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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

‘The Fall of Phaethon’ by Gunter Bischoff

[I shall print the entire of Herr Bischoff’s artcle here with the best translation into English that I can make. There are a few details in which my understanding differs from his interpretations but I shall address these matters separately in a future blog entry. Best Wishes, Dale D, And thanks once again to Gunter Bischoff.]

The Fall of Phaethon
(C) Günter Bischoff, published in Efodon-Synesis No. 5 / 2003

Only in recent years, humanity has become aware of a specific threat from outer space. According to many scientists, asteroids and comets from time to time, can approach the earth and endanger the life of this world to the utmost. The most famous event took place 65 million years ago when a large stone struck about six miles meteorite in Central America. As a result of global climate deterioration the dinosaurs died out, most other animal species along with them. Fortunately, such large pieces of debris of the solar system fall only once every few million years. More often, however small celestial bodies have caused local disasters on impact on the earth’s surface that have stuck with the memory of men, although that memory can date back for millennia.

An unusual, from science until now only little attention meteorite fall occurred in all probability 3200 years ago abundant. If this interpretation is correct, then there was the momentous impact event of recent human history, namely the impact of a hundred to two hundred-meter asteroid before the coast of Helgoland. Perhaps, astronomers and geologists would still not become aware of the natural event, had not encouraged to investigate an ancient legend.

The legend of Phaethon

Several ancient Greek poets and historians mention this forecast and report on the details, including next to Hesiod, Solon and Aeschylus Euripides, Aristotle and Plutarch. The most comprehensive source but also can be found in the “Metamorphoses” [1] of the Roman poet Ovid (41 BC AD. To 17.), He drew his knowledge from older, now-lost previous writings. Presented in a nutshell , Ovid’s verses talk about the following [2].

Phaethon, which is also known as “The Shining” and “Flaming”, asks his father Helios, may one day lead to the sun-horses. Despite the serious misgivings and warnings of his father, he stands by his request. Phaethon extracts an oath from his father by trickery and Helios must fulfill the request, because he had vowed to prove his paternity in an oat on the River Styx. As the sun horses feel that an inexperienced person holding the reins, they break out of the storm track and to the earth. Terrible fires destroy forests and towns, rivers run dry because of the appalling heat and their sources fail them. Formerly fertile lands are desolate, terrible earthquakes shake the world, wherever the ground bursts, mountains cover burn with fiery embers of smoldering ash and smoke, the black earth in darkness. Three times the sea recedes, to return with devastating floods. Finally, Zeus pities the endangered Earth and hurls Phaethon from the chariot with a thunderbolt. Phaethon falls into the mouth of the Eridanus, on whose shores it his sisters, the Heliades, weep with tears of blood, which become amber. From mourning the death of their brother, the Heliades are turned into poplar trees.

“Routing Linn Inscribed Rock” (Tate George, British Ancient Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders, 1865). Was this the appearance of Phaethon?

Visual art has often used the fall of Phaethon for sarcophagus reliefs and memorials, because the myth is the transience of life into poetic images. Painters such as Tintoretto and G. Moreau took up the theme.

As with any legend arises the question whether perhaps hides a real event experienced by people behind it. Ovid himself had explained Phaethon with a natural phenomenon, the “maximally similar” would be a meteor or shooting star. The body must have touched the ground at any rate at some particular place.

As the first in modern times came JW von Goethe on this issue, which is known also noticed a lot of operating scientific studies. He also suspected a real event, namely the crash of a meteoritic body to the earth’s surface [3]. The famous philologist Willamowitz-Möllendorf, held that Phaethon stood only for the morning star Venus. Phaethon’s fall was from Kugler first placed with the Deucalion Flood in context by Kugler,that the coasts of Greece in the 13th. Century BC. were flooded

In 1965, summed up the North Frisian pastor and archaeologist J. Spanuth all together with the Phaethon related symptoms and put them to archaeological evidence and written traditions of many civilizations from the Bronze Age to [5]. He also collected the first comprehensive evidence that Phaethon could have triggered the downfall of Atlantis. For a long time but even he was puzzled about the nature of the celestial phenomenon: it was now a giant meteorite falling down or mischief-making of the tail of a comet, in which the earth had fallen?

In 1979, a renowned geologist, spoke up. Prof. W. v. Engelhardt, Tübingen, spoke out for the long term impact of a large meteorite. According to Ovid, he should be cast into the mouth of the amber river Eridanus, and as described von Engelhardt, the nightmare scenario the collapse of such a body into the sea with all the consequences: huge clouds of steam up to great heights, catastrophic downpours and floods, which are much higher than Tsunamis triggered by an earthquake [3]. According to von Engelhardt and some ancient writers, it should be at the legendary river Eridanus to the bottom leading into the Mediterranean. But in the northern Adriatic, there is no depression which suggests a meteorite impact.

