Typhon in Greek mythology is described as a winged serpentine monster who fought Zeus for control of the cosmos and lost. He first appeared in Greek literature in the writings of Homer and Hesiod(b). Many castastrophists have identified the story of Typhon as a description of a close encounter and/or possible impact by a comet. Some atlantologists have endeavoured to link Typhon with Plato’s Atlantis.
Jürgen Spanuth [15.178] and Walter Baucum [183.36], among others, identified Typhon with Phaëton, while decades later Axel Famiglini proposed that Typhon had destroyed Atlantis located in the Atlantic.
Others have identified Typhon as the comet of Exodus(a), just one of the many speculative suggestions that the myth has generated. However, it is hard not to think that there may have been some real historical event behind the evolution of the story.
Sodom & Gomorrah along wth Zoar, Admah and Zeboim constituted the Cities of the Plain referred to in the Bible and believed to have been situated in the Jordan Valley before their obliteration (apart from Zoar) in a catastrophic episode during the 2nd millennium BC. Explanations, religious and rational have been offered to explain the event. My preferred explanation is that an encounter with an extraterrestrial body such as a comet or asteroid caused the devastation(d).
>In 2008, a Sumerian clay tablet, known as the ‘Planisphere’ in the British Museum, was, after 150 years, translated and claimed to record an encounter with an asteroid ‘suspected of being behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.(e)<
In October 2015, there were reports that the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah had been finally located(a). November 2018 saw a further claim(b) that Sodom and possibly other the ‘cities of the plain’ had been destroyed by a meteoric airburst, similar to the Tunguska or the more recent Chelyabinsk events. This catastrophe took place north of the Red Sea in what is now Jordan according to archaeologist Phillip Silvia of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque.
Silvia’s conclusions have been confirmed by Dr. Steven Collins(c) who has excavated at the Tell el-Hammam site and describes his findings in his book co-authored with Dr. Latayne C. Scott, Discovering the City of Sodom .
In Atlantis and other Lost Worlds , Frank Joseph claims that Comet Encke in 1198 BC “scores a number of meteoric hits along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and possibly on Atlantis itself, which perishes ‘in a single day and night’, according to Plato. The catastrophe is global, encompassing the destruction of the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah” Joseph bases this on the studies of two Swedish geologists, Thomas B. Larsson and Lars Franzén.
This linkage of Sodom with Atlantis is not new. In the 18th century, Carl Friedrich Baër (1719-1797) who was pastor at the Lutheran chapel in the Swedish Embassy in Paris, was possibly the first to propose a connection between the demise of Atlantis and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
A similar theory was proposed by Roger M. Pearlman in a 2018 booklet , . In this small, difficult to read, book the author also suggests, a linkage between the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah and Atlantis, placeing Atlantis in the Jordan Valley and equating Abraham with Atlas – “If Atlas as described in Plato’s work was based on a historic figure, Abraham alone meets key criteria.”
On a lighter note, in 1948, William Comyns Beaumont published an extraordinary book, Britain – The Key to World History , in which he claimed among other things, that Edinburgh was the original Jerusalem, London was Damascus and rather worryingly, that Bristol was Sodom.
See: Köfels Impact
Gernot Spielvogel is a German marine geologist who has studied the Atlantis question for over 15 years and has concluded that it had been located in or near the Azores. He attributes the destruction of Atlantis to an encounter with a comet which split into seven pieces, some of which landed in the Alps and Vietnam as well as the Azores region.
He claims to have fragments of the impactor as well as artefacts to support his theory on display in the Atlantis-Institut in Überlingen on Lake Constance.*Unfortunately, the Institute closed following the death of Tollmann. However, it was revived under the name of forschungszentrum-atlantida (Atlantis Research Centre)(b). Although the new entity still includes Atlantis research among its activities, it has expanded into other areas, including Climate Research, Enlightenment and Archaic Medicine among others. The latter seems to be managed by Regina Rohrmüller-Spielvogel who claims to have discovered the healing properties of precious stones and minerals. At this point I felt Atlantis slipping away!
In 2013, Gernot Spielvogel co-authored Sonnenbomben in which it is suggested that the Tunguska event was caused by a solar plasma ‘bomb’.
The Carolina Bays are named after the bay trees found growing in the 500,000 mysterious oval shaped depressions, principally located in the eastern states of North America. In Maryland, the bays are called Maryland basins. In Mississippi and Alabama they’re called Grady ponds. In Kansas and Nebraska they’re called Rainwater basins. In Texas they’re called Salinas (because they often contain salty water).
Their characteristics have been presented as evidence of impact damage from a comet or asteroid. This view is hotly disputed, as is the idea that they are of relatively recent origin at the beginning of the Holocene. Emilio Spedicato is one proponent who considers that a relatively recent impact to have been a contributory fact to the ending of the last Ice Age leading to the demise of Atlantis.
