The Cosmic Disaster
Collected and commented by Timo Niroma, Helsinki, Finland
Selections from "The Egyptians" by C. Aldred (London 1987).
"At this distance of time, the overthrow of the Old Kingdom at the end of the Sixth Dynasty has all the appearance of being sudden and complete.
"Recent research has attributed the abrupt nature of the collapse to contemporary changes in the climate of Africa and the Near East. With the cessation of the Neolithic Wet Phase about 2350 BC, the spectre of famine begins to haunt the region. An isolated block from the Unas Causeway, showing piteously emaciated people weakened by famine and dying of hunger, is an early portent of the evils to come. Egypt was protected from the worst of such irregular calamities by its unique irrigation system. It is fairly evident, however, that a change in the pattern of monsoon rains falling on the Abyssinian plateau could lead to a series of low Niles. Hot winds from the south apparently accompanied this climatic aberration. There are veiled references to the sun being obscured by dust storm: 'the sun is occluded and will not shine that men may see... none may know that it is midday, and the sun will cast no shadow.' The high winds assisted the denudation by creating dust bowls and shifting sand dunes on to the cultivation. The whole political and economic system of Egypt would have been discredited in a very short time. The king-lists refer to many pharaohs during the three decades of the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties, each ruling for a year or two and disappearing without trace.
"In these conditions, 'when the Nile was empty and men crossed over it on foot', Egypt splintered into a number of feudal states. There are cryptic references in the meagre records that have survived to marauding bands of starving people searching for food in more favoured localities.
"In the 20th century BC the local governors took what measures were open to them to succour their own districts, by conserving water supplies, and reducing the number of hungry mouths by driving out famine-stricken invaders, whether natives, Libyans or Asiatics, from their provinces. The internecine strife further restricted the areas of cultivation; and the perils of these times are reflected in the boasts of the local rulers on their crude tomb stelae. The cataclysm is plain for all to see. The monuments of the period are very sparse and mere feeble copies of the Memphite style of the past. The widespread civil disorder is evident in the decoration of the crude model funerary boats, hacked out of the local wood. All were afraid when they beheld smoke arising in the south. Macabre reminders of the civil strife of these days are the bodies of some sixty shock troops who were accorded an honoured mass-burial at Thebes. Their wounds showed that they had fallen in the desperate storming of some key fortress.
"Famine in their own lands always drove Libyans and the bedouin of Sinai and the Negeb to graze their flocks on the borders of the Delta in the manner of Abraham and Jacob. The evils caused by famine, poverty, social upheaval and anarchy brought others in their train such as plague and sterility. A deep and lasting impression was left on the ancient Egyptians by the trauma of these times, so that in later literary works, such as the Prophecy of Neferti and the Admonitions of Ipuwer, when the writer wished to depict mankind tormented by intolerable miseries, it was the sufferings of this period that he recalled."
The destruction of the Old Kingdom was followed by a period of a violent economic and social upheaval.
From Admonitions of Ipuwer:
"The fruitful water of Nile is flooding,Translated, collected and commented by TN.
The fields are not cultivated,
Robbers and tramps wander about and
Foreign people invade the country from everywhere.
Diseases rage and women are barren.
All social order has ceased,
Taxes are not paid and
Temples and palaces are being insulted.
Those who once were veiled by splendid garments, are now ragged.
Noble women wander around the country and lament:
"If only we would have something to eat."
Men throw themselves in the jaws of crocodiles -
So out of one's senses are people in their horror.
Laughter has ceased everywhere.
Mourning and lament are in its place.
Both old and young wish they are dead."
"Men don't any more sail to north, to Byblos.
"Where do we now get our cedar for our mummy coffins and oil to balm?""
"The large fields and acres produced no grain
The flooded fields produced no fish
The watered gardens produced no honey and wine
The heavy clouds did not rain
On its plains where grew fine plants
'lamentation reeds' now grow."
Quotations from H. Weiss, The Sciences, May/June 1996
"First of the world's empires, Akkad was not the last to blame its fall on sacrilege. In a fit of pique, the author of the curse believed, the Akkadian emperor had destroyed a temple to the sky god Enlil, bringing on a century of drought, famine, and barbarian invasions. How else to explain the empire's sudden, calamitous decline?
"Only a hundred years before the collapse, Sargon of Akkad had wrested the Sumerian city-states from Lugalzaggesi of Umma, then stormed across the plains of Mesopotamia. When it was done the Akkadian Empire controlled trade from the silver mines of Anatolia to the lapis lazuli mines of Badakhshan, from the cedar forests of Lebanon to the Gulf of Oman. In northern Mesopotamia, meanwhile, fortresses were built to control imperial wheat production. To the south, irrigation canals were extended, a new bureaucracy established and palaces and temples built from imperial taxes.