The Amber River Eridanus

To unravel the legend of Phaethon, the localization of this river known from Greek mythology is of great importance. The identification of Eridanus “in science, amazingly, only five options have been discussed seriously. These are again the two Mediterranean inflows Rhone and Po, on the other hand, the North Sea rivers Rhine, Elbe and Eider. To accept the Rhone or the Po, was not completely wrong, because this important age of amber routes of the Bronze Age, and finally found the Deucalion flood instead of a Mediterranean coast. Nevertheless, this contradicts the important ancient authors note that the Eridanus in the “Kronos-sea” (ie the North Sea) or in the “Hyperborean ocean” flowed. In their discussions, however, the researchers had made ??unnecessarily difficult. The three rivers Rhodanus, Padus and Rhenus are in fact listed in the “Metamorphoses” [M II, 258] under each his own name, and this match beyond doubt today Rhone, the Po and the Rhine. As Eridanos come so from the outset only the same or The Eider considered. [The separate work of Antiquity, “The Argonautica” makes it clear that the conception of the Eridanus was a mythical one, and it was assumed that the same river ran around the rim of Europe from the Black Sea to the Western end of the Mediterranean, so that the Argonauts in emerging out the other end of the river had to sail back Eastwards to get to Greece, around Italy and Sicily. The “River Eridanus” originally meant to name the Danube and it is also a constellation. But none of these considerations enter into the description of the river as a source of amber-DD]

Apocalypse on the northern hemisphere

At an extraordinary natural disaster in the North Sea coast at the end of the Bronze Age in 1844 the Danish researcher E. and Forchhammer 1910, the German geologist D. Wildvang drew attention, without suspecting the relationship with an asteroid crash. They reconstructed a minimum of 20 m high tsunami, which was thus three times higher than in the worst storm surges. Several surf walls were erected on the coasts, and a gravel layer of 100 Danish square miles (5,000 square km) covered the interior. In addition to the 20 km wide island capital Amber Alt-Helgoland were also many other islands and marshes destroyed before the present west coast of Schleswig-Holstein.

But not only the German and Danish North Sea coast were devastated and uninhabitable for a long time. In several areas of Europe, there was simultaneous large-scale forest fires, such as in the then uninhabited Black Forest, in Holland, northern Germany and Scandinavia. Lightning Strikes by human hands and set fire to date is insufficient explanations were in favor. Phaethon heat during the crash ignited the moors and forests instead. A continuous fire horizon in the peatlands of the North German Plain confirmed a complete disaster in the late Bronze Age [5, p. 192f]. There should be an hurricane storm have raged since the force as a steadfast countless oaks were uprooted. Archaeologists have found remains of these trees in Schleswig-Holstein and in Emsland [27].

The utter devastation of large swathes of land forced the people in the North and Baltic Sea coast, emigrate to southern countries. They tore it with other nations, and came to Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt, where 1191 BC. a massive final battle took place in the Nile Delta, which ended with the defeat of the so-called “North and Sea Peoples”. Greek Bronze Age population was decimated by the disaster so severe that after the flowering of the Mycenaean civilization, the “Dark Ages” that followed.

Another consequence of the asteroid crash was triggered earthquakes worldwide. Presumably, this in turn caused numerous volcanic eruptions, and Mount Etna to be broken for the first time after a long break. However, was the most disastrous explosion of the Santorini volcano on the tiny Aegean island of Thera. The huge tidal wave spreading from there, which became known as Deucalion flood in history, destroyed many settlements on the nearby islands and coasts of Greece [9].

Apparently, you get even more natural disasters this time in other parts of the Phaethon-related crash. Stone temples were destroyed by devastating fires in Egypt and Syria, through the effects of war can not be explained. Contemporary documents reported in these two countries from the comet “Sekhmet” or “Typhon” and star of “Anat,” the “peoples of the murdered” [6], [10]. Phaethon by heat to the people of Ethiopia will have its black color, and India was “under fire of the Orb” (M. I, 778). You may also report the Popol-Vuh Maya writing and other Mexican traditions from the ravages of this unusual celestial body.

Especially the ancient Egyptian texts, especially from the reign of Ramses III. Now allow a more precise dating of the prehistoric catastrophe. This report, consistent with the “Metamorphoses” by Ovid, that “Libya was a desert” and dried up the Nile. While it from the time before the death of the Pharaoh Merneptah in 1222 BC. in this regard are no traditions, was the beginning of the reign of Ramses III. in 1220 BC. “Egypt in complete desolation” [6, p. 232].
Phaethon fell accordingly by about the year 1220 BC. from, and indeed on a spring just before new moon. The season can now determine more precisely because the Greeks every year in the middle of the first month of spring festival celebrated the sterol Anthes. It was also thought the flood of Deucalion and the Apollo at Delphi sacrifices, because he had saved the ancestors of the Delph at this tremendous flood before the flood [5, p.140]. Be the first appearance of the celestial body must be after the last quarter of our earth’s satellite is, because at dawn, “the horns of the bleaching seemed to wane moon” (M. II, 112-117).

A circling star


All these have in Europe, North Africa and other continents to explain the observed phenomena but not solely with the impact of an asteroid near Helgoland. A compelling hypothesis that illuminates many details presented, in 1982 the former aerospace engineer at W. Stender [10]. Brought him a passage from the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Seti II, who described the comet Sekhmet as a circling star, a bold idea. Phaethon could have been by only a small planetoid Stender [11], who came so near the earth, the atmosphere that slowed him and forced him into orbit. Our planet needs this celestial body orbits have several times until it finally crashes, the air friction brought.

