CCNet 49/2002 - 17 April 2002
"New research that accounts for gaps in the fossil record challenges
traditional methods of interpreting fossils and constructing evolutionary
trees. Applying a new statistical approach to primates demonstrates
that this group -from which humans developed- originated 85 million
years ago rather than 65 Mya, as is widely accepted. This revision has
implications throughout the evolutionary tree of primates. Key findings from
the new approach to interpreting the fossil record include: Primates
originated while dinosaurs still roamed the earth. This challenges the
accepted theory that primates could not establish a foothold until
at the end of the Cretaceous (65 Mya) when an asteroid cleared the way by
hitting the earth and wiping out dinosaurs."
--PR Newswire, 17 April 2002
"Today is Budget Day in the UK, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer
announces his plans for government spending (and taxation) over the next
year. It has also been made public today that in the last financial
year for which figures are available (2000/01), the Department of Trade
and Industry (DTI) underspent its funding allocation by TWENTY PERCENT.
[...] The amount of money needed to implement ALL the recommendations of the
UK NEO Task Force and fund the necessary work over the next twenty years
is a fraction of the huge amount that the DTI failed to spend,
contrary to the government's instructions."
--anonymous British correspondent, 17 April 2002
(1) MORE ON 1950 DA
Jon Giorgini <email@example.com>
(2) HISTORY-MAKING NAVIGATORS WIN AWARD
Ron Baalke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(3) SCIENTISTS PUSH BACK PRIMATE ORIGINS FROM 65 TO 85 MILLION YEARS AGO
PR Newswire, 17 April 2002
(4) HAWAII, TOMBSTONE OF THE DINOSAURS
RD Brown <email@example.com>
(5) HYDROGEN-FED BACTERIA MAY EXIST BEYOND EARTH
Steven Zoraster <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(6) BUDGETARY MISMANAGEMENT AND LACK OF NEO FUNDING IN THE UK
(7) YELLOW EMPEROR & DRAGONS
Bob Kobres <email@example.com>
(8) WORKNOTES ON MAN IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST AND IMPACT EVENTS
E.P. Grondine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(1) MORE ON 1950 DA
>From Jon Giorgini <email@example.com>
To follow up on the April 5 CCNet, I enclose the actual abstract of the
paper on 1950 DA. The version posted April 5 was NOT, in fact, the abstract.
The full paper as published in Science (PDF format) can now be retrieved
from a link on the 1950 DA web page:
... which also has radar movies and Monte Carlo animations.
This case is rich in the sense of there being many different aspects to it.
For example, in addition to the impact potential in 2880, 1950 DA's orbital
uncertainty region is modulated by resonance. That is, the extent of the
uncertainty region doesn't exceed 20000 km (~2 Earth diameters) for the next
600+ years. Resonance instead causes it to oscillate over the centuries.
This resonance effect can be seen in animation #5 at the above web site.
There is the idea of a probability range (instead of a single value);
unknown physical parameters (spin, surface thermal conductibity, etc.)
potentially bias the whole uncertainty region.
There is the influence of factors not considered in previous cases (because
the quality of the data was so poor it wasn't worthwhile): solar pressure,
galactic tides, perturbations due to thousands of other asteroids, heat
emission, solar oblateness, uncertainties in the masses of the planets, and
the role imprecision in computer hardware doing the calculations might play.
There is the non-linear gravitational "amplification" of these small
factors, which turns such minor issues into things that make the difference
between predicting a hit or a miss.
The case especially illustrates the value of planetary radar; 1950 DA's
impact potential was detected when the asteroid's position and velocity were
measured by Goldstone at the 10's of meters and millimeter per second level.
Such measurements routinely open up prediction windows 5-10 times greater in
extent than with optical data. There is the issue of when (or even if) a
conclusive yes/noo impact prediction for any object can be made without
radar data and the length of buffer that it allows.
This may seem obvious, but with the future of planetary radar opaque at the
moment, it needs to be said. (Even after the 1950 DA detection, Arecibo and
Goldstone were ordered to end their asteroid activities (Arecibo with 3
weeks notice over the holidays) -- only to have the directives later
rescinded. The post-October future is currently unknown.)
The case of 1950 DA differs from previous hazard predictions. For past cases
(and now likely to be the case for all future situations), a risk was
detected based on a few days or weeks of data for a newly discovered object.
The uncertainty region that surrounds an object then is large, sometimes
spanning a big chunk of the inner solar system. Additional measurements
made a few days or weeks later shrink the region such that the Earth falls
out of it and the risk drops to near zero. This is normal and expected.
Although other (currently unknown) asteroids may hit before 2880, the
situation with 1950 DA is likely to be unique for future detections;
observations spanning 51 years coupled with high-precision radar data.
Future ground-based observations over years and decades are unlikely to
change the prediction of 1950 DA unless adequate physical knowledge of it is
While 878 years is a long time in the future, hundreds of years of warning
is exactly what we should want, since a year or two (or 10 seconds, like the
dinosaurs), leaves few if any options. With hundreds of years of warning
there are many options.
Some might argue mitigation can be left to the future. This assumes a
uniform progression of technology. Others might note that although Apollo
landed on the Moon several times 30 years ago, there is no longer the
infrastructure and will to do something similar in the present. Things are
not always "onward and upward".
