form become almost endless. Also, a comet is not obligated to produce a certain number of jets; though shape of nucleus may predispose it to a certain number of flares, the number of appendages could vary from none to too many to discern. Though the drawings provided are fanciful, they serve to illustrate the point.
Another ubiquitous and enigmatic symbol our ancestors left for us to ponder is the concentric circle motif. These drawings, often carved in stone, are probably not renderings of drug enhanced phosphenes, originally they quite likely depicted the night sky as it appeared during a certain period of the year.
[For an overview on the subject of rock art, see "Theory and Practice in the Study of Rock Art" by C.W. Meighan in Messages From The Past (UCLA Inst. of Archaeology. Monograph XX 1981) edited by Meighan. Also, in this volume is a paper ("Two Rock Art Sites in Calaveras County, California" by W. Wilbert) discussing the potential influence of phosphenes on such art.]
Astronomer Fred Whipple calculates that the night time Taurids have been with us for 5,000 years. It now takes Earth about three months (mid-September to mid-December) to traverse this band of debris. The night-time Taurids branch into two radiants. One branch appears to radiate from near the Pleiades star cluster and peaks around November 3 to 5; the other seems to spray from close to the Hyades and is most active from November 10 to 13. 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. Large, vaporizing meteoroids (bolides) in an atmosphere loaded with comet dust will produce unusual visual effects. Refraction, reflection, and possibly secondary emission come into play as a sizable object splashes into an aerosol laden atmosphere compressing molecules of gas against motes of dust in its bow-shock wave until--BOOM--the object vaporizes, illuminating the multiple layers of compression separated gas and debris. From the ground this might look as if a god threw a pebble in the sky-pond.
[There are similar visual phenomena associated with comets which may also be represented in petroglyphs, such as comets with multiple halos or a pronounced spiral. These are distinguishable from the plain concentric circle or spiral carvings in that they have tails and in the way they are placed.]
Quite likely a large sector of the sky would be filled with such phenomena. Though the intensity would vary from year to year our ancestors, no doubt, expected a rather disconcerting light show on an annual basis--perhaps many of them did take drugs in anticipation of the event. Actually, an appeal of phosphene hypothesis is that such geometric visions occur naturally due to rubbing the eyes, light deprivation, etc. The rationale is that primitive people would notice these visions more readily than we moderns with our artificial lights and CRTs and that they would attach great significance to such apparitions. This type of gradualist reasoning demonstrates flaws common to much conjecture on our past; such speculation ignores the potential influence of exceptional events. For instance, why would a people who had for thousands of years, produced beautifully detailed scenes of the natural world switch rather suddenly all over the globe to "abstract designs" and drawings of warfare? This recognized alteration seems to coincide with the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. The change of climate is commonly given as sufficient reason for this alteration of art. Later, between 7,000 and 5,000 years ago, spirals and concentric circles begin to appear. Again this seems to have been a global phenomena. Did everybody suddenly notice phosphenes? Maybe there was a neolithic Tim Leary . . . Much the same can be said of conjecture regarding "solstice festivals"--would our ancestors actually fear that the Sun would not return? How many thousands of years had it been observed to do so? Eclipses also are common occurrences--only when the Sun and Moon become darkened at the wrong time do you get jumpy and go after He and Ho.
Discussion C | Home
Global Catastrophes, Dark Ages, Impact Cratering on Earth[Some more resources] http://www.gks.uk.com/geoev/
With the first two links we have corroboratory evidence linking the genesis of chaos with geological evidence here on Earth. I will tie in further dates, such as the global DA of 1,200 BC caused by Venus as it crossed the obit of Earth to begin its journey to its current location (second rock from the sun) at a later date.
Something happened 5,200 (3,200 BC) years ago
The sudden beginning, did something happen in 3,114 BC (5,200 years ago)? Why did the first great civilisations collapse suddenly and at the same time around 2200 BC?.
There are several other very interesting links from this page.
Ancient Crash, Epic Wave
Global catastrophes 2300 BC & 1200 BC
A bit more here
Collapse of the Old Kingdom Approx 2,200 BC The ‘First Dark Age,’
Meteor clue to end of Middle East civilisations
CCNet SPECIAL: COLLAPSE OF EARLY BRONZE AGE CIVILISATIONS: HAS THE SMOKING GUN BEEN FOUND?
Scientists at Cardiff University in the UK believe they have discovered the cause of crop failures and summer frosts some 1,500 years ago - a comet colliding with Earth.
Impact Cratering on Earth
Greek Dark Ages
Dark Age Greece (history for kids, also useful for the likes of me).
Early South American culture doomed by earthquakes, floods, blowing sand
Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period Approx. 1100 BC
A Brief History of Chariot Warfare and Its Effects on the Catastrophe of ca 1200 B.C.
1200 BC – War, Climate Change, and Cultural Catastrophe
Ancient Egypt Cities Leveled by Massive Volcano, Lava Find Suggests
Comet smashed into Germany in 200 BC
Discovery of crater indicates meteorite impact in Sahara
Possible Source of Libyan Desert Glass Discovered
Comets and the Bronze Age Collapse
Dark Ages in history
Ancient tsunami 'hit New York'
Mega meteor that crashed off Indian coast' may have wiped out dinosaurs
COLLISIONS 0 - 1799 AD
Not so recent … or are they???
Were the First Americans Wiped Out By an Asteroid?
Comet blamed for 6th century 'nuclear winter'
Collision with comet may have hastened first plague epidemic
Bit more here
VULCAN AND COMETS RELATED SITES
Tsunamis from Impacts
Diamonds tell tale of comet that killed off the cavemen
Fantastic Floods: About 15,000 years ago, in the waning millennia of the Ice Age, a vast lake known as Glacial Lake
Cosmogenic mega-tsunami in the Australia region: are they supported by Aboriginal and Maori legends?
Tsunami Swamped England 400 Years Ago
Where did all the iron rich sand in the Sahara desert come from? It wasn’t there 6,000 years ago?
See HERE and HERE