The professional astronomers had this scenario so far not even a consideration of theoretical and even today are still very skeptical about these views. The capture of an asteroid by the Earth’s sky that is mechanically extremely improbable and calculated to be about 200 times rarer than a direct hit. But this very unusual interpretation of Ovid’s description can be very well reconciled (M. II, 202-207): “… break through the big sellers (ie, the sun-horses) that, since nothing prevents them from
Foreign air districts in the kingdom, to where she pushed her drive,
Lawn them without law, to stars that are high in the ether
Liable to storm it, they tear away the car off the road,
Strive for Hoh soon, soon they hunt down a steep
Path and get so into the space adjacent to the earth. … ”

As a contemporary of artificial earth satellites can be understood without difficulty this image-rich explanations: The reaches near the surface by the air surrounding braked celestial body in an extremely eccentric elliptical orbit which is then in a distance of some bringing tens to hundreds of thousands of kilometers high. The next time you pass through the perigee, the closest point, it is slowed down a second time and achieved an elliptical path that leads him into a lower perigee (apogee) than in the first round. After several orbits, the velocity at perigee below the minimum speed of 7.9 km / s is braked, so that he complete the entire circumnavigation no longer can or crashes.

Now, can easily be applied to explain why to have been sighted on Phaethon Greece, Egypt, Syria, India and other countries. During his several-day orbits, he will have flown on its elliptical orbit, many inhabited areas. Some observers may have seen him here several times and even from different directions. Was able to easily create the impression of a “random walk”.

The orbital inclination of the asteroid can be approximated from the flight path angle derived in the crash. Since the longitudinal axis of the hole with the Helgoland north about an angle of 60 ° to 69 °, the trajectory reached up to a latitude of 57 ° to 59 °. The perigee must have located near the northernmost point rail.

A 3200 years old description of a satellite orbit lies behind the Council of the sun god Helios, which he gives to his son on the way (M. II, 129-133): “Choose not across the way on all five districts, they
Obliquely cutting in a wide arc over the street,
Keeps up with three areas of content areas and avoids
So the south pole and the bear in the stormy north.
This is your path. You’ll see the wheel tracks clearly. ”

The phenomenon must have seemed very confusing and threatening the people of that time: about 58 ° to areas n.Br. chasing a giant glowing “fire-breathing rock ‘with 25 – to 30-times the speed of sound across, and its trajectory was only about twice as high as that of a jet. Lightning umzuckten the body due to the ionization of the atmosphere. After a while, then the sonic boom was followed by a deafening roar and a huge storm [10]. In the areas of 50 ° to 57 ° n.Br. Phaethon is already moving into the upper atmosphere. Here are worried people will have seen a “flame spreading over” big shooting star and then a distant rumbling of thunder. Phaethon is completely different, however moving across areas of the southern hemisphere night sky could then draw on the inhabitants of a small star “of bloody red” slow to see, without knowing the true nature of the unusual celestial body. Have been seen in other regions, it should be “close to the sun.”

Fire from heaven

When flying through the dense layers of air Phaethon began due to the friction heat in each round to glow again and eventually burn [10]. Its surface was so busy here that different-sized parts replaced the stone meteorite crashed and now because of the much larger air friction even at one of the first times around. Thus, the impact of individual pieces of debris in the northern section of track is quite probable. By Estonian scientists already had about 110 m wide circular crater of Kaali lake on the island of Saaremaa (Saaremaa) with the Phaethon legend associated [13]. Should also be assumed that this celestial body over Central Estonia a blinding flash. Because of the suspected relationship to all other calculations by the author, an orbital inclination of 58.5 degrees, the latitude of the area, were used.
Have struck a real shower of very small meteor as meteors must after the impact of the main body of the survivors. The old Germanic traditions about Ragnarok, the “doomsday”, which is certainly also on Phaethon fall and the decline relates many North Sea islands at the end of the Bronze Age describe the unusual event in the Edden [5,14]: “The sun goes out, and country sinks into the sea;
fall from the sky the bright stars.
Loke buffeted the Yggsdrasil (the World Ash);
high heat rises skyward. ”

But the more southern countries were of the mischief-making heavenly bodies are not spared, although there already far outside the atmosphere circled the earth. For the actual fatality was the man a sticky, flammable substance on the surface of the asteroid. About the nature of the “blood red” material there are only conjectures [15]. He clung to burning debris, which is replaced by the friction heat from the main body and fell down along the flight path on the earth’s surface. In this way, but the temperate latitudes inhabited areas such as Ethiopia moved to 10 ° N. hit.
As curiosity is highlighted in the earlier reports that this “blood rain” and “Rain of Fire” even on waters continued to burn. As “burning” especially some small Greek and Asian rivers, the Hister (Danube lower course) are Tanais (Don), Euphrates and Ganges mentioned [M. II, 242 ff]. The sticky substance developed such a heat that “passed temples and cities,” and even stone buildings have been completely turned into ashes.

Excavations from this period in the Syrian city of Ashur, for example, show a scorching heat that burned hundreds of brick layers for annealing and melting brought. The whole core of the building of a former tower and the walls of mud brick were roasted and glazed throughout. Also, the excavator of Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite empire, faced a similar mystery. Here and in other cities of Asia Minor, there are witnesses of devastating fires that can not possibly have been caused by man. Furthermore, were in Macedonia, Hungary and Germany at the end of the 13th Century BC. fixed assets destroyed by fire [6]. These include powerful Bronze Age “slag walls” such as the on the Eisenberg at Plauen in Saxony, where the stones through a tremendous heat for melting and slagging have been brought [12].

Not in every case the connection with the “rain of fire” of this asteroid is already assured. But overall, these notes confirm exceptionally severe fires in the early history of the ancient legend one more time: “Phaethon … but now looks as inflamed in all corners of the globe …” [M. II, 227].

A satellite for a few days


The capture of a celestial body orbiting the sun by the earth is an extremely rare event, which is to be expected only under very special conditions. What circumstances lead to entry into a satellite orbit, it will now be discussed in more detail.