"Then, abruptly, things fell apart. Sometime around 2200 BC seasonal rains became scarce, and withering storms replaced them. The winds cut through northern wheat fields and blanketed them in dust. They emptied out towns and villages, sending people stumbling south with pastoral nomads, to seek forage along rivers and streams. For more than a hundred years the desertification continued, disrupting societies from southwestern Europe to central Asia. Egypt's Old Kingdom, the towns of Palestine and the great cities of the Indus Valley also were among the casualties.
"The Akkadian occupation of Tell Leilan, in any case, was to last less than a hundred years. Only decades after the city's massive walls were raised, its religious quarter renovated and its grain production reorganized, Tell Leilan was suddenly abandoned. In our excavations the collapsed remains of Akkadian buildings are covered with erosion deposits that show no trace of human activity. Only above them, in strata from 1900 BC, do ash, trash, and the monumental remains of a new imperial capital appear.
"Striking as it is, the site's occupational hiatus came as no surprise to us. Archaeologists first documented it in the late 1930s at other sites in the region, relegating it to a footnote. Fifty years later, when our team rediscovered the odd hiatus, we went one step further. By determining radiocarbon dates for materials from before and after the hiatus, we refined its chronology. By comparing ceramics from our site with ceramics from the same strata at other sites, we tracked the hiatus throughout the area. Whether at Tell Leilan or Tell Taya, Chagar Bazar or Tell-al-Hawa, the results told the same story: between 2200 and 1900 BC, people fled the Habur and Assyrian plains en masse.
"Little by little, evidence of previously unrecorded climatic events emerged. A thin layer of volcanic ash covers the last Akkadian mud bricks. Just above that a layer of fine sand eight inches thick testifies to centuries of flailing wind and relentless drought. A volcanic eruption probably could not have caused the disaster, but whether one did so may be unimportant. No matter what caused them, dust storms and drought made rain-fed farming difficult if not impossible. Year after year crops failed in northern cities.
"Periods of drying climate are nothing new to Near Eastern archaeologists. What is new are the data showing sudden, severe, long-term climatic change. Add to these findings the simultaneous social collapses documented in the Aegean, Egypt, Palestine, Iran, and the Indus Valley, and you have a provocative picture indeed. The problem, oddly enough, is that archaeologists have been ignoring it for decades.
"In 1948 the French archaeologist Claude Schaeffer cast his eye over the urban collapses of the third millennium and concluded that regionwide earthquakes were to blame. A decade later the British archaeologist James Mellaart fingered drought and migrations as the culprit. Schaeffer's hypothesis seemed too fantastic for serious study; Mellaart's, though less improbable, still depended on a deus ex machina.
"Civilization on Crete and mainland Greece, like its neighbors, collapsed in 2200 BC. The great cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley collapsed between 2200 and 2100 BC. The archaeologist Rafique Mughal of the Pakistan Department of Archaeology blames shifting river courses, citing evidence that the Indus River channels moved eastward, away from Harappan urban centers.
"Could the collapses be coincidental? No. There is no pattern of collapse in 2700 BC or in 2500 BC, only in 2200 BC.
Dry spells and drops in lake levels (occur) in the Sahel, the Sahara, northwestern India, and western Tibet roughly between 2600 and 2200 BC. Lake Turkana in Kenya abruptly changed from an open to a closed basin around 2000 BC. And around 2250 BC the level of the Dead Sea reached a nadir. Sediments between Greenland and Iceland show a cold peak around 2200 BC. Gulf of Oman: around 2300 BC dust suddenly increased fivefold, the record during (the) Holocene. The dust peak contains shards of volcanic glass." (The population of Finland dropped to 1/3 somewhere between 2400 and 2000 BC. - TN)
Epilogue by TN
The Third Dynasty of Ur was the last attempt to revive Sumer, after a chaos of 100 years beginning with the destruction of Akkadian Sumer around 2200 BC. During the Akkadian period wheat was the most important cereal and its share of the harvest was about 20 %. During the years 2200-2100 BC the saltiness of the soil rose markedly, possibly because of salty sea floods and, and after them, because of the following dryness that evaporated the water leaving the salt behind. In the northern Mesopotamia the wheat share dropped to 2 % and in the southern part to zero. This change seems to coincide with the period when there was no central authority.
Mesopotamia and other above-mentioned places were not the only victims of the 2200 BC event. As far away as in China, the Hongsan culture fell in pieces at this same time. This, if not anything else, is an indication of the mighty character of the event, and bolsters us to consider it as global.
Quotations from SIS.
"Extensive evidence exists that Early Bronze II came to an end some centuries before 2000 BC with general destruction and cultural disruption throughout most of Anatolia. Mellaart in 1960:
"... the number of sites burnt or deserted has already reached the number of 350, and in the following period not more than one out of every four earlier settlements was inhabited, and often not more than squatted on. Whole areas, such as the Konya Plain and the Pisidian plains south of Burdur revert to nomadism after thousands of years of settled agricultural life."
