History News: Sodom meteor, Viking Patara, and more!

Brian G Turner

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#1
dead-sea-jordan.jpg



1. Air-burst meteor destroyed Sodom?

“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities — and also the vegetation in the land.” - Genesis 19:24–25

An interesting theory put forward this week suggests that a powerful air-burst meteor destroyed settlements around the Dead Sea: An exploding meteor may have wiped out ancient Dead Sea communities

Radiocarbon dating and unearthed minerals that instantly crystallized at high temperatures indicate that a massive airburst caused by a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere instantaneously destroyed civilization in a 25-kilometer-wide circular plain called Middle Ghor, said archaeologist Phillip Silvia. The event also pushed a bubbling brine of Dead Sea salts over once-fertile farm land, Silvia and his colleagues suspect.

People did not return to the region for 600 to 700 years, said Silvia, of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque.
Perhaps even more intriguingly, this event is being argued as a possible source for the story of Sodom - as one of the towns in the affected blast area has previously been identified with the Biblical town:

Evidence of Sodom? Meteor blast cause of biblical destruction, say scientists

According to a 2013 Biblical Archaeology Review article by TeHEP co-director Dr. Steven Collins, the Tall el-Hammam site is a strong candidate for the biblical city of Sodom due to a multitude of factors.

On the ground at the site, Collins witnessed such destruction first-hand. In a vivid description he writes, “The violent conflagration that ended occupation at Tall el-Hammam produced melted pottery, scorched foundation stones and several feet of ash and destruction debris churned into a dark gray matrix as if in a Cuisinart.”
There's always a need for caution where people may be trying to fit facts around preconceived ideas (common across all of the sciences!) - but what catches my interest is how close this event is to infamous Bronze Age Collapse across the Mediterranean world. Perhaps there's no correlation, but it's still something else to think about. :)


2. Gold Anglo-Saxon helmet reconstructed

An interesting feature on the BBC website about a rare Anglo-Saxon helmet being reconstructed: 'Hoard king's helmet' reconstructed



3. Ancient Egyptian tombs unveiled

The BBC also reports on what sounds like an intact Ancient Egyptian tomb being found - certainly the sarcophagi look pristine: Ancient Egyptian tomb unveiled




4. Viking sword found in Patara, Turkey



An interesting piece of news this week about a Viking sword unearthed in the Turkish city of Patara: Archeologists find Viking sword in southern Turkey

There's more coverage here: Viking sword found in Turkey’s ancient Mediterranean city of Patara

Feyzullah Şahin, a classical archeology professor at Akdeniz University, said that the newly discovered artifact is definitely a Viking sword.

Şahin said the sword is believed to belong to a soldier who fought in naval warfare during the first half of the ninth and 10th centuries and provides a hint into the life of the Vikings who served as mercenaries in the Byzantine army.
It's interesting to note the possibilities of how it got there:

- through trade or theft
- burial of Norse, having traveled from the Black Sea
- one of the Varangian Guard, the bodyguard of the Byzantine Emperors

My favourite is actually the second possibility, but I suspect the third will most likely be argued for.

Bonus! Probably the most famous person from Patara is St. Nicholas - the original one - who used to give money to the poor at Christmas: Saint Nicholas - Wikipedia
 
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Brian G Turner

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Btw, apologies for the confusion - I posted a couple of these stories as separate threads, then realized I may as well merge them into a single one. :)
 

Extollager

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That was very interesting about the meteorite around the Dead Sea, and it'll be interesting if there are followup articles. If those rocks could talk, what a story they would have to tell.
 

Graymalkin

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What do you mean?

That Velikovsky's account was correct? Because even just reading the Wikipedia article, it's pretty clear that there are serious flaws in Velikovsky's theory.
I mention Velikovsky as he's the earliest author - that I've come across anyway - to modernise ancient mythological accounts of sky born catastrophies, tying extra terrestrial forces to fire flood, volcanic activity and general seismic mayhem.

I think even he eventually doubted Venus and Mars as the likely candidates but continued to develop the idea that Earth passes through a near constant cosmic debris field, producing peaks and troughs of intensity or bombardment. One frequency peaking approx every 3,200-3,600 years.

Where's the hard data? I think it's accumulating every time another article like this one comes out. Could be bunkum. Perhaps it was fiery chariots and divine punishments after all. :)
 

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Ok, I am going to do my level best to keep this post in the bounds of Chrons...

What the Sodom article is describing is physical evidence of a firy cataclysmic event which happened almost exactly when and in what location an ancient source describes the exact same event, and the debris discovered (a cluster of cities in a valley) are quite similar to what the source describes. From a historical perspective, that is about as close to proving an event actually occured as possible.