When a cosmic body enters the atmosphere, then his fate will depend largely on four parameters: its diameter, density, velocity of approach and the height at its nearest approach. The asteroid was too fast or too high during the closest approach, then the earth gets only a “graze”, as on 10 August 1972 before the eyes of thousands of North Americans occurred [16]. However, he is flying too slowly or too low, then it burns up in the dense layers of air or hits the ground immediately. If he is slower after first leaving the upper atmosphere than the escape velocity of 11.2 km / s, but still faster than the minimum circular orbit velocity vK of 7.9 km / s, then he completed at least one more trip around outside the air envelope.

Without air friction, an asteroid would be at perigee to accelerate to a velocity vp and then leave the gravitational field again.

VP2 = VF2 + vrel2

vF = 11.19 km / s escape velocity near the surface;
v rel = velocity relative to the ground before approaching

The first time you fly through the air so it must cover at least to be slowed down to a stable, unaffected by gravitational perturbations elliptical orbit can turn to [29] on a full scale speed of 11.12 km / sec. Like a computer simulation showed, the speed also increases with each further passage through the atmosphere at a nearly constant amount vD> vP – from FS. The approximate constancy is based on the one hand, the air resistance due to the constantly falling speed is low, on the other hand, the eccentric circular ellipses are always similar and cover the body a longer path through the air, outer layer. Through this law results in a good way, regardless of the size of the object theoretically possible maximum number of orbits Umax can be calculated before the crash:

Umax = [(FS – vK) / (vP – fs)] + 1

([…] = Integer part)

Only at a relatively low approach speed of less than 9 km / s is the temporary satellite orbiting the earth several times. More than 10 orbits, however, come about only under conditions that are rarely fulfilled (Table 1).

Also, the maximum total round trip time can be estimated sufficiently well. Regardless of the specific Einfangbedingungen is the orbital period of the first orbit is always greater than the orbital periods of all further orbits taken together. The first elliptical orbit but there are limits, because with more than 500,000 km away, are unfavorable gravitational disturbances expected from the sun [17]. Since a complete revolution in this elongated ellipse about two weeks, each captured object can thus encircle the earth more than 1 month (Table 1). This is an important statement for climate scientists and archaeologists because of Phaethon were already suspected orbital periods of several years [12, p.274]. Namely, his fall went ahead adverse climatic changes. So much mischief and havoc of the asteroid, BC for the dry season from about 1250th and a first wave of emigration to the North Sea Peoples and other reasons must be found.

Than three decades ago, astronauts from the moon returning to Earth, the Apollo capsule could not miss one only 11 km wide reentry corridor. Also for the capture of an asteroid can be a cheaper area be set. Heaven meets the body at its largest at the lower limit of Erdannäherung Einfangkorridors, he can just run a full rotation. In contrast, at the upper limit of Perigäumshöhe come about most stable orbits. As the calculations showed, the Einfangkorridor even under favorable conditions, only a width of nearly 30 km. He is so narrow, the higher the initial approach speed of the object on the Earth. For larger celestial bodies, the earth’s surface itself forms a natural lower limit of the corridor (Table 1). Too big or too fast cosmic vagabonds, and among them are mainly the comet, in principle can not be captured. A second Phaethon is – statistically speaking – in the next 1000 years, the narrow corridor is not quite sure hit.


All calculations were based on the author an object density of 3 g/cm3, the average density of known asteroids in our solar system. Be considered for the effective air resistance rate was about 245 m / s reduced since Phaethon was perigee to about 58.5 degrees north latitude and it orbited the Earth in the direction of rotation. Another important parameter is the drag coefficient Cd of importance, but unfortunately can not be determined. For a cosmic body with a rough surface that moves with multiple speed of sound, the value is approximately between 1.1 and 3.0 near the surface at the outer boundary of the upper atmosphere at 100 km altitude [19].

The trajectory

Although no details of Phaethon size, speed and altitude are known [from contemporary documents-DD] the 3200-year-old meteorite fall can be reconstructed with some certainty. This time helps the legend recorded by Ovid continues with many astronomical interpretable details.

The previous calculations, a captured object can range from a few hours and four weeks orbiting the earth. In the “Metamorphoses” can now be found an indication of the possible total turnaround time for Phaethon significantly limits (M. II, 270-271): “… three times Neptune dared to stretch the arms out of the flood,
Grim face, and three times he could not endure the fiery air. … ”
For a localized ground observer who witnessed thus three times the tides, so the phenomenon lasted only a maximum of 2 days. Total Phaethon orbited the earth for longer considered certainly, but probably not more than four days.

The actual total turnaround time to the crash and the exact number of times around the world can not be calculated directly, because the approach speed and the Perigäumshöhe are still unknown. These two parameters significantly influence the circulation patterns and the areas affected overflight. But it can be reconstructed sections of the real trajectory before 3200 years ago and eventually merge to form a complete picture. The old legend that is mentioned geographical areas that must have been directly under the “ball of fire”. For example, dry out the sources of the Nile (M. II, 254f) and Phaethon flew under intense heat “his Ethiopian land” (M. I, 778). Fixed points are still important as those rivers, on the surface of the “blood rains” on fire. This may have been flown over just in Abbrandphase on the south-east facing section of track, which immediately followed the perigee. So stand out clearly four regions, which must have been happening during different rounds: Sudan / Ethiopia; Greece / Asia Minor, Iraq (Euphrates River near Baghdad) and India (Ganges).