The EB sequence of Troy in western Anatolia is complex, and also confused to some extent because of inadequacies in Schlieman's early excavations. There is however strong agreement that phase IIg of Troy was destroyed by fire at this time. In the words of the excavator, Carl Blegen:
"The stratum of Troy IIg had an average thickness of more than one metre; it consisted mainly of ashes, charred matter and burned debris. This deposit apparently extended uniformly over the great megaron and across the entire site, eloquent evidence that the settlement perished in a vast conflagration from which no buildings escaped ruin."
Even the stones of the walls were reddened and calcined by fire in a destruction of fearful suddenness:
"In all areas examined by the Cincinnati expedition, it was obvious that the catastrophe struck suddenly, without warning, giving the inhabitants little or no time to collect and save their most treasured belongings before they fled. All the houses exposed were still found to contain the fire-scarred wreckage of their furnishings, equipment, and stores of supplies. Almost every building yielded scattered bits of gold ornaments and jewelry, no doubt hastily abandoned in panic flight."
There were dislocated building foundations for Troy IIg which would indicate earthquake damage. Despite the great destruction, there is no evidence of a massacre by foreign elements; furthermore, the same culture reoccupied the site afterwards. McQueen, a noted archaeologist, states that Troy IIg was "destroyed by fire without apparently the involvement of any outside enemy"."
The following excerpts are from " Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse", ed. by Nuzhet Dalfes, George Kukla and Harvey Weiss, NATO ASI Series, Vol I 49, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997. The book is based upon Proceedings of the Workshop by that name held at Kerner, Turkey, in September 1994. Harvey Weiss from Yale University has summarized some of the data from this book in an article entitled"Late Third Millennium Abrupt Climate Change and Social Collapse in West Asia and Egypt". Citations are from H. Weiss's article (unless otherwise noted).
I begin by picking some relevant pieces which seem to support my catastrophe theory. The climate change will be discussed regarding four regions: Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt and Indus Valley.
"Lemcke and Sturm (Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse) document an abrupt doubling of the quartz content of [one] Lake Van core ... or a tripling in other Van sediment records (Lemcke, abstract 1994), from 4200 to 4000 BP. This spike is synchronous with initiation of the k(18)O enrichment phase at 4190 cal yr BP (Lemcke and Sturm, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse"). As Butzer (Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse") notes, the Lemcke and Sturm oxygen isotope record from the Van varves indicates a pronounced dry spell ca. 2350-2075 BC."
"Together these suggest, with Courty (Paleorient 20, 1994), that the 2200 BC phase of decreased precipitation was synchronous with increased wind turbulence and aeolian dust transport to Lake Van. Sampling at 84 year intervals may have precluded observations of Na and Al peaks that are considered to be effects of volcanic tephra."
Or the missing Na and Al peaks are indications that the tephra is not of volcanic origin. Courty herself has later deviated from his early opinion and admitted the non-volcanic character.
The following extract is from Marie-Agnes Courty and Harvey Weiss:
"The Scenario of Environmental Degradation in the Tell Leilan Region,
NE Syria, During the Late Third Millennium Abrupt Climate Change":
"The occurrence of an abrupt climate change 2200-1900 BC has been identified by changes in the dynamic of soil landscapes of the Habur Plains (Weiss et al. 1993). The chronostratigraphic record at Tell Leilan and regional survey links the rapid establishment of drastic arid conditions with site and regional abandonment. The soil properties of the 300 year long occupational hiatus stratum suggest that the climatic disturbance persisted until a "normal" climatic pattern was re-established ca. 1900 BC when the Tell Leilan region was re-occcupied."
As later will be noted, Courty changes the Tell Leilan hiatus to ca. 2350 BC and Harvey enlarges the whole Anatolian-Mesopotamian incident as having happened 2200 +/-200 BC.
My hypothesis is that there were two events, the first one around 2350 BC (2345 BC?), and the second one around 2200 BC (2193-2194 BC?), of similar cause, but possibly independent of each other.
Other places of major wind erosion at the end of the third millennium BC are from southern Iraq (Robert Adams: Heartland of Cities. Chicago 1981) and the wind-blown dolomite Mesopotamian dust within a sediment core from the Gulf of Oman.
"In the eastern Mediterranean, the exceptionally arid climate stage 4 of the Dead Sea Holocene record, beginning abruptly at ca. 2200 BC, is represented by a ca. 100 meter drop in Dead Sea level. "Abruptness" in this case is defined by six radiocarbon dates, with interpolation nadir."
My theory suggests that the southern part of the Dead Sea is a meteorite crater that catalysmically was born around 2200 BC.
Lake Turkana, which has great control over Nile floods, had a low lake level at 2250-2200 BC. Lake conditions changed abruptly, but the atmospheric circulation changed only gradually during the next centuries.
An interpretation based on Ilhem Bentalen et al.: " Monsoon Regime Variations During the Late Holocene in the SW India, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse".
First I have made a time calibration: 3500 BP radiocarbon calibrated as 2200 BC, 4300 BP radiocarbon calibrated as 3100 BC (based on Schove: Sunspots plus several articles in Nature). Place: near the mouth of Kalinadi river.