Thus it's interesting to consider how altering physical properties -- the
way an object reflects and absorbs light -- using present methods can be
used to mitigate hazards. Andrea Milani first proposed powdered sugar while
seated around a table last June in Palermo (I recall a table of pastries in
sight during a break), when the case of 1950 DA was introduced at that time.
I like the idea of collapsing a solar sail mission spacecraft around; encasing it
in a reflective substance. While the future may have better solutions,
that's not a certainty.
Asteroid 1950 DA's Encounter with Earth in 2880: Physical Limits of
Collision Probability Prediction
J. D. Giorgini, S. J. Ostro, L. A. M. Benner, P. W. Chodas, S. R. Chesley,
R. S. Hudson, M. C. Nolan, A. R. Klemola, E. M. Standish, R. F. Jurgens, R.
Rose, A. B. Chamberlin, D. K. Yeomans, J.-L. Margot
Integration of the orbit of asteroid (29075) 1950 DA, which is based on
radar and optical measurements spanning 51 years, reveals a 20-minute
interval in March 2880 when there could be a nonnegligible probability of
the 1-kilometer object colliding with Earth. Trajectory knowledge remains
accurate until then because of extensive astrometric data, an inclined orbit
geometry that reduces in-plane perturbations, and an orbit uncertainty space
modulated by gravitational resonance. The approach distance uncertainty in
2880 is determined primarily by uncertainty in the accelerations arising
from thermal re-radiation of solar energy absorbed by the asteroid. Those
accelerations depend on the spin axis, composition, and surface properties
of the asteroid, so that refining the collision probability may require
direct inspection by a spacecraft.
(2) HISTORY-MAKING NAVIGATORS WIN AWARD
>From Ron Baalke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Martha J. Heil (818) 354-0850
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 16, 2002
HISTORY-MAKING NAVIGATORS WIN AWARD
The team that made history last year by navigating a spacecraft to a
remarkably safe landing on an asteroid received a laureate prize today from
Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.
Dr. Bobby G. Williams of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.,
accepted the laureate's award for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission
navigation team at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
"Working on the project has been the high point of my career," said
Williams. "A maneuver like this had never been done before - our team had to
go back to school and rethink the way we do things."
On February 12, 2001, the spacecraft was coaxed into a soft landing on the
surface of asteroid Eros. "The feat of landing on a body with only
one-thousandth of Earth's gravity was all
the more remarkable given that the spacecraft was not designed to land at
all, " said James Asker, Washington bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space
The team included navigators from both JPL and the mission's managing
center, Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. Besides
landing the spacecraft, the navigation
team recorded many firsts, accomplishments that will be recounted in the
April 29, 2002 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.
In addition to navigating the first spacecraft to come close to and orbit
around an asteroid, the navigation team also added orbits that were not part
of the original plan, once brushing by the asteroid just 2.7 kilometers
(about 1.7 miles) from the surface so that scientists could get more data
about the space rock.
The JPL navigation team included James K. Miller, Peter J. Antreasian, Cliff
E. Helfrich, William M. Owen, Jr., Eric Carranza, Steven R. Chesley,
Tseng-Chan Wang, Jon D. Giorgini, and John J. Bordi.
More information on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission is available
Launched on Feb. 17, 1996, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission was
the first in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost planetary missions. The
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory designed and built the spacecraft. The mission team includes
members from JPL as well as Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; University of
Maryland, College Park; Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Cambridge; University of Arizona, Tucson; the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center,
Boulder, Colo.; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; NASA's
Solar Data Analysis Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Malin Space Science Systems
Inc., San Diego, Calif.; Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas.;
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; University of California, Los
Angeles; Catholic University, Washington, D.C.; Computer Sciences
Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.; and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry,
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages many
space missions for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington D.C.
(3) SCIENTISTS PUSH BACK PRIMATE ORIGINS FROM 65 TO 85 MILLION YEARS AGO
>From PR Newswire, 17 April 2002
CAUTION -- ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 1 P.M. EST WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17
Copyright ©2002 PR Newswire Association Inc. All Rights Reserved. A United
Business Media company. Distributed by FluentMedia, a service of Tribune
Media Services. Copyright ©2002 by Tribune Media Services.
Field Museum Scientist Challenges Accepted Theories, Dating Methods
ADVANCE/CHICAGO, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- New research that accounts for
gaps in the fossil record challenges traditional methods of interpreting
fossils and constructing evolutionary trees. Applying a new statistical
approach to primates demonstrates that this group-from which humans
developed- originated 85 million years ago rather than 65 Mya, as is widely
This revision has implications throughout the evolutionary tree of primates.
Key findings from the new approach to interpreting the fossil record
* Primates originated while dinosaurs still roamed the earth. This
challenges the accepted theory that primates could not establish a foothold
until at the end of the Cretaceous (65 Mya) when an asteroid cleared the way
by hitting the earth and wiping out dinosaurs.
* If times of divergence within the primate tree are revised accordingly,
humans probably diverged from chimps about 8 Mya rather than 5 Mya.
* Using the fossil record to date the origin of any group for which the
fossil record is sparse (including other mammals, such as bats) is
"Current interpretations of primate and human evolution are flawed because
paleontologists have relied too heavily on direct interpretation of the
known fossil record," says Robert D. Martin, VP academic affairs at The
Field Museum and co-author of the research published in Nature April 18.