By systematically varying the two parameters approach speed and height at nearest approach can now calculate all the possible trajectory of settlements. Under the assumption of less than 100 hours total round trip time was only at a relative speed of 2,24 km / s can be achieved a good agreement with the traditional trajectory pattern. Phaethon walked around it in almost exactly 3 days, the Earth six times, he approached the surface in each perigee up to 30.6 km (Table 2). This minimum distance to the surface was obtained when one is placed by the author estimated Phaéthon’s size of 150 m based. Also in calculations with different diameters was always a corresponding height at nearest approach with nearly identical trajectory to determine the course (see Table 3). Now a newspaper article about becoming a big star in importance, “whose flames ate the sun” and the 1300-1200 BC. China has seen over [22]. The observation could relate well to Phaethon, who calculated that the burned during the fifth orbit Central Asia and crossed after exiting to the atmosphere.

Clarification of the trajectory might succeed one day by the discovery of small craters that have been beaten by Phaethon fragments. In our continent, especially in Scotland, are expected in southern Sweden and the Baltic countries such secondary craters. A first candidate for this is possibly the lily lake at Baldone 30 km southeast of Riga, where suspected W. Stender also a creation by a meteorite impact. The mention of Estonian scientists in 1978 in this context of the Kaali crater-lake deposits from, however, because both the collapse of BC from the east direction and the determined time by 800 to 400. speak to the contrary [26].

Phaethon was at a non-arbitrary mean diameter estimated at 150 m [21]. Through a discovery of Planetoid determination D. Davis and C. Chapman, two decades ago, the maximum diameter can be narrowed. It turned out that represent over 200 m-sized objects almost invariably loose “rubble pile”. The originally large compact Urkörper between Mars and Jupiter are mutually train crashed in the past 5 billion years. The rocks were united again later formed irregular, partially hollow asteroids with low mean density [18]. Such a celestial body would certainly not be the enormous load of a repeated passage flying withstood the denser layers of the atmosphere.

The probable minimum size is derived from the visibility conditions at the perigee. Phaethon is said to have resembled, according to tradition “rather than a lump of a fiery star” [20, p.104]. The Bronze Age witnesses so he appeared so large that they could clearly see the different from a spherical shape. Such a perception of a rapidly across the sky pulling the object should be expected only from an apparent size of 10 arc minutes, a third of the apparent diameter of the moon. Together with the previous calculations about the trajectory and especially the Perigäumshöhe adds up to a diameter of at least 100 m (see Table 3).

The end of the asteroid
From the last perigee until impact Phaethon lost about thirty kilometers in height, but it still put back a flight of 1900 kilometers. This typical behavior of a crash orbit very aptly describes Ovid [M. II 319-322]:

“Phaethon … plunges through the air in the long
migratory path, sometimes like a star from the clear
Heaven, he is not, yet can seem to fall. ”

This section was flying over the North Atlantic and the British Isles. Scotland especially has felt the impact of the asteroid. It was the only inhabited area on Earth, which was flown twice during the Abbrandphase. Re pretty much three days after the first flyover crossing Phaethon the Scottish Highlands, this time further south between the Isle of Skye and the north-eastern part of the Grampian mountains. For the Bronze Age inhabitants of the highlands was the last crossing about three minutes before impact at Helgoland even worse consequences, because the “flames spreading over ball” only in about fifteen kilometers altitude flying along, accompanied by a deafening thunder. The “rain of fire” and the larger glowing rocks, which were replaced in the last Abbrandphase with the highest deceleration must have led to devastating wildfires.

Table 4: Parameters of the solar orbit of Phaethon (partly estimated) and Orpheus

Perhaps this is an unsolved archaeological mystery a simple explanation. Especially in northern and northwestern Scotland, some sixty forts with scorified wall remnants are known, while similar forts have not been destroyed in other parts of Europe in this way. The long before the Romans built structures must have been one more day to excessive heat exposure. An ordinary fire, then experiments have shown, would not have shown such effects. Also the top of the 564 m high mountain Tap O ‘North (fifty miles north-west of Aberdeen) was completely glazed [28]. None of the explanations put forward so far satisfied the archaeologists and geologists. Nor the exact time of the fire is unknown. Should it, scientists at the 13th Century BC. Narrow, then the cause is obvious.

The final flight path led across the open North Sea section on the line about Stonehaven (twenty miles south of Aberdeen) – Helgoland. This time, we also believe in the old traditions, so there were massive disintegration, without the main body would be broken [M II, 314-318]:

“And the horses, they shun, for in a sudden set back
Break her neck from the yoke and let the belt burst.
Here the bridle, and there, torn away from the pole,
If the axis, where the spokes of the broken wheels
And widely scattered wreckage of the crashed car. ”

South at a safe distance from a good hundred kilometers of the trajectory, in Northumberland, the people must have presented an unusual spectacle. Very low on the horizon if the car is raced with a bright flame tail on the water surface then, followed by small pieces of debris. The impact of burning rocks could not be observed probably because he was held for the viewer below the horizon. But several minutes later, different-sized tsunami waves hit the east coast of the island. A good hour after the main impact of Helgoland then reached the last and greatest “long wave” that the banks [25].

A reminder of the impressive spectacle of sky could be countless petroglyphs of Northumberland in northern England. Each between two and six concentric rings runs a meandering line through the center. A. The Wiener impact research Tollmann suspected in these figures, a prehistoric depiction of the crash of comet fragments in the North Atlantic [20]. Probably some of the millennia-old rock carvings also refer to the fall of Phaethon.

