Cuneiform clay tablet.  Image Credit:  Bristol University

Evidence of Asteroid Impact For Sodom and Gomorrah?

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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A Cuneiform clay tablet that has puzzled researchers for over 150 years is now believed to describe an asteroid impact in 3123 BC in Austria. Researchers believe the tablet, which seemingly describes a cataclysmic event, may account for the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. No mention of pillars of salt however, on the clay tablet.

Geologists discovered evidence of a giant landslide centered at Köfels, Austria back in the 19th century. At 500 meters thick and five kilometers in diameter, this landslide mystified researchers trying to figure out why such an event occurred. Some researchers thought the landslide may have been caused by a meteorite impact, because of the evidence of crushing pressures and explosions. But there was no crater, so it didn’t look as an impact site should, and the impact theory fell out of favor. But researchers knew this wasn’t just an ordinary landslide.

But new research brings the impact theory back into play. It centers on another 19th century mystery, a Cuneiform tablet in the British Museum, known as “the Planisphere”. It was found in the remains of the library in the Royal Place at Nineveh, and was made by an Assyrian scribe around 700 BC. It is an astronomical work with drawings of constellations and the text has known constellation names. The clay tablet has attracted a lot of attention but until now no one has come up with a convincing explanation as to what it is.

Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell from Bristol University used computer programs to simulate trajectories and reconstruct the night sky thousands of years ago to establish what the Planisphere tablet refers to. It is a copy of the night notebook of a Sumerian astronomer as he records the events in the sky before dawn on the 29 June 3123 BC (Julian calendar). Half the tablet records planet positions and cloud cover, but the other half of the tablet records an object large enough for its shape to be noted even though it is still in space. The astronomer made an accurate note of its trajectory relative to the stars, which to an error better than one degree is consistent with an impact at Köfels.

The observation suggests the asteroid is over a kilometer in diameter and the original orbit about the Sun was an Aten type, a class of asteroid that orbits close to the earth, that is resonant with the Earth’s orbit. This trajectory explains why there is no crater at Köfels. The incoming angle was very low (six degrees) and means the asteroid clipped a mountain near the town of Längenfeld, 11 kilometers from Köfels, and this caused the asteroid to explode before it reached its final impact point. As it travelled down the valley it became a fireball, about five kilometers in diameter (the size of the landslide). When it hit Köfels it created enormous pressures that pulverized the rock and caused the landslide but because it was no longer a solid object it did not create a classic impact crater.

Mark Hempsell, hinting at the possible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, added, “Another conclusion can be made from the trajectory. The back plume from the explosion (the mushroom cloud) would be bent over the Mediterranean Sea re-entering the atmosphere over the Levant, Sinai, and Northern Egypt. The ground heating though very short would be enough to ignite any flammable material – including human hair and clothes. It is probable more people died under the plume than in the Alps due to the impact blast.”

This evidence seems to coincide with the biblical story of the legendary dens of vice (“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah – from the Lord out of the heavens” – Genesis 19:24) but it’s never been categorically proven that the towns actually existed in their suspected location close to the Dead Sea. And the story of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt for turning around to witness the mayhem is just biblical legend as well.

The full translation of the tablet together with the analysis supporting these conclusions can be found in the book, “A Sumerian Observation of the Kofels’ Impact Event” by Bond and Hempsell.

Original News Sources: Bristol University and The Register


23 Responses

  1. Jesus says:

    I knew we couldn’t keep that darn meteorite a secret forever.

  2. Thanks, Jesus. That has to be the greatest comment I’ve ever seen on UT.
    Nancy

  3. alan says:

    Science meets science fiction!

  4. Laszlo says:

    The story of Lot’s wife is probably true. I wish I could remember the medical conditions assoc w it.

  5. tim says:

    Fantastic story, and worth looking into in my opinion. Still sounds more plausible than most of the stories in the bible, but I do find it very interesting how a lot of the stories in old religious texts often have a grain of truth to them. I wonder what story they will tell five thousand years from now if apophis ends up taking out some major metropolis….. like maybe Las Vegas. Lol.

  6. Greg says:

    “I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.” A. Einstein

    He does, it seems, like to play with marbles….

    🙂

  7. Jeepers says:

    If I would have turned around and witnessed the death and destruction described here, I probably would have spontaneously produced a pillar of an organic substance other than salt.

  8. greg your last name says:

    Jeepers, that was so good!

  9. Nephish777 says:

    I believe that if you would investigate the Bible with an open mind, you would find that the history recorded in it is flawless. Archeologists are using the Bible texts to locate cities and interpret the finds. Look at the writings of Lee Stobel and Josh McDowell for evidence of the validity of the Bible as more than just legends. I studied physics in college and read heavily on astronomy and “hard science”, but still hold the Bible to be true.

  10. Dark Gnat says:

    You also have to keep in mind the limited knowledge of astronomy to people thousands of years ago.

    Imagine not having telescopes, or knowing about asteroids, and seeing such an event. Even today, and impact like this would be a terrifying event to anyone seeing it firsthand, scientist or not!