There are still two ways to interpret the Biblical depiction, though. Either it was Bronze Age people ascribing divine power to a natural event, or a situation where God (assuming he/she exists) uses a natural event providentially to accomplish divine purposes. Either is viable, but what is off the table, assuming this article is not a fraud or farce and the evidence holds up, is that the account is nothing but mythology.
 

Heijan Xavier

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#9
God created air-burst meteors on like, the second day of creation; you never know when you might need to wipe out some sinners.
 

thaddeus6th

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#10
The Varangian Guard was what first occurred to me. It amuses me when political commentators refer to a leader or would-be leader's close allies as their 'Praetorian Guard', given the Praetorians probably killed more emperors than they saved.

Heijan, and lo, did the Lord see that much rumpy-pumpy and man-shagging was occurring, and was wrathful. And in his wrath did he fling unto Sodom a meteor, obliterating the city and all who dwelt within. None survived, neither fornicator, nor drunkard, nor any type of sinner. And many also were killed who were innocent, but the Lord spaketh, through his press secretary, and insisted collateral losses were tragically unavoidable.

And lo, the relatives were not hugely comforted.
 

Graymalkin

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It amuses me when political commentators refer to a leader or would-be leader's close allies as their 'Praetorian Guard', given the Praetorians probably killed more emperors than they saved.
Yes. Speaks volumes for the Machiavellian nature of politics.

That Anglo Saxon maned helmet is stunning and looks kind of Roman. I think the same style/image possibly extends back several thousand years to Egyptian images (1200BP) pertaining to the Sea Peoples. I read a suggestion it may have come from Northern Europe way back as there's more evidence for the short ponies with that distinctive erect mane evolving along the eurasian steppe and grasslands of north eastern Europe. Beautiful object either way.
 
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Joshua Jones

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Now, now, Heijan and Thaddeus6th, I was merely attempting to state fairly what possibilities were still on the table for both the Atheist and the Theist, as this research pretty well proves that the story was at least based on something which actually happened. To state which theory I actually hold to would delve into forbidden territory, as (I think) would be defending or attacking one of the possibilities.

That said, your comments were pretty funny. I was waiting for the holy hand grenade or a killer rabbit to show up...
 

Brian G Turner

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I read a suggestion it may have come from Northern Europe way back as there's more evidence for the short ponies with that distinctive erect mane evolving along the eurasian steppe and grasslands of north eastern Europe.
That's really interesting and would make some kind of sense. I'll have to look into that. :)
 

Venusian Broon

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#14
I mention Velikovsky as he's the earliest author - that I've come across anyway - to modernise ancient mythological accounts of sky born catastrophies, tying extra terrestrial forces to fire flood, volcanic activity and general seismic mayhem.

I think even he eventually doubted Venus and Mars as the likely candidates but continued to develop the idea that Earth passes through a near constant cosmic debris field, producing peaks and troughs of intensity or bombardment. One frequency peaking approx every 3,200-3,600 years.

Where's the hard data? I think it's accumulating every time another article like this one comes out. Could be bunkum. Perhaps it was fiery chariots and divine punishments after all. :)
To be fair to the idea, I do think there is a lot more evidence that planets do change orbits, sometimes quite drastically in most solar systems, as some of the exo-planets we have found have quite bizarre orbits. And I see there is some evidence that might suggest mercury has been pulled in closer from further away.

But if they had done so in the past few thousand years, I'd honestly expect evidence in the form of 'defects' or very strange anomalies in the planets orbits or in other smaller asteroids etc. Currently all the planets are, I feel, a bit too 'bedded in'.

As for a constant cosmic debris field...well, if it were that regular, then we should be able to point to a bit of the universe and say 'right, so it must be there! Because we are going to enter it soon...'

Of course there might be a massive Planet X on a very long comet-like orbit that comes in every so often, a la Stitchen. But the less we talk about that snake oil man the better :)
 

Venusian Broon

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Ok, I am going to do my level best to keep this post in the bounds of Chrons...

What the Sodom article is describing is physical evidence of a firy cataclysmic event which happened almost exactly when and in what location an ancient source describes the exact same event, and the debris discovered (a cluster of cities in a valley) are quite similar to what the source describes. From a historical perspective, that is about as close to proving an event actually occured as possible.

There are still two ways to interpret the Biblical depiction, though. Either it was Bronze Age people ascribing divine power to a natural event, or a situation where God (assuming he/she exists) uses a natural event providentially to accomplish divine purposes. Either is viable, but what is off the table, assuming this article is not a fraud or farce and the evidence holds up, is that the account is nothing but mythology.
There's also a theory, very well developed but also perhaps not widely believed, that the area was hit by a cataclysmic earthquake, one that can be shown to have reproduced all the details of the accounts. So you have a variety of different methods to get the destruction of the towns!