Evergreen forest dropped from nearly 30% from 3100 BC to 15-20% in 2800 BC. The next drop was from nearly 20% in 2200 BC to below 10% in the next centuries. At the same time periods savanna increased from 20% to 40%, then remained at that level until 2200 BC, when there began a rapid increase, which leveled at 60% in 2 centuries. The most dramatic shifts are seen in delta(13)C: A sudden change from the level of 23 o/oo to 23.5 in 3100 BC and a rapid return to 23, and a new sudden change to 23.5 at 2200 BC and then a sharp change that eventually levels off to today's value of 21.5 o/oo some thousand years later.
"The quality of 2200 BC abrupt climate change records varies considerably,
but none so much as the paleobotanical one (Bottema, Third Millennium BC
Climate Change and Old World Collapse).
Why this is the case remains to be explained. Some cores of West Asia lakes (van Zeist and Bottema: Late Quaternary Vegetation of the Near East, Wiesbaden 1991) indicate an abrupt decline in arboreal pollen ca. 2200-1950 BC."
There are clear occupation hiatuses at Habur Plains/Tell Leilan (NE Syria), Tell Taya (N Iraq), Palestina, Iranian plateau and then there is the very sudden and dramatic collapse of Mohenjo-Daro, all beginning around 2200 BC (Dalfes, Kukla, Weiss, 1997). The whole area including East Africa, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gulf of Oman, Aegean, Indus shows signs of abrupt climatic change around 2200 BC.
Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia shows an interesting peak in core Van 90-10. Oxygen isotope 18 and the lake water ratio of Mg/Ca begin to increase in 4190 BP (varve count calendar) (Gerry Lemcke and Michael Sturm, Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse)
Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana shows an abrupt drop of 30m in lake level below today's level around 2200 BC. Its previous level is not exactly known, but had for 3000 to 4000 years been at least 60m higher than today. (Rhodes Fairbridge et al., Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse).
The following model has been set forth by Courty and Weiss in The Scenario of Environmental Degradation in the Tell Leilan Region, NE Syria, During the Late Third Millennium Abrupt Climate Change (Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse).
1. Large-scale climatic disturbances caused by
2. Modification of the land/sea temperature gradient in the Mediterranean basin caused by
3A. Surface cooling/increased planetary albedo (suppression of regular precipitation) and
3B. Heavy rainstorms.
4A. Increased planetary albedo is caused by radiative forcing.
4B. Heavy rainstorms are caused by cloud condensation nuclei.
5. The above sequence is caused by
5.1. Massive smoke injection and
5.2. Ash and dust fallout.
6. Extensive wildfires, unknown causes.
My suggestion for
the extensive wildfires or
the burning forests (smoke and ash)
is that they were caused
by the tremendous heat waves caused by
cosmic impacts in the Anatolian area.
The impacts themselves ejected
hot dust in the atmosphere
plus caused earthquakes and volcanic bursts.
"Near-Earth objects (NEOs) comprise a heterogeneous population of objects from a variety of sources ranging from long-period comets to the main asteroid belt. Recent dynamical results show that the orbits are chaotic, and that comets may in principle evolve into orbits similar to those of objects usually classified as asteroids (and vice-versa), and that comets and asteroids may resemble one another depending on the phase of their physical evolution and heliocentric distance."
"Test on various late Third millennium BC archaeological deposit provides evidence for the regional occurrence in northern Syria of a layer with an uncommon petrographic assemblage, dated at ca. 2350 BC. It consists of fine sand-sized, well-sorted spherules of various composition, millimetric sized fragments of a black, vesicular, amorphous material made of silicates with Mg-Ca carbonate and phosphate inclusions, ovoid micro-aggregates made of densely packed crystals and exogenous angular fragments of a coarse crystallised igneous rock. All these particles are only present in this specific layer and are finely mixed with mud-brick debris or with a burnt surface horizon in the contemporaneous soils. In occupation sequences, the layer displays an uncommon dense packing of sand-sized, very porous aggregates that suggests disintegration of the mud-brick construction by an air blast. In the virgin soil, the burnt horizon contains black soot and graphite, and appears to have been instantaneously fossilized by a rapid and uncommon colluvial wash. Occurrence in a previously recorded thick tephra deposit of particles identical to some of the mysterious layer and resemblance of its original pseudo-sand fabric with the exploded one of the mysterious layer confirms that the later is contemporaneous with the tephra deposit. ... The restricted occurrence of the [tephra deposit] suggests that the massive tephra accumulation can no longer be considered as a typical fallout derived from the dispersion of material from a terrestrial volcanic explosion. ... Origin of this mysterious phenomena still remains unsolved."
Courty continues that this new dating causes the Akkad empire sudden collapse theory, based on an abrupt climate change, to lose its basis. I see however that the evidence of a great cataclysm between 2200 BC and 2190 BC is so compelling that on this basis we can't dismiss it. On the other hand, Courty is right in her theory of a major occurrence which I would date between 2350 BC and 2340 BC. When the External Collapse Theory (ECT) was first introduced in the late 1980's or early 1990's, the proponents talked about an event ca. 2300 BC. The 1994 SIS Conference talked about a 2200 BC event. In the Cambridge Conference 1997 and elsewhere also there has been an accumulating evidence of some event around 2350 BC besides the 2200 BC event. I suggest that there really were two disparate events, a local one in Near East 2200-2190 BC and 150 years later, 2200-2190 BC, a global one.