The impact of Helgoland was at a very small angle of about 4 ° and at a comparatively low speed of 5 km / s. He suggested g despite the recent enormous delay of about 5 as the compact body without rupture before. One clue is in the “Argonautica” of the ancient writer Valerius Flaccus (1st century AD.) Finding that “a black ball went into the river Eridanus into quivering” [3]. Metaphorically Hesiod tells of this moment, which brought the most people living marine death [6, p. 278]:

“The heat of the battle [that Jupiter and Phaethon] took the dark-colored lake.
Heat and fire, thunder and lightning all over this monster, raging storms
and flaming thunderbolts. Hot fire before the earth was everywhere.
The sky glowed and floated on the boiling sea. With furious force
peischten around huge waves of the sea all the land that jutted into the lake
… … endless quake shook the earth ”

It is not yet clear, but the question is to clarify whether there has been an explosion on impact of the main body. According to a tradition of Byzantine J. Antiochenus “God sent during those times, a fireball from the sky down to the giants who lived in the Celtic land, and he burned them and the country, and the ball remained in the river Eridanus stuck and died,” [ 3]. Even rather speaks for an explosion of the testimony of Apollonius of Rhodes (3rd century BC.), which states that “Phaethon chest pierced by a thunderbolt” had been [5, p. 182]. The archaeological finds in the Bronze Age of fire and limit the horizon of the north German moors may indicate an outgoing pressure wave of Helgoland. While in Schleswig-Holstein, the tree remains with their tops all east showed the trees were turned into the marshes of the Emsland region to the south. Especially here testify hundreds of thousands of apparently charred oak, which were recovered in the cultivation of Moore, by an enormous pressure and heat wave. H. Zschweigert saw it as a connection with the collapse and subsequent explosion of a giant meteorite [27]. If its effects were felt in fact still a hundred miles away from Heligoland, then it must have been lying in the opinion of the Dresden Phaethon diameter asteroid researcher Gritzner Ch noticeably exceeded the sixty-foot Tunguska object of 1908 [14, 23].

Having had formed during the impact in fractions of a second submarine crater, there are huge tidal waves spread out in the ring area and devastated the North Sea coastal states. Probably below the North Sea escaped through the subsequent earthquakes for a while toxic gases, and many birds could be the victims “of evil mist” has become. The old tales are quite reliable, because in deep drilling at St. Peter-Ording in 1956 was also foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide set free, which is toxic in high concentrations [7].

Figure 2: Capture and orbits of Phaethon

The consequences for the German Bight within the living people were catastrophic. Probably several thousand deaths resulted because the Bronze Age marshes and coastal areas at that time already had a relatively dense population. Dozens of islands, including those in ancient traditions mentioned capital Amber Island “Basileia” were destroyed and moved the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein by an average of sixty kilometers to the east. The devastation was so persistent that large segments of the population at the end of the 13th century BC. were forced to emigrate from their homeland.

A former Apollo object

About the origin of the now destroyed asteroids presented at 1982 W. Stender first considerations. Since he came from a relative speed of eight kilometers per second, would the aphelion near the orbit of Ceres located [24]. The computer simulation revealed now for the approach phase by 2.24 km / s orbital velocity greater than the Earth. He thus moved during its orbit around the sun, mostly from between the Earth and Mars orbit and approached our planet outside. A close encounter from the inside with a slower speed would have been theoretically possible as well. Diurnal variation of these considerations, however, contradict the Einfangmanövers. Phaethon was therefore an Apollo object, which reached its aphelion at the orbit of Mars, and almost touches the Earth’s orbit near the sun or cut in a relatively small angle. Of all known asteroids over 0.5 km in diameter has Orpheus (No. 3361) regarding the orbital elements, the greatest similarity with the former celestial body (see Table 4).

For example (arrow) could be lost in the crash of Phaethon train (Helgoland in heavy seas, photo Schensky, J. Spanuth from “Atlantis”, 1965).

The employees of Spacewatch, which survey the sky continuously for dangerous orbit cruisers have been introduced for the theoretical possibility of an asteroid collision with Earth, the term NEO (Near Earth Object). Determined for Phaethon orbital elements are already close to the values ??for the members of the so-called “Arjuna” family, a subset of NEOs. They are characterized by small orbital inclinations and eccentricities of around 0.1. Until 1993, only nine “Arjuna” known but there are 60,000 with a diameter greater than one hundred meters suspected [16, p. 112]. The orbits of these asteroids differ so little from the Earth’s orbit that occur after a few ten thousand years has led to a confrontation or a distraction. The Bronze Age asteroid may thus specifically a “Arjuna” have been that flew around with a small tilt to the ecliptic, the sun in about 1.3 years and from it up to 205 million kilometers away (Table 4).

In his final approach to Earth, the asteroid was north of the ecliptic. Therefore, its orbital plane during the transition to a geocentric orbit was tilted heavily. As a temporary satellite of the earth around its orbit now 58.5 ° from the equator, and was even more inclined to the ecliptic. Phaethon had come up from the night side of Earth. His first sighting must be done at dawn as a “fireball” in Central Europe or Greece, because “… the East Aurora opened up in the reddish purple gate of their rose-filled hall” [M. II, 112-115]. About 72 hours later, also in the morning, beat the asteroid in the Helgoland hole.

