On March 3rd, the BBC2 Horizon programme, aired 'The Truth About Meteors' provoked by the recent Russian meteor light show on February 15th, as it exploded over the Ural Mountains with the force of 20 Hiroshima bombs. The meteor was off the radar of astronomers who had eyeballs trained on another space rock that passed between the Moon and the Earth, but way above the amosphere. Therefore, there was some surprise when this one popped out of the woodwork, and at first we were told it was just a meteor. Well, meteors strike the atmosphere on a regular basis, but this one was as big as a large building – a really big space rock. One thousand people were injured, mainly by shattering glass following a series of atmospheric detonations. People also experienced a phase of intense heat prior to the explosion, as the object became brighter and brighter, so bright that people had to avert their eyes. It was painful looking up at it. The cluster of detonations occurred as the object shattered into fragments and immediately the search was on for a piece of the meteorite, a job made easier by the snow on the ground (fragments found by looking for the holes in the snow).
The programme made a comparison with the Tunguska event in 1908 but didn't mention any other meteor fall even though some have been equally brilliant. This one had the benefit of video recordings made from cameras on mobile phones. The Tunguska object also created intense heat and it emerged that scientists had been somewhat sceptical of this aspect even though it snapped trees just above ground level and flattened a wide swather of taiga forest in Siberia.
In the latest incident scientists cannot ignore the intense heat as so many witnesses mentioned the fact. In all likelihood the Tunguska object was even bigger than the Russian meteor and it may have exploded much nearer to the ground. Iain Stewart could only treat the subject lightly, without delving too much into the history of these things. There was the schedule and time angle, that was restrictive, and with all that video footage and lots of interviews with observers these were given precedence by the programme makers, which is understandable. It was a good programme, drawing on a current event, and scientists responded quickly, and the promise is they will come up with further interesting facts as time allows. A part two could have explored previous meteor visitations as it was a trifle disappointing that nobody tried to take this event back into history.
One can see how the Phaethon myth came about, a bright sun like object racing across the sky – even the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These things, so often dismissed as the product of the imagination of half wits in the past, and generally dumbed down by the likes of the self elected appointees of mainstream science, have suddenly found some credence. Should the subject be given a bigger platform? Well, nobody wants a re-run of the big scary story scenario. CAGW alarmism was so unlikely almost everyone treats it as a complete joke. It's probably best not to dwell too much on possibilities in the future but past visitations by the sky gods seems relatively harmless. After all, we're still here, safe as houses … the world did not come to an end. This is in fact what we have been doing at SIS since 1974, when catastrophic encounters with cosmic objects was largely an unknown territory. We even had a conference on the subject, at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge, in 1997, on cosmic events as they affected the Bronze Ages.
On May 11th this year Mike Baillie will address our AGM meeting on the subject of cosmic events that have occurred more recently. In 776ad and 1258ad, for example, and the Russian meteor will probably feature too. A tie in with Claude Schaeffer and his earthquake storms is a missing part of the meteor account – no tectonic features reported so far. Amos Nur presented a poster display on earthquakes based on Schaeffer's work (in 1997) which appears to have been a feature of the Bronze Age events – but not of Tunguska or the Russian meteor. However, the latter visitation was perhaps small beer in comparison with what happened in the Bronze Ages. We actually have a few lines of text that describe the 'star Anat' racing through the sky and exploding over Libya – causing bones inside peoples bodies to cook. This is a well known inscription to Egyptologists and comes from the reign of Merenptah, son and successor of Ramesses II. What the star Anat did, apart from killing a lot of people as if they had been put in a microwave oven, was cause panic amongst the Libyans, and Egypt was overrun by refugees.
Shortly afterwards dynasty 19 collapsed and the Late Bronze world entered a period of unrest, drought and famine, reduced population and economic stagnation. Ramesses III, the most prominent king of dynasty 20, was faced by another horde of refugees, from the Aegean and Anatolia. He defeated those who arrived by boat, destroying them in the delta, and brought the refugees in their ox drawn carts, with families and belongings (depicted at Medinet Habu) somewhere in Palestine (nominally within an Egyptian empire at the time). They were allowed to settle in Canaan. However, the inscription is telling as it informs us that 'the flame was prepared before them …' which could well be a reference to the star Anat or a different fireball event, 20 or so years later. This event coincided with the collapse and disappearance of the Hittite Empire, and the collapse of Mycenaean Greece. Indeed, the collapse of the Late Bronze world (in the Near and Middle East).
Another speaker at the SIS Cambridge conference (1997) was Marie Agnes Courty, and George Howard, at http://cosmictusk.com/cosmic-soils-in-human-history-marie-agnes-courtys-… has a link where you can download and print out an article archived at Archaeopress. It is 'The Soil Record of an Exceptional Event at 4000BP in the Middle East' and is ongoing research in the interim (since the conference). Her work is confined to an event towards the end of the third millennium BC, when something extraordinary brought first Dynastic Sumeria to a close, and around 150 years later, the empire of Akkad. She is convinced it had a cosmic dimension and has spent a lot of time in Syria taking soil samples and analysing them, rock fragments from different geological formations, sifting out rounded spherules and vesicular glassy grains in support of her theory. She claims the glassy grains have an origin in vapourised rock (intense heat) and this is precisely what was associated with the Russian meteor and the Siberian object (Tunguska). The article is 16 pages long in PDF format and one for saving away with your cherished papers and journals. Again, the cosmic object may have created an earthquake storm (Schaeffer and Nur) which appears to be a missing piece of the puzzle.