"In 1988 the observation was made that narrowest-ring events in Irish sub-fossil oak chronologies appeared to line up with large acidities in the Greenland ice records from Camp Century and Dye3. Three of the events, at tree-ring ages 2345 BC, 1628 BC and 1159 BC turned out to be of particular interest as they contributed to debates on the Hekla 4 eruption in Iceland, Santorini [Thera] in the Aegean, and, possibly, Hekla 3..."
I think there are good grounds to combine the 1628 BC event with Santorini/Thera, but Hekla 4 looks like a later event, ca. 2300 BC, and vice versa the 2350 BC event doesn't look like a volcanic event. Also the connection between Hekla 3 and the 1159 BC event is questionable, because of its larger context from Mycenean to Shang dynasty China.
Baillie has later come to the conclusion that only 1628 BC is volcano-based, but 2345BC and 1159BC are not.
"...Most sites in Greece (ca.260), Anatolia (ca.350), the Levant (ca.200), Mesopotamia (ca.30), the Indian subcontinent (ca.230), China (ca.20), Persia/Afghanistan (ca.50), Iberia (ca.70) which collapsed at around 2200+-200 BC, exhibit unambiguous signs of natural calamities and/or rapid abandonment. The proxy data detected in the marine, terrestrial, biological and archaeological records point to sudden ecological, climatic and social upheavals which appear to coincide with simultaneous sea- and lake-level changes, increased levels of seismic activity and widespread flood/tsunami disasters. The main problem in interconnecting this vast amount of data chronologically is the application of incoherent and imprecise dating methods in different areas of geological and climatological research..."
I would like to add Finland to this list: The population here dropped suddenly to third of its previous value sometimes between 2400 BC and 2000 BC (Turku University).
Another aspect of this is that if there ever was a real (pre)historical background for the flood- and other catastrophe stories, including Plato's Timaios and Critias and the Oera Linda book. The flood stories in Genesis, Plato and Oera Linda may have got some of their content from the evident Atlantic tsunami in 2200-2190 BC, although I consider the main flood originator both in general and especially Atrahasis/Gilgames/Genesis something that happened about 3100 BC.
So it seems that there were two separate cataclysms in the latter part of the third millennium BC.
The period of Sargon, from 2334 BC to 2279 BC, was very prosperous. Under the reign of Naram-Sin from 2254 BC to 2218 BC everything still seemed "normal". Akkadian Sumer was a welfare state in its own way during those times. If the Anatolian event of 2345 BC was a local one, it neatly explains Sargon's attack on the south of Anatolia, because of the havoc in north, and also the prosperity that followed when the highly civilized Akkadian culture moved south. In fact before 2345 BC there was not any big difference between Northern and Southern Mesopotamia. But when the North was in Chaos, this meant both welfare and difficulties for the South. The population increased suddenly, which stressed the food supply seems to have driven hungry people still farther to the south, towards Egypt. Still Sumer prospered. But 150 years later all this came to an abrupt end. The reign of Shar-Kali-Sharri was interrupted suddenly into a chaos in 2193 BC .
How about Egypt? The end of the Old Kingdom of Egypt is surrounded by many uncertainties. Modern Egyptologists originally thought that its last king was Pepi II, whose reign began about 2250 BC. Later his reign was counted as having lasted 90 years. Still later they added two more kings, Intiemsaef II and Neithkeret. If we accept the original estimate that Pepi II was the last Old Kingdom king, and if we take as a tentative theory that the catastrophe also happened in Egypt in 2193 BC, it still gives Pepi a reign of some 60 years.
So there seems to be a difference between the 2350 BC and 2200 BC events. I suggest that the 2350 BC event was local, an Anatolian event, from the Aegean to the Caspian. The 2200 BC event was global, as seen by the evidence from Iberia to China. The Rio Cuarto impact in Argentina seems also to have happened during the latter part of the third millennium BC. Unable to destroy Tell Leilan and leave surroundings untouched, I would link it rather to the 2200 BC event. With its 50 km long and 10 km wide destruction path consisting of 11 craters (the largest one is 4.5 km long and 1.1 km wide) it must have had global consequences. Because of its different direction (nearly north to south) and different latitude of impact at 20 degrees S would however hint that it was a third and separate event during the series of catastrophes during the late third millennium BC. Be it connected to either of the mentioned cataclysms or a separate one in the late third millennium, one thing is sure: it must have had wordwide consequences, especially climatological. A flood event it was not, because it happened right in the middle of South America. But it itself was a multiple event and can have been accompanied by some debris that fall into Atl
In fact Greek mythology speaks of three flood events, of which the Ogyges and Deucalion legends are the most famous. Ogyges would then be the Anatolian event of 2345 BC and Deucalion event the global event of 2193-2194 BC. The third would be that of Atrahasis and Gilgames (the precursor for the Noachian flood) but because it happened in the first part of the unlucky third millennium BC, it is not considered here.