A more mundane explanation has been recently offered by Jon Pelletier, assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has just published a paper on a series of uniformly shaped and oriented lakes on North Slope of Alaska. Pelletier has offered a credible ‘thaw slumping’ rationalisation for their annual growth. However, I have not seen his explanation for their existence in the first place. Pelletier’s explanation(a) for the Carolinas is based on the dissolving of the underlying limestone in a manner that generated lakes with a uniform orientation. Although he admitted that at that time (2005) his solution is “very speculative”.
The cometary explanation was given additional support in 2007 when a team of researchers from Oregon University outlined evidence that included the Carolinas, for the disintegration of a comet over Eastern Canada around 10900 BC. They claim that apart from the initiation of the Younger Dryas period, it caused widespread destruction across North America and also led to the disappearance of the Clovis culture. Further evidence supporting this view(b) was advanced by other academics in 2008.
Nevertheless, there is also evidence from optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating that the bays were formed 80,000 -100,000 years BP, which conflicts with the YD date! My layman’s view is that after 80,000 year I would expect the bays to be much more eroded than they appear to be.
A more recent paper(e) by Antonio Zamora offers an important new concept, namely that the ‘bays’ were created by a meteorite striking the Laurentide Ice Sheet that existed in the Great Lakes region, during the last Ice Age, which in turn produced an enormous hail of ice ejecta which rained down on the eastern seaboard of what is now the United States. In his conclusion he claims “that the new model of slow-velocity impacts from ice ejecta resulting from a meteorite impact on the Laurentide ice sheet explains many of the characteristics of the Carolina Bays, including the lack of shock metamorphism and meteorite fragments.” Zamora has also published in 2012 an ebook entitled Meteorite Cluster Impacts(f), and in his 2015 book, Solving the Mystery of the Carolina Bays, he expands on his theory that the ‘Bays’ were created as a result of an extraterrestrial impact with the Laurentide Ice Sheet. He describes in great detail the mathematical basis for his views.
Zamora, has now had a new paper on the ‘Bays’ published in the peer-reviewed journal, Geomorphology(i), which may help to rekindle discussion on the subject. Although, in my opinion, they are not directly related to the Atlantis narrative, the existence of the Carolina Bays provide very obvious evidence of our catastrophic past.
Ralph Ellis believes that Zamora’s ‘blocks of ice’ ejecta created by the impact should be thought of instead as being more akin to softer ‘slushballs’(g)(h).
*Robert W. Felix, an American architect totally rejects the ice ejecta theory, principally on the grounds that the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) should have disappeared before the creation of the Carolina Bays(l). However, conventional wisdom dates the decline of the LIS to around 9,600 BC(m), coincidental with the arrival of the Carolina Bats! Felix contends in one of his books  that the Bays were formed by millions of gigantic explosions in the sky, explosions triggered by a magnetic reversal!*
The serial sceptic, Paul Heinrich, claims(d) that there is dating evidence, which indicates varying dates for the creation of different Carolinas. The most recent popular work to discuss comprehensively, the origin as well as the conflicting dating evidence for the Carolinas, is The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes by Firestone, West and Warwick-Smith. This is an important book that is primarily concerned with a cosmic catastrophe that wiped out the North American mammoth along with other large animals at the same time that the Clovis People disappeared 13,000 years ago. This was also the time of the colder Younger Dryas period.
When the Russian investigator Leonard Kulik studied the Tunguska River area, over which a meteor/asteroid exploded in 1908, he discovered a number of neat oval bog holes that might offer support for either the impact theory or more improbably the theories of Pelletier.
Now, over a century after the Tunguska event, an Italian research team have concluded that it was an asteroid that struck the earth and that nearby Lake Cheko is the impact crater(c).
In 2013 Gernot Spielvogel co-authored Sonnenbomben in which it is suggested that the Tunguska event was caused by a solar plasma ‘bomb’!>Even Nikola Tesla was blamed by some as the perpetrator of the Tunguska event(n).<
Nevertheless, various other theories are still under investigation, including serious consideration of the possibility of an alien spaceship explosion!(j)
(a) See: Archive 2042
(g) https://independent.academia.edu/ralphellis4 see (h)
Asteroids, Comets and Meteoroids are all relatively small objects that inhabit our Solar System. When any of them have orbits that intersect with that of the Earth they are known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs. Asteroids (a word coined by William Herschel [1738-1822]) used to be known as minor planets, while meteoroids is the name applied to asteroids that are less than 50 metres in diameter, although some use 10 metres as the classification threshold.
Meteorites have had a history of being considered divine in origin, leading to different levels of veneration in various cultures(v). In the 2nd century, Clement of Alexandria is said to have concluded that “the worship of such stones to have been the first, and earliest idolatry, in the world.”
What is probably the first recorded death from a meteorite strike took place in India in February 2016(z).
Comets, until recently, were generally thought to be composed of just dust and ice, ‘dirty snowballs’, which have orbits that periodically bring them close to the sun at which stage the interaction of the comet’s dust trail with the solar wind produces a highly visible coma or tail. The nucleus can have a diameter of a couple of kilometres.