  11. Una tablilla de arcilla escrita en caracteres cuneiformes, que desconcertó por más de 150 años a los investigadores, se cree ahora que describe el impacto de un asteroide en 3123 a.n.e., en lo que hoy es Austria. Los investigadores creen que la tablilla, que aparentemente describe un evento cataclísmico, podría explicar la leyenda bíblica de Sodoma y Gomorra. […] Fuente: Nancy Atkinson para Universe Today

  12. Yael Dragwyla says:

    Dark Gnat — right on! BTW, “The Flood” was probably dozens of huge floods all over the world, which took place at different times, and were likely caused by the sudden collapse of increasingly fragile ice-dams behind which glacier meltwater had collected. An interglacial had set in, and that meant that more and more meltwater was backing up behind ice-dams that were also becoming thinner and thinner as the average global temperatures began to rise. No wonder there were huge floods all over the world! The Scablands of WA State, where I live, were carved out by one or more such vast floods coming from Lake Missoula, a huge lake of meltwater that released its burden of ice not just once, but many times as, time after time, an ice dam melted, reformed, melted again, each reformation damming up another collection of meltwater, starting the cycle all over again, over a period of several thousand years. This certainly must have happened in Europe, too, and, likely, in Asia, in numerous places. “The Flood” legends have arisen because of *many* such flooding events, combining and mutating numerous times as the world’s peoples traveled and relocated and met new peoples and cultures. Literalism on either side doesn’t explain this. Yes, there was a Flood — and another, and another, and so on ad infinitum. No, it wasn’t just one Flood, but many. The real history of the world is too complex to be put into a literalist box. Good for you, Dark Gnat, for pointing this out.

  13. Astrofiend (Syd, Aust) says:

    # Dark Gnat Says:
    April 10th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    “You also have to keep in mind the limited knowledge of astronomy to people thousands of years ago.

    Imagine not having telescopes, or knowing about asteroids, and seeing such an event. Even today, and impact like this would be a terrifying event to anyone seeing it firsthand, scientist or not!”

    Precisely Dark Gnat. When the Bible speaks of floods that ‘cover the whole Earth’ and ‘burning Sulphur raining down’ on a place, it is easy to see how modern scientific interpretations of events could be described in such a way by earlier people – it is worth bearing in mind that modern scientific knowledge is merely hundreds of years old after all.

    What pisses me off is everyone being so pig-headed and literal about it all, which goes for religious zealots and hard-headed atheists alike. Both these extreme positions seem completely reactionary to me – they seem to define their own positions entirely in terms of the opposing point of view, which hardly qualifies for original or inspired thought in my book.

  14. Steve says:

    Bond and Hempsell’s argument is tenuous and has not been published in scientific journals. I very much doubt it will stand up to scrutiny.

  15. marcellus says:

    Here’s what happened: Aliens living on Mars in “The Cydonian Complex” had used time travel to find out that one of the descendants of Sodom and Gomorrah would oneday become illegal immigrants (all registered Democrats) in the state of Florida, To save the election for George Bush, they captured an asteroid from the orbit of the Pluto/Charon system, altering its orbit and robbing it of future planethood.

    The resulting impact wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah and saved the election for George by 500 votes. The angels (aliens) that got Lot and his family out were under orders to do so from Galactic High Command.

  16. Adriana says:

    Yes I agree with Astrofiend (Syd, Aust) and Nephish777. You’ve got to look at Bible events with a open mind.

  17. Tech Roach says:

    Does this relate to these wacky theories about Planet X and Niburu ?

  18. joker says:

    😆

    UT is a fun place

    mindless ‘reporting’ of fiction written in sciencebabble jargon.

    Thanks jesus for disclosing some secrets.

    Now what about this walking on water ?

  19. carlos garcia says:

    Hay mas evidencias de impactos extraterrestres que cumplen algunos comentarios biblicos, soy un apasionado de universetoday

  20. Kevin M. says:

    Maybe it can’t be proven by “scrutiny”, but it could be a plausible explanation of certain myths nonetheless. Likewise the floods could certainly be cultural memories of mega-tsunamis from asteroid hits which we have increasing evidence of happening all over the globe. That we can’t concieve of these things happening does not mean they didn’t happen many times in pre-history. Though their effects are big, the evidence can erode and regenerate quickly, and the causes be forgotten within a generation. After that, our mental tendency is to repress overwhelming disaster and reject what seems incomprehensible as fantasy.

    It is now theorized that the Black Sea may have been formed by a single flood event from the Mediterranean, as there is alot of evidence of habitation under that sea. Likewise, there is video evidence of structures under the Dead Sea which could be the settlements of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    The Bible is full of scientific and historic truisms which were recorded as legend, or older legends which were appropriated as mythic truths, and were never intended to be taken as literal. Every society creates its own mythology and creation myths to justify itself to itself. The job of archaeologists is to eventually distill these out. For example, we have no historic evidence of Moses’ existence or large crowds living in the Sinai for forty years, but this legend came from somewhere or was created in response to some real historic social event or purpose..

    Likewise, the crossing of the Red Sea reflects an ancient legend of the Arabian peninsula. It’s great central desert is called a “Sea”, and you cross it by following the volcanic ridge along the west coast. The volcano craters glow at night (pillars of fire) and smoke by day (pillars of smoke), hence the legend of Moses evading the Egyptians across a “Sea” led by smoke and fire. Perhaps realistic if someone crossed not the top of the Red Sea, but the bottom. Or more likely, the old regional truism was appropriated by someone wishing to embellish a creation mythology for a new people or movement.

  21. Kootstar says:

    This article shows a fascinating possibility. More careful and thoughtful archeology in the area just might find remnants of some city that fits the description, or reason for the description in the Bible. It’s happened before and as sciences progress, I’m sure it will happen again, more than once!

  22. g-man says:

    OOOOOOHHH MMMYYYYY GOD!
    ************************************
    You mean to tell me…….that there are actually
    People [Human Beings] who believe ANYTHING HOLY about this useless & worthless piece of rock??, has a message!

    It looks like Nature tried it’s best, to turn this particular rock into Jade!……and Failed!

    If this is the case, then I have a piece of toast with a Nice Picture of “Einstein” on it!
    I’m submitting to EBAY in a couple of days.

  23. Kelly says:

    Nice try but over 1000 years too early…

    We need documentation of an event that happened circa 2100 BC.

Comments are closed.