But let's go back to the 2200 BC event. In China a ruler named Yu, who has been praised of attempts to stop floods in China, reigned according to the standard chronology from 2205 BC to 2197 BC. The legend tells that at the time of the birth of Abra(ha)m there was a guest star (supernova). Bamboo Annals give one in 2287 BC. Again according to legend Abraham was of age 99, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. If we take this literally we get the year 2188 BC, but of course the 99 years could also mean "nearly 100".
Marie-Agnes Court (The Soil Record of an Exceptional Event at 4000 BP in the Middle East (Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations, ed. Benny Peiser et al., Oxford 1998)), whose excavations at Tell Leilan in Northern Syria has led to two layers of burnt soil, whose calibrations (from radiocarbon age) yield ages of 4400-3900 BC and 4800-4300 BC, open also the above two windows. Benny Peiser ("Comparative Analysis of Late Holocene Upheaval") says that "Floodplain deposits of up to 3 metres thick and stretching up to 15 kilometres inland have been detected between Tirys and Mycenae" dated to ca. 2200-2300 BC.
Now there is a very interesting coincidence. There exists one very old Frisian manuscript named the Oera Linda book. It was found in 1820, but the scientific community condemned it as a forgery in 1871. We can ask if that was too hasty a conclusion. One of the reasons the issue should be reconsidered is that the book is some kind of a diary from the third millennium BC to about 500 BC. Right in the beginning is mentioned "The destruction of Atland" in 2194 BC. It describes the paradise before that, the year 2194 "when the bad days came", the escape of Atlanders first to Crete, where they founded their culture, the Minoan culture.
There have been excavations on the Lisan peninsula, which nearly cuts the southern part of the Dead Sea off from the rest of it. It is also different from the main Dead Sea in that it's mean depth is very different from the rest of the Dead Sea, only 10 m in average. It seems that there was a great catastrophe around 2200 BC that has destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The surface of the Dead Sea dropped suddenly by 100m around 2200 BC (Frumkin et al., The Holocene 1.3, 1991). If we take the story in Genesis for what it seems to indicate, the whole southern part of the Dead Sea may be an impact crater that was caused by a cosmic disaster, one piece in the 2200 BC disaster.
Besides the most evident cosmic catastrophes ca. 2200 BC and 2345 BC there are other events during the Holocene that are so widely global and difficult to explain by only the Earth's own mechanisms that a cosmic explanation must evidently be taken into account.
The first so-called "Dark Age", meaning a period from which little is known despite much information before and after that period, occurred about 3100 BC to 3000 BC. For example in Mesopotamia this period is called Jemdet Nasr. About 3100 BC there was suddenly a change to more primitive ages compared to the preceding Uruk period. For example the numerical token system dwindled. 3000 BC however there was a sudden recovery. This is called the Early Dynasty, which can be described as the first known culture, that began to have some kind of a centralized system. And the tokens were not only numerated again, the basis for writing was born.
What happened 3100 BC, maybe right in 3114 BC? That's the year 0 in Mayan calendar. There is many stories around the world of great floods. There are two small craters from about this time, but what seems more probable, is a huge meteorite swarm that both caused much damage on land, brought up tsunamis and blanketed with dust the atmosphere. It may have been a break-up of a great comet in the inner parts of the solar system. People were panic-stricken. The beginnings of civilizations, however, got despite of the immediate damage, a first great rise, after about a hundred years had gone. There was a great boomtime. that eventually led to the rise of the first great civilizations in the beginning of the third millennium BC.The prime example is the unification of southern and northern Egypt. The great mystery is how did the fusion happen? There is not any clear indication of one part conquering the other. It seems like the northern culture won over the southern, but that the new kings came from the south. The artifacts hint to that the first King of the unified Egypt was called Menes and that the unification took place between 3150 and 3110 BC. 3100 BC has been traditionally held as the watermark between the Predynastic and Early Dynastic Period in Egypt. It took still 400 years before it was transformed in the so called Old Kingdom in about 2700 BC.
These timestamps have oddly enough a great resemblance besides the Mayan year 0. The Mesopotamians had the great variations in their pre-writings that finally led to the first marks that really can be called as writing. Also the wheel was introduced. The great city-states Ur and Uruk were built, and around 2600 BC they had began to be part of a larger political union. Gilgamesh, the great flood-king, lived during this period. Pre-Minoan culture was risen in Crete. Neolithic settlements, Stonehenge, Newgrange, Skara Brae in the Scottish Orkney island were built. The coastal menhirs (great stones) began to be built in Brittany.
Dick Meehan adds to this list flood marks in paleoclimatic data, methane peak in Greenland ice and cold time according to bristlecone pines in Britain.