The research has ramifications throughout paleontology, anthropology and
primatology and requires rewriting the story of primate evolution. For
example, if primates originated 85 Mya, then continental drift that broke up
Gondwanaland probably contributed to primate divergence.
Existing primates divided into six subgroups: lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, New
World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and apes and humans. Their 85-million-
year-old earliest common ancestor probably looked like a primitive, small-
brained version of today's dwarf lemur, Martin says.
That animal would probably have been nocturnal and tree-living, weighing 1-2
pounds, with grasping hands and feet. It probably had large forward-facing
eyes for stereovision. It inhabited tropical/subtropical forests, feeding on
a mixed diet composed mainly of fruit and insects. Like humans, it probably
had a slow breeding pace characterized by heavy investment in a small number
(4) HAWAII, TOMBSTONE OF THE DINOSAURS
>From RD Brown <email@example.com>
AGU 2002 Spring Meeting
TI: Hawaii, Tombstone of the Dinosaurs, Part 2: The Bend in the HEC
AU: * Brown, R D
AF: Pelorus Research Laboratory, 105 South 18th Street, Ord, NE 68862 United
The bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor Chain has recently been attributed to a
1500km motion of the Hawaiian hotpot from a more polar latitude to its
present position during times more ancient than 43 Ma. Such motion is
explained if one assumes that the hotspot is the result of an iron asteroid
that embedded in Earth's upper mantle and gravitated to the CMB along a path
determined by the gravitational effects of Earth's equatorial bulge. The
heuristic value of this idea is large because it provides a single
explanation for the following observations: 1. Why there is a bend in the
HEC. The mass of Earth's equatorial bulge would have caused the impactor to
gravitate toward an axial point south of Earth's center. The gravitational
effect of the bulge is maximal at 45N latitude and the recent studies
indicate that the impactor hit ocean slightly north of 39.7N. Friction
associated with the asteroid's downward and southward motion would have
produced a rising train of mantle materials (the Emperor portion of the
HEC). The bend occurred when the asteroidal mass reached the core-mantle
boundary. The asteroidal mass now resides on the mantle side of the CMB. It
continues, however, to slowly move toward a more equatorial position as a
consequence of Earth's equatorial bulge, this being the reason that the
seamounts of the Hawaiian chain are slightly angled relative to the WNW
direction of motion of the Pacific plate. 2. Why the magma generated by the
Hawaiian hotspot is siderophile-enriched relative to Pacific rim volcanos.
The iron impactor was not extensively dispersed throughout the mantle or
atmosphere following its collision with Earth. Throughout its downward
migration through the mantle (and presently at the CMB) frictional heating
associated with its motions produced the magma of the HEC volcanoes, which
includes material eroded from the impactor. 3. Why the Hawaiian hotspot has
continued to function as a significant heat source for the past 43 Ma.
Differential rotation of the core vis-a-vis the mantle causes the asteroidal
mass to tumble at the core-mantle boundary. Rotational deformation and
electromagnetic coupling between Earth's main magnetic field and the
impactor-iron generates excess heat at this location. 4. Why the Sr87/86
ratios increase in going from Suiko to the bend and remain constant
thereafter. The strontium ratios reflect the motions of the asteroid's
downward movement through the mantle and its fixed depth since the bend. 5.
Why there is a circular ring of mountains (Rockies, Central America, Andes,
trans-Antarctic, Australian Rise, Indonesia and Philippine Islands, East
Asian Rise, the Kolymas, Japanese Islands, Brooks, Mackenzie's) that were
centered on the Hawaiian impact site circa 65 Ma. The primary shock front
associated with the original impact would have been reflected away from the
impact site by the curvature of the Earth's core. As a consequence, the
impactor's main mass is not extensively disrupted by rebound effects that
would otherwise cause its dissolution. While the position of the circular
ring of mountains is determined by the geometry of the core-reflected shock
front punching up from beneath the continental plates, the greater portion
of the orogenic energy is attributed to the impact-catalyzed release of
stress-coupled stored tectonic energy (due to plate motions occurring prior
to the impact). See: Hawaii: Tombstone of the Dinosaurs, RD Brown, Eos 75:
418 (1994) 6. This model explains why the greatest terrain and faunal damage
at the KT boundary occurred in the western portions of NA and the eastern
portions of Asia, a distribution not explained by the Yucatan impact.
Twinning of asteroids is common.
DE: 3040 Plate tectonics (8150, 8155, 8157, 8158)
DE: 3210 Modeling
DE: 5420 Impact phenomena (includes cratering)
DE: 1600 GLOBAL CHANGE (New category)
DE: 1630 Impact phenomena
MN: 2002 Spring Meeting
(5) HYDROGEN-FED BACTERIA MAY EXIST BEYOND EARTH
>From Steven Zoraster <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Readers of CCNET may be interested in the following NASA press release that
has not received as much attention in the non-scientific press as it
April 3, 2002
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000
HYDROGEN-FED BACTERIA MAY EXIST BEYOND EARTH
Primitive bacteria exist in huge numbers deep in the Earth, living on
hydrogen gas produced in rocks, a NASA scientist reports in the spring issue
of the journal Astrobiology.