Not at all unusual events of the disaster is now the year 1220 BC. clarified. An almost unbelievable suspicion turned to 1965 J. Spanuth: Phaethon is said to have its impact on the Earth’s axis to wobble momentarily brought. But otherwise, the following traditional observations from the last third of the 13th Century BC. hardly be interpreted [7]:

“The star has fallen from the sky Anat … and exchanged the two dawns
and the position of the stars “(text from the Syrian Ugarit).
“The constellations of the Bears needed as a result of the conflagration caused by Phaethon
take a bath in the Western Ocean “(according to Nonnus, 6th century AD.).
“The south becomes north and the Earth falls on the front (papyrus Harris, Egypt)
“… Where the sun goes down, there they had twice risen where it rises and now,
they had twice gone down “(Herodotus).
the earth has “forward and backward, right and left, up and down motion” (Plato, Timaeus)
These observations of nature may not only have sprung from the human imagination. Apparently at the end of the Bronze Age occurred an extraordinary event, which unsettled the very people and let them believe in the apocalypse.

Many researchers have tried in vain to find a plausible explanation for the chaotic rotational behavior. Maybe it succeeded to the English scientist P. Warlow in 1978 with an original theory. In his opinion, the space-stable rotation axis and the Earth’s axis, which is determined by the geographic North and South Poles, quite different directions. The gravity of a close to the Earth passing larger celestial body is said to have tilted the axis of the earth at that time. Our planet had it for a time while maintaining the direction of rotation “head” rotates, until finally the North Pole again occupied the same position. In fact, change during this process for a terrestrial observer, the rising and setting way points of the sun. However, because the hypothetical planet of a computer simulation According half times the size of Jupiter would have to have, rejected the theory, astronomers Warlows 1981 again [30].

But it is possible a larger asteroid pass at an oblique impact to the Top “Earth,” a strong tipping pulse and trigger a shift in the Earth’s axis. Phaethon, with an estimated mass of over five million tons struck almost tangentially to the surface. Also was the point of impact at a high latitude. Both factors favor a tilting theory. In practice, however, the geophysical process that actually leads to tip, is still unknown.

Despite the promising approach of P. Warlow on the present discussion will initially remain only a hypothesis. It is in accordance with applicable laws of physics is difficult to imagine that an asteroid is said to have caused an extremely low mass compared to a chaotic planet wobbling or tilting of the Earth’s axis.

The sinking of Atlantis

The fall of Phaethon is also associated with another great mystery of human history, namely the demise of the legendary island of Atlantis. It was first mentioned in the dialogues “Critias” and “Timaeus” of the Greek philosopher Plato. More than 2300 years, scientists have argued over whether Atlantis existed. But half a century ago was the mystery died in 1998 by the scholar Jürgen Spanuth be fundamentally solved, and many researchers agree with him in it [31].

As of now only a thousand hypotheses may explain his theory of the Atlantis expedition against the most powerful countries in the Late Bronze Age world. The so-called early Urnfield people destroyed around 1200 BC. the Hittites and the city states of Greece and were defeated only in Egypt in a great battle. These events were not, as the legend, 9000 years before the visit of the Greek statesman Solon in Egypt instead of (561 BC.), But at the turn of 13 to 12 Century BC. The confusion is due to the fact that the Egyptian priests for a long time next to the solar calendar in use in public life following a lunar calendar and counted the “years” after the revolution of the satellites are included [7, 32].

Part of the attacker, known in the ancient Egyptian papyri as north and the Sea Peoples had SpanUth According to research their homeland in the North and Baltic Sea region. Here the people lived in the 15th district of the Northern to 13 to 13 century BC. at a high level of culture. Their economic, verkehrsgeografisches and cultic center was formerly the much larger island Althelgoland / Altsüdstrand. Ample evidence to show that they may be the desired “King and pillar island” Basileia the Atlantis report was [6, p. 123 ff.] To its location at the mouth of several major rivers, the amber trade and copper mining promoted long before the Bronze Age economic importance of this region. Both the search for the center of Atlantis, and after the antique amber river Eridanus, and led his mouth so independently in the field of Heligoland Bight.

As before, very few researchers, Plato provides at the beginning of his dialogue “Timaeus” (22c) a disclaimer to the destruction caused by the legendary island empire. What the Egyptian priest to the Greek Solon were to communicate, sounds like the recent findings of the impact research surprisingly modern [6, p. 448]:

“… Because what is said to you that once Phaethon, the son of Helios … the surface of the earth, destroyed by fire because he was unable to follow the path of the Father which is in the form reported a myth, but it is truth and based on the deviation of the sky, circling around the earth and the heavenly bodies were made after long periods of destruction on the earth located things by massive fire. ”
Thus was caused by a celestial body sinking of Atlantis is not the first disaster of this kind, but only when it is so detailed handed down to posterity.

As previous findings suggest an important turning point fall of Phaethon was at the end of the Bronze Age. You can clearly show how much influence the impact of asteroids and comets that threaten our civilization and human history.

Many details of the meteorite probably most sinister of the last five thousand years have been solved. A more accurate picture of the natural disaster but one can win only if the suspected submarine crater has been detected and studied at Helgoland. Other scientific surprises are not going to exclude.

and Reference Sources

[1] Ovid, “Metamorphoses”, the German pocket-Verlag Munich, 1997;

Phaethon epic from Book I, verse 750, (quoted in the other with M. I, 750);

[2] by M. Vosseler, 1959, J. Spanuth 1976, p. 224 f.