Although anyone of these in itself would not be of any great concern, the timing of them in a frame of only 100 years, is the thing that makes us suspect that something unusual was going on. And actually beginning, the next 1000 years or so were very restless time globally.
Aftermath of this may be the 2807 BC ocean impact described by Bruce Masse in Peiser et al.: Natural Catastrophes (Oxford, 1998). If this is the great Flood Comet, as Masse seems to indicate, this explains why the Sumerian story of Flood, on which basis the Genesis Noachian Flood story is built, is combined with the story of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh reigned in the 27th century, 300-450 years before the two great cataclysms in late third millennium BC. Or was the comet or comets swarming and breaking up the whole period of 3114 BC to 2807 BC with diminishing frequency and damage ending temporarily in a great splash in the Atlantic?
The second Dark Age lasted from 2200 BC to 1900 BC. A third Dark Age seems to have followed the "tree ring event" (where the tree rings were very narrow) of 1159 BC (Baillie, A Slice through time). The Mycenean culture may be one of its victims.
Also, the end of Younger Dryas and with it the latest ice age 9700 BC seems to me too sudden and too dramatic a change to happen in an instant, as the Greenland ice cores seem to show, if we seek only terrestrial explanations. What the sudden change indicates is a mystery, but a rise by 15 degrees C in at most some decades, a rise that has remained permanent within some degrees during the last 11,700 years, indicates a catastrophe literally of cosmic dimensions.
The fourth Dark Age is Anno Domini. The beginning year is 536. That year there was reduced growth of trees in America. In China stars were not seen and a famine began. In Ireland there was "a failure of bread" for many years. Dry fog hovered globally. Mediterranean famine began 537 when the storages for food had been eated empty. The famine lasted at least two years. Socalled Justinian plague began 542. At this time the splendid but badly known culture of Moche in Peru came to a sudden end. May this 536 event also have given the Roman empire its last fatal blow? The Justinian's desperate offensive to restore the Roman empire which he launched 533 was doomed already in 537 when the Franks seized Provence.
Nile froze in 829 AD. Mayan from all lowlands disappeared in the first part of the ninth century. Vikings had easy access to almost uninhabited Western Europe islands and coast in ninth century? Were there again cosmic forces at work? Was there a tsunami in North Atlantic?
So have cosmic forces let down Sumer, the most brilliant phase of Egypt, Indus with Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan, Babylon, Shang dynasty in China, Moche culture in Peru and I dare to ask, did they put a final end to the disintegration of Roman empire that had been going on already for 200 years? Not to speak of the Flyland (Escape Country) or Altland (Oldland) or Atland in 2194 BC when the survivors escaped to Crete and established there the Minoan culture.
The Mayan Calendar
The Mayans/Olmecs put their 0.0.0.0.0 date at Gregorian time 3114 BC. Stonehenge I (the original astronomical one) was built near 3100 BC, as was Newgrange. The civilization of Sumer had a downfall around 3100-3000 BC, but both Sumer and Egypt then blossomed into an unprecedented and subsequently never exceeded level. Was this the paradise period in Sumer? At least the period from 3000 BC to 2350 BC seems to have been much wetter in Mesopotamia, and the Nile more generous, than the extremely dry period beginning in 2200 BC.
"Stonehenge I was built as some sort of astronomical observatory that did not include lunar observations ... and it was only later that the people - of a quite different culture - realized that it was a peculiarity of the location that the sight lines form a rectangle ... pointed toward certain celestial phenomena, such as the maximum and minimum azimuths of the Moon as it rises and sets. ... As Hoyle suggests, Stonehenge II and III are characterized by ritual/numinous utility rather than novel astronomical observing; what could have better convinced the people that this was a sacrosanct site than the special properties that were revealed as they watched the Sun and the Moon from there ..."
"Although we know that 5,000 years ago the Sun, the Moon, and the planets were behaving as they do now, we cannot be sure that there were not some additional celestial features that are no longer seen. Quite apart from Stonehenge, many other megalithic sites seem to have been constructed, starting around 3000 BC, by cultures spread across the globe, having no communication with each other, but watching a common sky. ... For example, a Neolithic passage grave at Newgrange in Ireland has a gap in its roof through which the Sun illuminates its main chamber at sunrise on Midwinter Day, or at least it did so 5,000 years ago. ... Why were the ancients suddenly so interested in the sky? Obviously, the special events happening in the sky must have been short-lived phenomena (because the megalith- building phase seems to have sprung up and then receded). ... The precession of meteoroid streams leads to periods of activity only a few centuries long. This gives us a clue."
"Everything is shaking ang quaking and discounts from heaven. The wolf is so big, that it can snap from earth to heaven, enabling it to swallow the Sun.
The snake is so big, that it fills the sea, runs into the beach and throws fire and poison so that the earth begins to catch fire.
The tremblings shake loose the ash of the Aasa-land ja burn it and its burning branches spread all over the world and even the stars in the heaven move their place.