Any such natural disaster would have remained long in the memories of the survivors and likely to be recorded in some manner and I feel it is only human to try and make sense of it. You see that today - the Indian Ocean Tsunami had some religious communities stating that it was an act of God because there were too many sinners amongst them etc.

On a sort of related note, regarding ancient cataclysms being recorded in 'Mythology', I do believe that Plato's Atlantis is fictional but built on the distant memories being passed down amongst the Greeks of the destruction of Santorini/Thira and later fall of the Minoan Empire.
 

Venusian Broon

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But our solar system is unusual?
This is actually a tricky question to answer.

The TL;DR - we don't know ;)

Longer answer:

Before we had any inkling of any other planetary systems, armed with an example of one, I'd suggest there was a bias, in the theory of planetary/solar system formation, possibly not actively stated but there non-the-less, that would suggest we were 'normal'.

Now that we are finding exo-planets and the systems they inhabit almost daily, it's clear that all sorts of wild & wonderful combinations actually exist out there. Purely on this sample we are, I'd suggest, 'pretty unusual'.

But

The reason a lot of these 'wild & wonderful' systems are found is because of the extreme make up of said systems. It is because they are extreme - so that we can actually detect the 'wobble' in the star's motion that tells us a very large planet is orbiting it (closely), or that we are just darn lucky - i.e. planets orbit in such a way that they will pass in front of the star as we watch it so that we can detect the dimming (and that the planets are big/close enough to impact the dimming). There's a limit to our current ability to detect such small variations.

I don't know the exact figures, but my guess would be that we'd be pretty hard pressed to actually detect a solar system which had planets roughly in the same place as ours...perhaps if they were our next door neighbours. (?)

So there could be loads of solar systems out there with 'normal Jupiter's/Gas giants', 'Ice giants' and rocky inner planets, looking very like ours, hence making our situation edge towards normality :)

I suppose one could argue that seeing all these much stranger systems teaches us more and more about solar system evolution through actual examples, so perhaps theoretical models of planetary formation will be better and perhaps they could hint at the answer. And, as it seems solar systems are much more dynamic and chaotic than our rather plodding and boring one appeared to be, this is unleashing a lot more interesting ideas about how our solar system actually developed - such as potentially, Mercury's inward journey to it's current position.

However at the end of the day, you'd need to compare theoretical findings with actual ones. So send out the interstellar probes please!
 

RJM Corbet

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#20
This is actually a tricky question to answer.

The TL;DR - we don't know ;)

Longer answer:

Before we had any inkling of any other planetary systems, armed with an example of one, I'd suggest there was a bias, in the theory of planetary/solar system formation, possibly not actively stated but there non-the-less, that would suggest we were 'normal'.

Now that we are finding exo-planets and the systems they inhabit almost daily, it's clear that all sorts of wild & wonderful combinations actually exist out there. Purely on this sample we are, I'd suggest, 'pretty unusual'.

But

The reason a lot of these 'wild & wonderful' systems are found is because of the extreme make up of said systems. It is because they are extreme - so that we can actually detect the 'wobble' in the star's motion that tells us a very large planet is orbiting it (closely), or that we are just darn lucky - i.e. planets orbit in such a way that they will pass in front of the star as we watch it so that we can detect the dimming (and that the planets are big/close enough to impact the dimming). There's a limit to our current ability to detect such small variations.

I don't know the exact figures, but my guess would be that we'd be pretty hard pressed to actually detect a solar system which had planets roughly in the same place as ours...perhaps if they were our next door neighbours. (?)

So there could be loads of solar systems out there with 'normal Jupiter's/Gas giants', 'Ice giants' and rocky inner planets, looking very like ours, hence making our situation edge towards normality :)

I suppose one could argue that seeing all these much stranger systems teaches us more and more about solar system evolution through actual examples, so perhaps theoretical models of planetary formation will be better and perhaps they could hint at the answer. And, as it seems solar systems are much more dynamic and chaotic than our rather plodding and boring one appeared to be, this is unleashing a lot more interesting ideas about how our solar system actually developed - such as potentially, Mercury's inward journey to it's current position.

However at the end of the day, you'd need to compare theoretical findings with actual ones. So send out the interstellar probes please!
Thank you. Yes it's reasonable to understand that our instruments and more likely to detect large planets close to their own sun, than smaller ones. It's still new and difficult and only about a dozen years ago not a single planet outside our own solar system had yet been detected.

Still, our solar system leaves a huge lot of questions still to be answered. We speculate but probably truly understand not a lot of what was really happening during its formation?
 

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