Recent studies suggest that the mass of bacteria existing below ground may
be larger than the mass of all living things at the Earth's surface,
according to recent studies cited by the paper's lead author, Friedemann
Freund, who works at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon
Valley. Similar hydrogen-consuming microbes may some day be discovered on
Mars, raising new prospects for the possible existence of life beyond Earth,
"The hydrogen that could feed bacteria in the depth of the Earth comes from
a subtle chemical reaction that occurs within rocks that were once hot or
even molten. In the top 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of Earth's crust," Freund
said, "the conditions are right to produce a nearly inexhaustible supply of
hydrogen. In the top 5 to 10 kilometers (about 3 to 6 miles) all fissures
and cracks in the rocks are probably filled with water. Hydrogen molecules
will seep out of the mineral grains, enter the intergranular space and
saturate the water. Microorganisms that live in these water films can be
expected to use this hydrogen as their vital energy source."
Many of the microorganisms in the 'deep biosphere' do not live off the
sunlight-derived energy that green plants trap during photosynthesis, but
live on chemically derived energy sources such as hydrogen, according to
Freund. "If deep microbial communities are to thrive over long periods of
time, they need a steady supply of hydrogen," he said.
It has long been known that hydrogen gas is produced when water reaches
freshly formed cracks in many common rocks, but Freund's paper describes a
different hydrogen-producing reaction that occurs inside the minerals that
make up such rocks. This reaction does not require rocks to crack - a
necessarily episodic event. Instead, it occurs in the entire rock volume
during its gradual cooling as continents slowly age over millions of years.
Because the Earth's crust contains a huge quantity of rock, even a small
amount of hydrogen produced in each small section of rock results in a large
volume of gas.
To understand the details of this hydrogen-producing reaction, Freund said,
requires some insight into the structure of minerals where silicon, oxygen
and metals have combined to form a dense pack of atoms and ions. When these
minerals crystallize at high temperatures, water is always present, and some
water molecules are trapped in the atomic structure of the minerals, said
Freund. These water molecules are ripped apart and change into hydroxyl
anions, each of which is negatively charged and has one oxygen ion with a
"During cooling, at temperatures below 400 to 500 degrees C (752 to 932
degrees F), a strange reaction takes place. Pairs of these hydroxyl anions
rearrange their electrons in such a way that hydrogen gas molecules are
formed," Freund said.
What is unusual and still not fully understood, said Freund, is that the
electrons needed to make the hydrogen molecules are taken away from
negatively charged oxygen anions. "Suddenly, some oxygen anions, which
everybody thought only existed in a doubly charged negative state, convert
to singly charged negative ions," he said. "These single negative oxygen
anions join in pairs. In this form, they are innocuous and can stay inactive
over geological times."
The hydrogen molecules, however, wander around inside the mineral structure
and can squeeze into the narrow spaces between the mineral grains. If the
intergranular space is filled with water, the hydrogen molecules will
dissolve in the water. If microbes live in the intergranular water films,
one can imagine, said Freund, that these bacteria extract the dissolved
hydrogen from the water and use this hydrogen as an energy source, not
unlike fish that extract oxygen dissolved in the water of rivers, lakes and
the sea to respire.
"What is potentially important," Freund said, "is that, if and when
microorganisms in the deep underground use this hydrogen dissolved in the
intergranular water films, the rocks around them will replenish the hydrogen
supply - indefinitely, over eons of time."
The paper by Freund and his coworkers also may help answer non-biological
questions related to the commercial viability of tapping hydrogen reserves
deep in the rocks and to questions of mine safety. For example, sometimes,
during mining and drilling operations, enough hydrogen seeps out of wall
rocks that explosive gas mixtures can be produced, according to some
"Since old, old times, the mining industry has had its share of mine
explosions in which hydrogen played a role," Freund said, "but hydrogen gas
could also be used as an energy source and fuel in today's or tomorrow's
society. For years, pipelines have been distributing hydrogen gas between
different industrial partners in the Ruhr Valley in Germany, and the experts
say it can be handled about as safely as natural gas."
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
(6) BUDGETARY MISMANAGEMENT AND LACK OF NEO FUNDING IN THE UK
An anonymous British correspondent writes:
Today is Budget Day in the UK, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer
announces his plans for government spending (and taxation) over the next
It has also been made public today that in the last financial year for which
figures are available (2000/01), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
underspent its funding allocation by TWENTY PERCENT. This is not a matter of
good economics: government departments are urged by the Chancellor to spend
their allocated funds. Not doing so has a number of repercussions, including
a deflation of the overall domestic economy. The DTI has been singled out as
the worst-performing department in this regard.
For those not aware of it, I point out that the British National Space
Centre, which has been given responsibility in the UK for dealing with
near-Earth objects, is part of the DTI. The amount of money needed to
implement ALL the recommendations of the UK NEO Task Force and fund
the necessary work over the next twenty years is a fraction of the huge
amount that the DTI failed to spend, contrary to the government's
The satirical magazine Private Eye often refers to the DTI is being the
"Department of Timidity and Inaction." Never truer than here, it seems.
I would imagine that CCNet subscribers would welcome a response from the
BNSC to the above. It is clear that a shortage of funding within the DTI is
not the reason for the wholesale lack of real action on the NEO question.
