» Home > In the News

The Plight of Holocene Impact Theories – and the Role of Sodom in the Bible

13 January 2014

At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tollmann’s_hypothetical_bolide … Tollmann and Tollmann (man and wife) in 1994 proposed the idea that an asteroid or comet struck Earth at 7640BC and again in 3150BC there was something similar, but the idea has never been accepted by other scientists. Emilio Spedicato of Bergamo University in Italy included an article by the Tollmanns in a conference proceedings in the 1990s but the idea has never been accepted by scientists at large. In fact, the Tollmanns faced the same kind of obdurate counter arguments that have dogged the Younger Dryas Boundary event group of catastrophists. One of these revolved around dates – especially evidence of tsunami deposits and other geological oddities such as salt lakes, and acidity spikes in ice cores. The latter idea has especially become an established 'factoid' of the mainstream consensus – acidity spikes are solely due to volcanoes. It is an attitude that has consistently foiled Holocene comet/asteroid theories, and various studies on the possibility of impacts and atmospheric airbursts. In addition, the idea of geologists accepting the idea of tsunami waves penetrating deep inland is unlikely ever to take off. There is plenty of evidence of tsunami waves in the geological record over millions of years but these are invariably ascribed to encroaching sea scapes – not tidal waves.

None of these arguments are unsurprising but in 2008 Alan Bond, a rocket scientist, and Martin Hempsell, an engineer at Bristol University (also involved in the development of rocket and aeroplane engines) wrote a book that claimed to have decyphered a Sumerian clay tablet which was inscribed with some kind of astronomical scenario – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Bond_(rocket_developer). The tablet is known as 'the planisphere' and they say it dates back to around 3000BC – and not only that, they say it portrays a comet or asteroid on a collision course with the Earth (see also http://phys.org/print126183668.html). Funnily enough, one of the major arguments used against Bond and Hempsell is the dates of the Tollmanns. In the case of the Tollmann hypothesis the date of 7640BC was decried but in the deconstruction of the Bond and Hempsell theory they are derided for sticking to the 3000BC period and dropping the 7640BC dating. On the face of it, a bit of hypocrisy. On the back of it, anything is used to debunk such ideas as proposed by the rocket scientist. Once again, it is the lack of an impact crater that is seen as the biggest impediment – as it was in the YDB event hypothesis. Airbursts are studiously ignored. 

Basically, Bond and Hempsell resurrected the Tollmanns impact site, at Kofels in the Austrian Alps, where an unusual landslip occurred. To start with, we may note some geologists have made a name for themselves by claiming the landslip was due to terrestrial causes – without requiring a cosmic body in any shape or form (in spite of the discovery of impact glass). On top of that Bond and Hempsell appear to have made the mistake of mentioning a Biblical catastrophe, suggesting a similarity with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In discussion threads that ensued on the Internet and elsewhere this brought out of the wood work all kinds of weird nut jobs, from homosexual apologists to anti-religious bigots, and none of it involved a debate on cosmic bodies breaching the atmosphere of the Earth. The homosexual argument is particularly off beam as nobody can seriously believe Sodom was really overpopulated by people with non-heterosexual tendencies and appetites. Its destruction, by an angel of the Lord, was used as a device by people opposed to male on male relationships, at some stage in the development of the text of the Bible – or at some stage in the cultural development of the region, come to that, as it is still prevalent – long after the Jews were expelled by the Romans. The actual account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah stands independently from the prejudice. The latter has persisted all the way down into the modern world. It may even be quite late (but unlikely) coming about as a result of antipathy towards the ruling Greek element in the population of the Near East (including Egypt) in the Ptolemaic period. The Greeks had a much freer attitude towards homosexuality and this appears to have offended many of their subjects – which included the Jews, and various others with a point of view including Islam where it still has strong resonance. The original story would not have involved the sexual habits of the inhabitants – but some kind of justification in the eyes of God was necessary to dredge out of the destruction. Homosexuality became the activity that God was supposed to have objected to – something must have caused him to send his angel (the instrument of God). Angels were sky objects – sky objects that periodically interacted with the Earth and its inhabitants. What better way of describing a bolide.

