Phaëton in Greek mythology was the son of Helios the Greek sun god. Phaëton was also the name given to a comet that impacted or had a close encounter with the Earth in the 13th century BC. The Egyptians knew this comet as Sekhmet. Ancient inscriptions record that some of the consequences of this dramatic encounter were the drying up of the Nile and the desertification of Libya.
Michel-Alain Combes has noted(j) that Phaëton has also been associated “with Anat in Syria, the star of Baal in Canaan (Palestine and Phenicia), Absinthe, The star of the Apocalypse) among the Hebrews, Surt in the countries of the north.”
A 2012 paper by Peter James and M.A, van der Sluijs entitled ”Silver’: A Hurrian Phaethon’ (l) concluded that “there is an attractive pattern of correspondences between the well-known Greek myth of Phaethon and the Hurrian myth of Silver.” Silver was a character in Hurrian mythology, also know as Ushu.
Interestingly, Plato records in Timaeus how Phaëton caused immense devastation, but does not link it directly with the destruction of Atlantis but the context implies an event that was in the distant past, considerably earlier than Solon. Some ancient authorities, such as Eusebius and Isidore of Seville, have associated Phaëton with the time of Moses.
The poet Goethe considered the story of Phaëton to have had a real astronomical origin.
Franz Xavier Kugler was a Jesuit priest who spent over thirty years studying ancient astronomical texts written in cuneiform. In 1927, he published a paper in which he concluded that an asteroidal impact in the Mediterranean inspired the story of Phaëton.
More recently, Bob Kobres has written a number of articles on the subject of Phaëton having a cometary origin(k). Some of these papers can be found on the Internet(a). Kobres dates this Phaëton event to around 1200 BC.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos from the University of Patras in Greece presented a paper to the 2005 Atlantis Conference held on Melos in which he linked Plato’s Phaëton with an encounter between the earth and cometary fragments around 1200 BC. Emilio Spedicato has opted for 1447 BC, while Clube & Napier have proposed 1369 BC as the dates for the encounter with Phaëton.
Dale Drinnon has argued(g) against any connection between Phaeton and the destruction of Atlantis saying “There are two different kinds of catastrophes being described and distinguished from one another and the Phaethon event is categorically differentiated from the Destruction of Atlantis in the Atlantis dialogues of Plato. There is no good reason to equate the two and certainly no textual justification for doing so.”
Emilio Spedicato identifies Phaëton(b) with the explosion of a comet or large asteroid over southern Denmark in 1447 BC, which is an echo of Jürgen Spanuth’s idea that Phaëton was a fragment of Halley’s Comet. Two other followers of Spanuth, Günter Bischoff and Walter Stender have written extensive papers, in German, on a meterorite impact with Northern Europe around 1220 BC, which they identifies as Phaëton(c). The same interpretation has been applied specifically to Lake Chiemgau in S.E. Bavaria and is expanded on in papers by Barbara Rappenglück among many others.(d)(f)
Amanda Laoupi offers an extensive article on the history of the Phaëton myth and its interpretation in both ancient and modern times.
Phaëton was also the name given by Johann Gottlieb Radlof (1775-1829) to a planet which he believed disintegrated after a collision with a comet, within human memory, resulting in the asteroid belt.
(g) See Archive 3605
(k) See: Archive 3365.
Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) was by profession a doctor of medicine, specialising in psychiatry. However, his fame is based on being arguably the most controversial catastrophist of the 20th century. He daringly proposed that the Earth had a number of close encounters with other planetary bodies that resulted in catastrophic consequences, including interference with the rotation of our planet. He speculated that Atlantis was probably destroyed during one of these cataclysmic events.
Some have seen the influence of Ignatius Donnelly’s Ragnarok, written seventy years earlier, in Velikovsky’s cosmic collision theories. In fact a number of commentators have noted how Velikovsky seemed reluctant to credit earlier writers, such as W. C. Beaumont and Johann Radlof (1775-1846)(b), with their contributions to the development of the theory of planetary catastrophism. Rens Van Der Sluijs has written an interesting two-part paper(d)(e) listing the catastrophists who preceded Velikovsky demonstrating a certain lack of originality on his part! Others take a more critical view of his ideas(g). In 1950, he responded to this criticism with a defensive piece(n), but I consider it inadequate as he continued to ignore the work of Radlof and Beaumont.
Van Der Sluijs has written a two-part(k)(l) article on Velikovsky’s radical views regarding Venus as a comet-like body and how Aztec sources support some of his contentions.
Carl Sagan (1934-1996), was a well-known American astronomer, author and lecturer. He is considered a leading debunker of Velikovsky’s theories. He devoted much of his Broca’s Brain  to this end. Charles Ginenthal (1934-2017) produced an extensive rebuttal of Sagan’s criticisms in Carl Sagan & Immanuel Velikovsky .>However, criticism of Velikovsky continue with varying degrees of ferocity, such as that of Leroy Ellenberger, a former supporter of Velikovsky, who contends that the data from the Greenland ice cores fails to support Velikovsky(s).<
Velikovsky was initially inclined to link the disappearance of Atlantis with the eruption of Thera, but later came to support a location between the Azores and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge(i). He was an early questioner of Plato’s figure of 9,000 years for the age of Atlantis, suggesting that it was exaggerated by a factor of ten[0037.152]. ”Whatever the source of the error, the most probable date of the sinking of Atlantis would be in the middle of the second millennium, 900 years before Solon, when the earth twice suffered great catastrophes as a result of ‘the shifting of the heavenly bodies.’ These words of Plato received the least attention, though they deserved the greatest.”
Velikovsky offered intriguing evidence that on at least one occasion the early Egyptians experienced the sun rising in the west and setting in the east(q)! His other major contribution was in his questioning of the accepted Bronze Age chronologies of the eastern Mediterranean. Later writers, such as David Rohl and Peter James have built on his chronology work, while Gary Gilligan has added support for Velikovsky’s planetary theories as well.
One website(a) provides us with a considerable amount of Velikovsky’s unpublished work, while another offers an encyclopedia of his work(c). A more general German site(f), in English, is also worth a visit.
The three of Velikovsky’s most popular books as well as some of his lesser known papers are available as pdf files(j)(m).
Jan Sammer was an assistant to Velikovsky (1976-1978) and an archivist and editor for the Velikovsky Estate (1980-1983). He advises us that he was involved in the completion of Velikovsky’s unpublished book, In the Beginning, which can be read online(h).
In 2012, Laird Scranton, published The Velikovsky Heresies, in which he reviews Velikovsky’s controversial theories in the light of scientific discoveries since his death. Not unexpectedly, Scranton does find evidence that supports some of Velikovsky’s contentions.
Some readers may wish to see a video by Wallace Thornhill, of Electric Universe fame, in which he discusses Velikovsky’s Astrophysics (o). There are a number of free papers and books, including some Velivovskian material, available online(p).