(7) YELLOW EMPEROR & DRAGONS
>From Bob Kobres <email@example.com>
readers can learn more of emperors, dragons, pheasants, etc. from some
resources I've put online:
THE DRAGON IN CHINA AND JAPAN by Dr. M. W. De Visser, 1913
THE SHE KING, OR BOOK OF ANCIENT CHINESE POETRY, TRANSLATED BY JAMES LEGGE,
D.D., LL.D., 1876
There are also interesting stories made up by people to scare their
"And various omens began to appear among the gods foreboding fear. Indra's
favourite thunderbolt blazed up in a fright. Meteors with flames and smoke,
loosened from the welkin, shot down during the day. And the weapons of the
Vasus, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Sadhyas, the Mature, and other gods,
began to spend their force against one another. Such a thing had never
happened even during the war between the gods and the Asuras. And the winds
blew accompanied with thunder and meteors fell by thousands. And the sky, though
cloudless, roared tremendously. And even he who was the god of gods shed showers
of blood. And the flowery garlands on the necks of the gods faded and their prowess
suffered diminution. And terrible masses of clouds dropped thick showers of
blood. And the dust raised by the winds darkened the splendour of the very
coronets of the gods. And He of a thousand sacrifices (Indra), with the
other gods, perplexed with fear at . . .
The materials may also be searched:
ball* near fire*
dragon* near emperor*
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
(8) WORKNOTES ON MAN IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST AND IMPACT EVENTS
>From E.P. Grondine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hello Benny -
In the study of recent smaller impact events, the ancient Near East is a an
area which is of particular importance. This is of course as it should be,
as the ancient Near East is the area where mankinds' earliest written
records have been recovered.
While working through the difficult task of trying to establish a date for a
new small impact event in this region (the Ninurta Impact - see below) I
assembled some materials which I think may be of great interest to some
Conference participants. I have set them out in chronological sequence in
this worknote, though given the current state of research into this area it
must be remembered that all of this is very preliminary. I was temepted to
say that none of these dates are set in stone, but then one of them is, and
it is quite certain that a number of other of these dates were most
definitely set in clay.
THE NEW CRATER FROM IRAQ: DID THE ENLIL IMPACT LEAD TO A SUMERIAN MIGRATION
INTO THE FERTILE CRESCENT?
IN broad terms, the initial ethnic situation which is found at the beginning
of history in the ancient Near East is as follows. With the discovery at
Ebla of cuneiform tablets written in a proto-Canaanean langauge, and the
recovery of early Elamite tablets in western Iran, we can assert that
Semetic peoples occupied the region from the Nile Valley through to Iran. To
their north, in Anatolia and on throughout continental Europe, man spoke
what are often called Pre-Indo European languages. These languages are
called Pre-Indo-European despite the fact that they were often nearly
unintelligible to later Indo-European speaking immigrants into these areas,
for none the less these languages show distant similarities to
Indo-European. The range of these languages throughout Europe is known by
the recovery of morphemes from the family from Pict in Scotland. The final
initial group of Near Eastern languages is not found at the very start of
history in that area but only much later, and these are the languages of the
ancient Indo-Europeans, whose migrations into the area are documented in the
cuneiform tablets. This leaves the Sumerians, whose language does not appear
related to those any of the above peoples. When did these people appear in
the ancient Near East?
A new crater has recently been identified in Iraq:
There are ancient Sumerian creation myths, the Enlil creation cycle, which
speak of the separation of the sky from the earth, and further assert that
man poured forth from a hole in the ground which was dug by Enlil near
Nippur, the holy city of the Sumerians. We have a late Babylonian copy of
this myth and an extract from it may be seen here:
What may, and let me emphasize once again MAY, this represent? My current
thinking is that what may have happened was that after the "Enlil Impact"
the Sumerians emigrated into the de-populated area from the Harrapan area of
Far fetched? Not likely. It is certain that if the area where this crater
was found was inhabited by Semetic peoples before the impactor hit, it was
uninhabited after it hit, as everyone in the surrounding area was dead. Now
the remains of a city have recently been found beneath the waters off the
coast of India:
Since these remains are well submerged today, they must have been contructed
before the rise in sea, level which is known to have started around 8,200
BCE. While some Conference participants tie this rise in sea level to a
Holocene Start Impact Event which set our chaotic weather/climate system
into a new direction, and this is very far from proven, it is definitely
known that this rise in sea level occured and that it began roughly 8,200
BCE. Thus these new finds in India are well dated as this city must have
been built before that rise in sea level occured.
Thus what has been found under the waters here are the remains of an
extremely advanced (one capable of building cites), ocean going (this is not
simply a riverine people, but rather the remains occur on the ocean at the
mouth of a river) culture which appeared at a very early (before 8,200 BCE)
date. On the other end of the voyage, we have an extremely fertile area, the
Delta of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which must have been completely
swept clear of any human inhabitants by the Enlil Impact.
Trade between these 2 areas is well attested from the earliest times, both
by trade goods and by written records. Sumerian myths also make frequent
mention of an ancient homeland overseas.