Unfortunately, the Bond and Hempsell hypothesis was disassembled very quickly – but you can still buy the book (self published, another cardinal sin in the eyes of its detractors), Bond and Hempsell, 'A Sumerian Observation of the Kofel's Impact Event' (2008) Writersprintshop, ISBN 1-904623-64-6

There is no doubt that many Christians, when the new religion inherited the Bible, have over the years sincerely believed in God's ban on homosexuality – and people still do. The impression is given that the cities of the Plain were a nest of iniquity that had been destroyed by God solely for that reason. Common sense dictates the destruction came first and the reasons were dreamt up afterwards – possibly long afterwards. This sort of thing can be deduced as occurring after the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians, and the transfer of people from one part of the empire to another. God must have been displeased – but what had people done to warrant such an abandonment (the gods were tribal protectors), and this occurs again following the same treatment meted out to Judah and its people by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (with a revamped religion returning with the Exiles following the Persian decree of Cyrus). The returning exiles had created an explanation for why God had abandoned them and allowed them to be taken into bondage (and so on), and this version may have been imposed on the peasant population that had remained behind. Biblical editors could have expunged Sodom from history – could this be why Tell al-Hammam is not mentioned in the conquest narrative. If the New Chronology, and various other revisions have any kind of veracity, there is a distinct problem. Joshua records the overthrow of Jericho in a massive earthquake (that involved blasts on trumpets, or a great tumult) and yet he fails to mention the cities of the Plain that appear to have been destroyed at the same time (the end of MBIII). Jericho actually sits on the edge of that Plain – the Kikkar. Whatever destroyed the cities of the Kikkar also brought about the overthrow of Jericho – and in the wake of that destruction, the Israelites (and Habiru groups) would have been able to pass over into the Cisjordan. Forget the religious gloss – the story is specific. It is a tradition that was absorbed into the Biblical narrative.

We may wonder if the Joshua narrative has been changed or edited at a later date – the destruction of the cities and villages of the Kikkar omitted from one account but remaining in an earlier tradition, left to stand – as it provided a religiously orientated message (sodomy is frowned upon). The reasons for that may have a connection with the idea they were inherently 'evil in the eyes of the Lord' – why else would he have sent an angel from out of the clear blue sky to destroy them? Indeed, it is one of those ironies of western culture that the priesthood has always attracted homosexually orientated individuals. The reason for this is easy to perceive as celibacy provided them with a refuge – and stopped the pointing fingers. Celibacy could even be viewed as a form of punishment for having such 'ungodly' urges – and so on.

It could also be argued fairly well that the people of Palestine, even during the first millennium BC, were essentially the Canaanites. Why else do Canaanite genealogies take pride of place. After the fall of Samaria the Deuteronomists fled south into Judah and it is at this point we see a change in the religion, an abandonment of Mosaic cult practises etc., the overthrow of high altars (on hills and mountains) and idols (that formerly were an integral part of religious tradition). The context of this is the shock of invasion, defeat, punishment by God, and removal of large numbers of people from the land they had occupied for generations. The Judges and early Biblical narrative mighgt be viewed from that perspective – a Canaanite tradition. Some of those Canaanites became the Deuteronomists and eventually the religion of Yahweh dominated the whole of the region. The temple at Jerusalem became the main focus. Hence, if the Biblical narrative was edited by a Deuteronomist as thought by some scholars and theologians, the historicity was probably manipulated to a degree. That is perhaps one way to look at it – and one way to perceive some of the miraculous Biblical tales. Real events that were eheumerised (godly feats re-interpreted in human terms) – somewhat like the Greek myths of gods and giants etc.

It's all guesswork of course – but one way of trying to untangle it all. Returning to the Bond and Hempsell hypothesis we may note it generated a lot of criticism – see for example http://bluecollarscientist.com. This is a blog somewhat like Bad Astronomy where a defender of the faith mainstream guy sets himself up with the specific aim of debunking everything that contradicts the consensus view – in this case, anything out of the ordinary concerning meteorites and asteroids. Like most of the others that do this kind of thing they never actually read what is said in the book or the article – they see red and get very angry after a news blurb released by a publisher or a university or wherever. This is what happened here – as the blog author even admits he has not read the book, yet seemed to think this was rational behaviour. He even describes the two rocket scientists as 'amateurs' – bumbling into subjects they have no right to interfere. Asteroid watchers know more than two rocket scientists apparently – even if he has only observed comets and asteroids in a telescope. I'm fully expert in the subject he assures his readers – even though his main job in life is as a journalist writing tall tales for magazines such as 'Sky and Telescope', quite unable to appreciate the fact Bond and Hempsell are people that actually do things, make things, and invent things – not just talk about things they have observed as distant objects in the sky. Engineers are hands on – journalists waffle. Bond was involved in the Blue Streak rocket, the HOTOL project, and together they were involved in the development of Rolls Royce engine technology yet some guy who calls himself 'blue collar scientist' (whatever that might mean) feels free to ridicule them, without reading their book and without discussing the idea of impacts and cosmic bodies interacting with the Earth. His fellowship of loonies appear to think that is fair game – and of course the mention of Sodom has them performing wonderfully and predictably.