Heimdal blows into his horn, more loudly than a thunderstorm, the soldiers of Valhalla are crowding on the lowland of Ida, but giant birds and dragons spitting fire fill the air and fall on the lowland and fall on the soldiers crashing them.
Down in the Middle Land people run out of their homes like ants from disturbed stacks, and the mighty army pushes itself beneath them, to the rainbow bridge, which breaks down, the wolf jumps to the Aasa Land, the snake climbs upon its tail, binds itself into the Odin's Lidskjalv and draws thus itself up.
The higher gods are very small, they stay like black shadows against the burning sky. Odin throws his spear towards the wolf which swallows the spear and also Odin.
Tyr lifts his hand against the wolf, but it is the left hand, the right one is already gone, and now he loses also his left one. Frei has lost his sword, that can swing by itself, and he flings in vain to the tower-high giants.
Tor slings his hammer towards the wolf and smashes its head, its poison bursts out and Tor stumbles and falls.
The ash has burned into smoke, the Aaasa Land has burned into smoke, the sea swells over the Middle Land, the giant birds fly with their wings in fire, and the vanish as sparks in the smoke."
How would you have described a cometary super-Tunguska some thousan years ago? With some gifts of a poet. I think very much like this.
A Possible Source for the 3100 BC Event
Continuing with selections from "Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets" by Duncan Steel
"The outrageous suggestion that I am going to make is that the Taurid Complex was producing phenomenal meteor storms between 4,500 and 5,000 years ago, accompanied by multiple Tunguska-class atmospheric detonations, and that Stonehenge I was designed to allow the (awestruck, terrified) culture of southern England to make observations of the Phenomena and to perhaps predict their recurrence. Peter Lancaster Brown, in his book on megalithic sites, wrote that "Eclipses, comets and meteorites were astronomical phenomena widely observed by the ancients. But probably only eclipses were predictable." (Steel means to imply that Stonehenge I was needed to make observations because meteorite falls are far more unpredictable, but and at the same time may be long-lasting and recurring. - TN.)
Steel continues this theme in Peiser et al.: Natural Catastrophes (Oxford, 1998) by commenting that he sees no connection between the original Stonehenge I (built in 3100 BC) and the thousand year later Stonehenge II and Stonehenge III except the place. The original one was a scientific observatory, not for Sun, or Moon, or eclipses, but for watching dangerous meteorites, asteroids and comets. The later Stonehenges with their stones (the image of Stonehenge that we have of it today), was more that of a ritual and sanctuary than for any practical/scientific purpose. Of course it could be used for some trivial astronomical calculations (solstices, eclipses), but its original purpose was hardly known for the later builders. The world's first scientific astronomical observatory changed to a ritual place, because it was not anymore needed for its original purpose when the Taurids did not at that moment bother mankind, in fact the Taurids lived only in legends. Today the legends are coming part of a serious scientific study. What a change in paradigm!
Rogue Asteroids: "Comet Encke is associated with the Taurid Complex. If we follow the orbit of P/Encke backward, we find that it intersected that of the Earth around 1,800 and 5,000 years ago (ascending) and 2,100 and 4,700 years ago (descending)."
The Taurid complex is a comet/meteor swarm complex, whose main body is the periodic comet Encke with an unknown number of meteoroid swarms plus possibly some small body pieces. When the Taurid complex intersected Earth 5000 years ago, maybe around 3100 BC, it may have caused a 100 year long period of tunguskans and mini-tunguskans.
Clube and Napier have already in their legendary "The Cosmic Winter" (Oxford (UK), Cambridge (US), 1990) told the Taurid story:
"It seems clear that we are looking at debris from the breakup of an extremely large object. The disintegration, or sequence of disintegrations, must have taken place within the past twenty or thirty thousand years as otherwise the asteroids would have spread around the inner planetary system and be no longer recognizable as a stream.
"The second discovery, due mainly to the Czechoslovakian astronomer Stohl, is that enveloping the Taurids, Comet Encke and these particular asteroids is a broad tube of meteoric debris. ... The Stohl stream is apparently double due probably to an exceptional fragmentation... The mass of the meteoric material within the Stohl stream is 10 or 20 billion tonnes. ... Adding in the mass of gas and very fine dust ... we find that the original body must have been about 100 kilometres across. ... Backtracking the orbits of Encke and Oljato, we find that 9500 years ago their orbits were nearly identical. It is possible there was a major disintegration of the prime body then, with much debris created of which Comet Encke and Oljato are the largest known bodies ... Oljato itself is in an orbit which brought it virtually into the Earth's orbital plane for some centuries around 3000-3500 BC."
Was it Oljato's tail that swarmed Earth around 3100 BC? Did it have a partner or is Swift-Tuttle a part of a parent body of both or did the parent body disintgrate into three parts: Oljate, Swift-Tuttle and a third part that rained on Earth 13 August 3114 BC, the Mayan day zero?
Darwin was not wrong while saying that evolution is the survival of the fittest, but today we must add that evolution is the survival of the fittest of the luckiest.
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Astronomical Aspects of Mankind's Past and Recent Climate