A NEWLY DISCOVERED IMPACT: THE IMPACT OF ASAG IN THE SUMERIAN EXPLOITS OF
What set this current bit of research in motion was when I "stumbled" upon
yet another impact myth from the ancient Near East, the impact of Asag in
the Myth of Ninurta:
"An enormous hurricane, irresistible, went before the Hero, stirred up the
dust, caused the dust to settle, levelled high and low, filled the holes. It
caused a rain of coals and flaming fires; the fire consumed men. It
overturned tall trees by their trunks, reducing the forests to heaps, Earth
put her hands on her heart and cried harrowingly; the Tigris was muddied,
disturbed, cloudy, stirred up. He hurried to battle on the boat
Ma-kar-nunta-eda; the people there did not know where to turn, they bumped
into (?) the walls. The birds there tried to lift their heads to fly away,
but their wings trailed on the ground. The storm flooded out the fish there
in the subterranean waters, their mouths snapped at the air. It reduced the
animals of the open country to firewood, roasting them like locusts. It was
a deluge rising and disastrously ruining the Mountains."
It is most interesting to note King Ninurta's response to his neighbors
being pounded by the Asag impactor: Ninurta took their lands:
"The Hero Ninurta led the march through the rebel lands. He killed their
messengers in the Mountains, he crushed (?) their cities, he smote their
cowherds over the head like fluttering butterflies, he tied together their
hands with hirin grass, so that they dashed their heads against walls. The
lights of the Mountains did not gleam in the distance any longer. People
gasped for breath (?); those people were ill, they hugged themselves, they
cursed the Earth, they considered the day of the Asag's birth a day of
disaster. The Lord caused bilious poison to run over the rebel lands. As he
went the gall followed, anger filled his heart, and he rose like a river in
spate and engulfed all the enemies. In his heart he beamed at his
lion-headed weapon, as it (Asag) flew up like a bird, trampling the
Mountains for him. It raised itself on its wings to take away prisoner the
disobedient, it spun around the horizon of heaven to find out what was
happening. Someone from afar came to meet it, brought news for the tireless
one, the one who never rests, whose wings bear the deluge, the Car-ur. What
did it (Car-ur) gather there ...... for Lord Ninurta? It reported the
deliberations of the Mountains, it explained their intentions to Lord
Ninurta, it outlined (?) what people were saying about the Asag."
Naturally, since this is a myth, our hero king Ninurta also has to do battle
with the impactor Asag, and this was undoubtedly a somewhat later change or
corruption of the original tale:
"The Asag leapt up at the head of the battle. For a club it uprooted the
sky, took it in its hand; like a snake it slid its head along the ground. It
was a mad dog attacking to kill the helpless, dripping with sweat on its
flanks. Like a wall collapsing, the Asag fell on Ninurta the son of Enlil.
Like an accursed storm, it howled in a raucous voice; like a gigantic snake,
it roared at the Land. It dried up the waters of the Mountains, dragged away
the tamarisks, tore the flesh of the Earth and covered her with painful
wounds. It set fire to the reed-beds, bathed the sky in blood, turned it
inside out; it dispersed the people there. At that moment, on that day, the
fields became black potash, across the whole extent of the horizon, reddish
like purple dye -- truly it was so!"
Now while irrigation had been practiced on a local scale for quite a while,
what Ninurta's conquest of the unfortunate victims of this impact allowed
him to do was to take control of an entire river system and to build far
larger irrigation works:
"At that time, the good water coming forth from the earth did not pour down
over the fields. The cold water (?) was piled up everywhere, and the day
when it began to ...... it brought destruction in the Mountains, since the
gods of the Land were subject to servitude, and had to carry the hoe and the
basket -- this was their corvée work -- people called on a household for the
recruitment of workers. The Tigris did not bring up its flood in its
fullness. Its mouth did not finish in the sea, it did not carry fresh water.
No one brought (?) offerings to the market. The famine was hard, as nothing
had yet been born (been created-epg). No one yet cleaned the little canals,
the mud was not dredged up. Ditch-making did not yet exist. People did not
work (?) in furrows, barley was sown broadcast.
"The Lord applied his great wisdom to it. Ninurta (1 ms. has instead:
Ninjirsu), the son of Enlil, set about it in a grand way. He made a pile of
stones in the Mountains. Like a floating cloud he stretched out his arms
over it. With a great wall he barred the front of the Land. He installed a
sluice (?) on the horizon. The Hero acted cleverly, he dammed in the cities
together. He blocked (?) the powerful waters by means of stones. Now the
waters will never again go down from the Mountains into the earth. That
which was dispersed he gathered together. Where in the Mountains scattered
lakes had formed, he joined them all together and led them down to the
Tigris. He poured carp-floods of water over the fields.
"Now, today, throughout the whole world, kings of the Land far and wide
rejoice at Lord Ninurta. He provided water for the speckled barley in the
cultivated fields, he raised up (2 mss. have instead: piled up) the harvest
of fruits in garden and orchard. He heaped up the grain piles like mounds.
The Lord caused trading colonies to go up from the Land of Sumer. He
contented the desires of the gods. They duly praised Ninurta's father."
Given that large scale irrigation first appeared in the Samarra area, where
pottery of the Samarra style also "spread" into the foothills of the Zagros
Mountains, this impact may be dated to roughly around 5,700 BCE. It is
interesting to note that the Ninurta Impact led to the formation of the
first nation exceeding the size of a city state. It is also interesting to
note that this civil structure was the first one large enough to gather
together enough resources to support a standing army.