Bond and Hempsell very probably made a mistake by trying to identify an impact site – and choosing Kofels. However, it turns out the reference to Sodom was not as important as it was made out to be. For some reason the media like to jump on any Biblical connection. You can't have a discussion about flooding without involving Noah, and you can't have a discussion about cosmic bodies exploding without invoking Sodom (and so on). What Bond and Hempsell said was that there were 20 or so ancient records of destruction of the type theorised in their hypothesis. This included the Biblical tale and the oft quoted myth of Phaethon, son of Helios, who took the reins of the sun chariot and crashed it. See www.foxnews.com/story/2008/04/01/researchers-asteroid-destroyed-sodom-an…

We learn at this site that Bond and Hempsell used computer programme to recreate the night sky in 3123BC, and they claim the Sumerian watching the sky refferred to the hypothetical asteroid as 'a white stone bowl' (which may indicate a conical shape akin to a comet head, or any kind of meteor running through the atmosphere). Half of the symbols on the tablet are missing – so the Planisphere is not the full record of whatever it was that was seen in the sky. The symbols are interpreted as stars and star clusters (constellations) – and clouds. It was discovered by Henry Layard in the library of the palace at Nineveh and nobody as yet, has decyphered the tablet satisfactorily. Blue Collar's rant would claim otherwise – but he merely quote a few books that have attempted to make sense of what is on the tablet. What Bond and Hempsell did was to try and calculate the trajectory of said object – not an easy task given the symbols do not have absolute meanings (and are subject to speculation). They think it was heading towards the west and was on target to collide with the Alps – which is where the Tollmanns impact theory comes in (ready made as an addition).

Contrary to Blue Collar Scientist the period around 3000BC is associated with some kind of climate changing event – as any history book will reveal. It is also the period separating the Pre-Dynastic period from the Old Kingdom of Egypt, a period in which a heavenly bull god, Min, played an active role (and we all know the heavenly bull was associated with the constellation of Taurus, and in Egypt with the north, and the constellation of the Big Dipper, as well). The bull of heaven also occurs in Sumeria as Enlil – and dominates the religion of the region in the third millennium BC. At http://ancientworldblog.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_archive.html we are told that writing is found in Sumeria from 4000BC (presumably from Uruk). One of the major points made by Blue Collar was that the Sumerians only used writing for commercial reasons – counting and collating goods and services. Okay, lots of economic texts have been found on clay tablets but the above site claims symbols appearing in early writing have an origin in astronomical features, which is exactly the opposite of Blue Collar who would have merchants developing writing solely for the purpose of their activities (counting tokens). In fact, Blue Collar even goes so far as to say there is no evidence the Sumerians knew anything about constellations or astronomy, and these things only came in during the later Babylonian era.

At http://historicconnections.webs.com/mesopotamia.htm … on page 16 of 21 there is an image of the tablet. It is described as a reproduction of a Sumerian star map or planisphere unearthed from the library of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal. Computer analysis has matched it with the sky above Mesopotamia during a much earler, Sumerian, period. At http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page11-9.html … we have a black and white sketch of the tablet – and its surviving symbols. It consists of a circle divided by 8 radial lines or 45 degree sectors = defining 8 stellar sectors of 45 degrees. Some 40 per cent is missing. Star figues are found in 6 of the 8 sectors. The names of sky gods are also written in addtition to the constellation names. The tablet has proved difficult to translate. In 1989, a German study claimed it showed the sky in around 650BC (midway through the reign of Ashurbanipal). The web site describes some of the problems and then goes on to critically appraise the Bond and Hempsell hypothesis. What becomes obvious is that the tablet, if it does show an astronomical event of some kind, may not date to around 3000bc, and theoretically could belong anywhere before 650BC. While it may be a fact that Bond and Hempsell have over egged their hypothesis, the book is just that – a theory. The fact that cosmic impacts or airbursts are simply not on the agenda of a lot of people only means the subject is never discussed rationally. We know there was a cosmic event in 1908 (Tunguska) and a meteor the size of a bus exploded over Russia (in 2013) and yet the debate is stifled. Why? Lots of other meteors on a comparable scale to Chelyabinsk have happened over the last couple of hundred years – and these things were invariably recorded as visitations by dragons and the like before that. The Tollmanns were dismissed and so too were Bond and Hempsell. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were right in the detail but it is a fact the same kind of arguments are currently being levelled against the Younger Dryas Boundary event team – and it makes me wonder. What is it that mainstream doesn't want us to know? Is it that it casts aspersions upon uniformitarianism – or do they really think Joe Public cannot live with a threat from space. That doesn't make sense.


Skip to content