[3] Engelhardt, W. v., “Phaethon fall, a natural phenomenon?”, 1979 (Proceedings of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences)

[4] Kugler, FX, “Sibylline Star battle and Phaethon,” Aschendorfer Verlagsbuchhandlung, Münster i. W., 1927

[5] Spanuth, J., “Atlantis”, Tübingen, Grabert-Verlag, 1965, p. 81-218

[6] Spanuth, J., “The Atlanteans,” Grabert-Verlag Tübingen, 1976, p. 224-284

[7] Spanuth, J. “A vindication of Plato”, issue 39 of the series of the German Academy of Education and Culture in Munich, 1992

[8] Goldmann, K. “On the Function of Co-ditch at Haithabu,” Materials for Pre-and Early History of Hesse 8, Wiesbaden 1999, (proof of canals in the Viking Age)

[9] The timing of the explosion is very controversial (to 1645 BC. BC to 1220.), But only adopted by C. Blegen and J. Spanuth late date can satisfactorily explain certain aspects of Egyptian history.

[10] Stender, W. “War Phaethon a planetoid?”, Unpublished manuscript, 1982, “The reality of the Phaethon legend”, in: “At the limits of our knowledge”, Volume 1, CTT-Verlag Suhl, 1997; S . 59-98

[11] This celestial body should not be confused with the 1983 discovered asteroid of the same name (No. 3200) and a hypothetical destroyed planet between Mars and Jupiter’s orbit, the term “planetoid” is synonymous with “Asteroid” and “dwarf planet”;

[12] Meier, G. “The German early days was very different,” Grabert-Verlag Tübingen, 1999

[13] “Ancient legends on the track” in the Saxon newspaper of 03.03.1978.;

[14] Gritzner, C., “Comets and asteroids,” AVIATIC Verlag, Oberhaching, 1999, p. 59

[15] W. Stender suspected an oil-like substance, as Indian traditions speak of “naphtha”, discovered in the Kuiper belt object Quaoar in 2002 also has a tarred surface that Duch was the effect of UV radiation (Der Spiegel 42/2002 )

[16] Lewis, JS “bombs from space”, Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, Boston, Berlin, 1997; S.123f (approach speed 10.1 km / s; Perigäumshöhe 58 km, diameter 15-80 m)

[17] The distance of 500,000 km was chosen arbitrarily by the author. The effect of the gravitational sphere of the Earth-Moon system reaches a maximum of 930,000 km. Be reduced at this boundary problem has to capture clear, because small gravitational disturbances at apogee already considerable impact on the flight behavior in Perigäumsnähe.

[18] Asphaug, E. “minor planets in close-up” in “Scientific American”; Dossier 3 / 2001, p. 50 – 57;

[19] briefl. Release, 20.1.1999 O. Posdzeich, Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Technical University of Dresden: cw = 0.9 … 2.5 for an ideal sphere, rising linearly from 0 to h = h = 100 km altitude;

“And the flood it was still” [20] Toll, A. and E., Droemersche Th.Knaur Nachf Verlagsanstalt, Munich 1993, (paperback edition 1995)

[21] W. Stender suspected a diameter of 2-3 km before the capture, the Berlin Impact Research Prof. D. Stöffler only 20 m on impact;

[22] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 09.12.1970, quoted in Spanuth 1976, p. 236

[23] Communications iJ Ch.Gritzner 2002 by the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Technical University of Dresden

[24] in all calculations for probable heliocentric orbit of Phaethon was assumed to be tangent to the Earth’s orbit (or a very small cutting angle), because the probability that a close encounter is growing strongly.

[25] tsunami waves propagate at 700-800 km / h and reach with large impactors when it strikes the coast, a level which corresponds to the water depth at the impact site;. Sat Tollman, 1993, p. 48

[26] According to a study by geologist I. Reinwald in 1937, also in “Ecological catastrophe in connection with the impact of the Kaali meteorite about 800-400 BC on the Iceland of Saaremaa, Estonia” in Meteoritics & Planetary Science 36, 1367-1375, 2001 S. Veski, A. Heinsalu, K. Kirsimae, A. Poska, L. Saarse

[27] briefl. Communication from H. Zschweigert on 09/16/1992 at J. Spanuth a visit to the museum in Great Moor Hesepe.

[28] “Forgotten Worlds”, Moewig Verlag Rastatt 1994; licensed edition of Little, Brown and Company Limited, London

[29] 11.12 km / s is the velocity of a satellite in its perigee near the surface when the Apogäumshöhe is 500,000 km, see also [17];

[30] James, P. and Thorpe, N. “Halley, megalithic, standing stones,” Sanssouci Verlag Zurich, 2001, p. 150 ff

[31] recommended reading and discussion of best hypotheses in Atlantis: Gadow, G., “The Atlantis dispute”, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt aM, 1973

Franke, A., “Atlantis – delusion or reality”, Mannus-Verlag Hückeswagen, Mannus-Bibliothek Bd 11, 1978

Kehnscherper, G., “The Search for Atlantis”, Urania-Verlag Leipzig, Jena, Berlin, 1978 Kehnscherper, G., “The Search for Atlantis”, Urania-Verlag Leipzig, Jena, Berlin, 1978

[32] 9000 lunar months calculated back into the lead around 1250 BC to 1230., From shortly before the fall of Atlantis in 1220 BC.


Herzlichen Dank an Herrn Dr. Christian Gritzner für die ausführlichen Anmerkungen zu meinem Manuskript und die wertvollen fachlichen Hinweise.