It is not likely that further excavations will take place in this area for
quite some time:
But when work resumes this area should be closely examined for the remains
of the Ninurta Impact.
IMPACT AND MEGA-TSUNAMI: A HURRIAN VERSION OF THE FLOOD MYTH
I don't know if anyone has recently heard from anthropologist Bruce Masse,
who was working through the flood myths and had tied them to an impact
produced mega-tsunami which he dated to 2807 BCE. While reading through
materials on the Hurrians, I learned that they had their own version of the
Flood Myth. As the Hurrians lived in the area of the tributaries of the
Halab River, well to the north of the areas which were flooded, they should
have their own view of the event, and I hope to be able to pursue this myth
shortly. If someone wishes to send me a couple of hundred thousand dollars
I'm sure that this work could be moved along somewhat more quickly... :P)
THE RIO CUARTO IMPACT EVENT (2360 BCE) AND THE DATING OF SARGON
From what can be puzzled out with a great degree of difficulty, and thus not
all that clearly, the Maya were pretty insistent that the Rio Cuarto Impact
Event occured around 2360 BCE; as a matter of fact, the Maya appear to
insist that it occured exactly on 25 October, 2360 BCE. Fortunately for us,
the Maya never developed a clock, as we would now have to puzzle that out as
Some here will remember that this impactor entered on an angle, and that
Masse had also assembled myth materials from thoughout South America which
indicated that the whole of the continent of South America east of the Andes
in an area stretching from today's Guiana in the north to Argentina in the
south was set on fire by the heat thrown off from this impactor's entry:
The Maya reported that torrential rains washed away the "Mud People",
torrential rains which most likely were precipitated by the ash from this
massive fire. Recent NASA studies have shown that in the Northern
Hemisphere, such ash induced rains will most likely result in a lack of
rain, in other words drought, occuring further east:
Now following one of the typical conflicts between the Sumerian city states
for suzzerainity, the Semetic Akkadians under the leadership of Sargon
managed to seize control of the city of Kish from the non-Semetic Sumerians.
After the Akkadian's first ruler Sargon conquered Sumer proper in the south,
he then went on to conquer a wide sweep of land extending up the Euphrates
River and on to the coast of the Mediteranean Sea. It must be kept in mind
that both Cyprus as well as the Jordan River-Dead Sea Valley were copper and
tin sources, and that Sargon needed the bronze made from the
copper and tin from these areas to manufacture the weapons he needed to
equip his armies.
The low chronology dates for the Akkadian rulers are given as Sargon
2334-2279 BCE, Rimush 2279-2270 BCE, Manishtusu 2269-2255, and Naram-Sin
2254-2214 BCE. If the low chronology is correct, then possibly an earlier
influx of Semetic peoples from Rio Cuarto Impact drought stricken areas to
the east of Sumer may account for Sargon's ability to take control of the
city of Kish. On the other hand the middle chronology dates for the
Akkadian rulers are Sargon 2398-2343 BCE, Rimush 2343-2334 BCE, Manishtusu
2333-2319, and Naram-Sin 2318-2278 BCE. In this case the Rio Cuarto Impact
drought would have led to to the revolt which Sargon faced mid-way through
his reign. As will be seen later, the middle chronology best explains all
of the data, including that from Egypt.
THE ULLIKUMMI IMPACT AND STELA OF NARAM-SIN
Dr. Courty has long been arguing that an impact occured inthe Tel Leillan
area, and in an earlier note to Conference participants I relayed the
account of an impact event which was recorded by the Hurrians in their "Song
of Ullikummi". I now think that it may be possible to date this impact to
the time of Sargon's later successor, the Akkadian king Naram-Sin, 2318-2278
BCE by the middle chronology. A victory stela of Naram-Sin has survived
the ages, and it appears to show this impact event:
Or as Naram-Sin himself put it:
"Whereas, for all time since the formation of humankind there has never been
a king who overthrew Armanum and Ebla with the weapon of Nergal (as) did
Naram-Sin, the mighty, open the only path and he (Nergal) gave him Armanum
and Ebla. He (Nergal) bestoyed upon him (Naram-Sin) the Amanus too, (and)
the Cedar Mountain (the Jordan Valley), and the Upper Sea (the Mediterranean
Sea), and by the weapon of Dagan, exalter of his kingship, Naram-Sin, the
mighty, defeated Armanum and Ebla. Then, from the hither face (far west
side) of the Euphrates (River), he (Naram-Sin) smote the river bank as far
as Ulusium, as well as the people whom Dagan had for the first time bestowed
upon him, and they bear for him the burden of Ilaba his god. The Amanus
too, the Cedar Mountain, he conquered completely."
In this passage "with the weapon of Nergal" is a very important qualifier,
since Sargon had conquered Ebla earlier, and this fact was well known by all
Akkadians. On the other hand, Sargon had never had an impactor strike his
enemies and deliver them to him, as Naram-Sin had, and Naram-Sin fell into
delusions of grandeur, elevating himself to the status of a god, as may be
seen by the horned headress he shows himself wearing in his victory stela.
Naram-Sin was not the only leader to desire the impact depopulated Hurrian
lands. A short time later the Guteans (possibly an Indo-European people)
entered the area, and then they descended upon the Akkadian's capitol city
of Agade. We have a much later account of their victory preserved in the
morality tale "The Curse of Agade":
DATING THE DROUGHTS: NARAM-SIN'S CONQUESTS AND PHAROAH PEPI I's RESPONSE
Clearly Naram-Sin had enough time between his victory and the Gutean
migration/invasion to produce this stela. While it is still uncertain
whether the droughts which affected this area were caused by volcanic
eruptions, comet dust, dust rasied by the impacts of other fragments of the
Ullikummi Impactor, long term climatic shifts, or a combination of any or
all of the above, it is fairly certain that one of these droughts may be
dated toward the end of Nara-Sin's reign.
Naram-Sin's attempts to take control of the the copper deposits of the
Jordan Valley provoked a response by Pharoah Pepi I of Egypt, as the
Egyptians had enjoyed uninterruped use of these resources from pre-dynastic
And an account of these campaigns was preserved by the Pepi I's military
The dates for Pepi I's reign are usually given as 2289-2255 BCE, and an
overlap with Naram-Sin, 2318-2278 BCE, is only possible if the middle
chronology is used. Thus a box of years from 2289 to 2278 BCE presents
itself as the most likely time for the beginning of this particular
DATING THE DESTRUCTION OF EBLA
As was mentioned before, Sargon had gone into the Jordan Valley before
Naram-Sin, and one of the problems currently under discussion between the
excavator of Ebla, Paolo Matthiae, and his chief linguist, Giuvanni
Pettinato, is "Who destroyed Ebla, Sargon or Naram-Sin?"
In Weni's Autobiography we find that he claims to have enlisted the support
of the Yam-Nubians, or Yam-foreigners in the north. In contrast to other
semetic people who used "El" as a word for god, the Eblaites used "Ya" as
their term for god. Since the Eblaites are mentioned in Weni's
autobiography, clearly Sargon did not destroy Ebla, but Naram-Sin did.
DATING THE PHAROAHS OF THE FIFTH DYNASTY
Roughly comtemporaneous with Sargon (2398-2343 BCE) was Pharoah Izi Niuserre
(2416-2392 BCE), the sixth king of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. Not
surprisingly, Pharoah Izi undertook at least one campaign against the
"asiatics", undoubtedly in response to Sargon's attempt to secure the copper
and tin resources of the Jordan Valley.
We should find both the Rio Cuarto Impact drought of about 2360 BCE and the
Naram-Sin drought of sometime between 2318-2278 BCE recorded in the Egyptian
records. After Izi, the Egyptian Pharoahs were Menkauhor(2396-2388 BCE),
Djedkare Izezi(2388-2356 BCE), Wenis(2356-2323 BCE), and Teti(2323-2291
BCE). A famine is recorded under Weni, while Teti was murdered by his own
officials for reasons which are currently unknown. My guess is that they
were probably drought related.
NEW STRATA FROM HAZOR, THE MIDDLE CHROONOLOGY, AND THE JOSHUA IMPACT EVENT
There are two sites in the area between Akkad and Egypt where it appears
likely that cuneiform records may be recovered which could resolve these
chronological problems. These are the archaeological sites of the cities of
Megiddo and Hazor, and these cities would have been in "contact" with both
the Akkadians and the Egyptians during the period under study here.
The excavation of Megiddo is currently focused on (some might say fixated
on) the recovery of late Iron Age dates:
Thus the near term excavations of Megiddo will probably not be of much help
in resolving the problems of the chronology of far earlier periods.
The news from the second site, Hazor, is much more promising:
There the search for the archive of the Early Bronze Age palace is on.
Hazor was also the leading Canaanite city at the time of Joshua's invasion,
and its king led the coalition of Canaanite cities which formed against the
ancient Israelites. Last year's excavations uncovered a destruction level
dating to Joshua's destruction of the city. The excavators ascribed this
destruction level to Thutmose III's campaign, even though it was not likely
that Thutmose III was out to attack the cities of Canaan, which had earlier
allied themselves with Egypt against Akkad. It is far more likely that the
new defensive citadel built atop this destruction level was Thutmose III's
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
First, when dealing with any impact materials, it is important to remember
that over a suitably long enough period of time the people living in any one
region will be affected by impact events several times. When dealing with
their records it is important to keep this in mind, and not to conflate
together accounts of separate impact events.
Second, ancient man in the Near East was affected by catastrophe a number of
times, and not all of these catastrophes were impacts or impact related. A
number were volcanic, such as the volcanic explosion of Thera, and a number
were climatic catastrophes of still undetermined cause. What impact events
can do, because of their scale, is help with the dating of these events, and
thus help with the determination of their causes, and thus hopefully with
their future amelioration.
Third, not all of the catastrophes which affected man in the ancient Near
East were produced by natural causes: a number of these catastrophes man
made. Here is one area where one could certainly at least hope that modern
social technologies have advanced to that point where the suffering caused
by these catastrophes may be reduced.
Well, Benny, that's it for now.
Best wishes -
By the way, while I disagree with several of the details of his conclusions,
I found the insights and materials gathered by Danish researcher Claus Fentz
Krogh to be of great help in working through this problem:
and I need to thank him here for that work. Despite its difficulties,
Krogh's English is much better then my Danish, which is non-existent, and I
especially want to thank him for the effort he made in translating his work
into another language so that he could share it with others.
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