The chemical composition of comets is now known to be varied and much more complex than previously believed. In 2015, Comet Lovejoy was ejecting the equivalent of “500 bottles of wine every second” when it was closest to the sun, in the form of ethyl alcohol(w). A close encounter with the Earth would have been interesting!
In 1883 a large comet is estimated to have come within a few hundred miles of Earth. It was photographed and some years later the image was hailed as the first image of an UFO!
In recent years comets have come to been seen as potentially more dangerous than asteroids in the event of a collision. This view was graphically demonstrated when the Levy-Shoemaker comet crashed spectacularly into Jupiter in 1994, after breaking up into as many as 21 large pieces before impacting. This comet was originally about 20 km in diameter. However, the distinction between comets and asteroids has been blurred by asteroids sometimes displaying the features of comets, such as asteroid P2013/P5, which in 2013 produced six cometary-like tails.
In 1752, the French astronomer, Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, expressed the view that “However dangerous might be the shock of a comet, it might be so slight, that it would only do damage at the part of the Earth where it actually struck” and with coincidental foresight added “ Perhaps we should be very surprised to find that the debris of these masses that we despised were formed of gold and diamonds” considering how Richard Firestone and his associates more recently used the existence of nanodiamonds to confirm the cometary impact of 11,000 BC over North America.
Asteroids and comets have blamed for the demise of Atlantis since the end of the 18th century. It was the Italian polymath, Giovanni Rinaldo Carli, who in 1788 declared that part of a passing comet hit the Earth and was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis. A century later in his second book on Atlantis, Ignatius Donnelly similarly claimed that a comet’s collision with Earth was the cause of Atlantis’ destruction(af). Comets rather than asteroids were initially blamed because of their high visibility. However, as our technology advanced and we gradually became aware of the number of large asteroids that intersect with the Earth’s orbit they replaced comets as the more likely cause of historical impacts.
>For some decades, Bob Kobres has been studying the evdence for cometary encounters contained in ancient mythologies and their possible association with known events(ah) such as the creation of the Carolina Bays or the Bronze Age Collapse(ag).<
The early part of the 20th century saw the eccentric William Comyns Beaumontand the mysterious Hans Schlindler Bellamy both supporting the idea of Atlantis being destroyed by an encounter with an extraterrestrial object. The theory has been adopted by a growing number of popular modern writers such as Otto Muck, Egerton Sykes, Andrew Collins, Paul Dunbavin, Karl Jürgen Hepke(a), Frank Joseph explains[102.108] how a number of scholars encouraged by Muck, came forward to publicly state their belief that Atlantis had been destroyed by an extraterrestrial impact or impacts: “They included the world’s foremost authority on Halley’s Comet, Dr. M.M. Kamienski, a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences; Professor N. Bonev, one of the 20th century’s leading astronomers at the University of Sofia, in Bulgaria; and Jack Hills, of the prestigious Los Alamos National Laboratory”.
>In 1971, Sykes’ Atlantis magazine devoted an entire issue to the matter of impact craters around the globe(ak).<
Emilio Spedicato of the University of Bergamo has written(b) and lectured widely on his hypothesis that the last Ice Age was started by an extraterrestrial impact over a continent and ended with a similar event over an ocean. This second impact was the cause of Atlantis’ destruction and Spedicato specifies Hispaniola as containing the location of its capital.
Spedicato is not alone in believing that impacts by large objects have been responsible for the triggering of past Ice Ages. As we have seen a large number of writers have suggested an impact with the Earth as the primary or at least the secondary cause of the destruction of Atlantis(d). These cosmic collisions have occurred throughout the history of our planet, continuing to this day. Most of the impact material is small and burns up in the atmosphere. Some low-density objects have penetrated the atmosphere, but disintegrated before actually impacting, generating powerful shock waves commensurate with their size. Such an event was the well known Tunguska(i) explosion over that area of Siberia in 1908.
Commenting on the Tunguska event Stephen E. Franklin added that “Less than five hours after the Tunguska object exploded at 7:14 AM local time in Siberia, another fireball was seen over Kagarlyk near Kiev in what is now Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire) at around 7:00 AM local time followed by the impact of a 1.912 kg stony meteorite.”(ad)
>The most recent (April, 2020) Tunguska theory is that it could have been caused by iron asteroid partially entering and then leaving atmosphere!(aj) The most bizarre Tunguska suggestion is that it was the result of experiments carried out by Nikola Tesla(al).<
Two similar explosions occurred over South America in the 1930’s. However, some are large enough to survive the journey to the surface. Depending on the size, density, speed and angle of approach, the consequences of a large impact are difficult for the average person to appreciate. As Austen Atkinson wrote “A single impact by a rock the size of (London’s) Millennium Dome could devastate the surface of the globe with an explosive release of energy five times more powerful than the entire world’s nuclear arsenal. On 19 May 1996, just such an object came within 280,000 miles of Earth: six hours from collision. Humankind could have been eradicated.”
The most famous impact is probably that which in the Yucatan took place 66 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs. A recent (2019) paper(ae) reports that “excavations in North Dakota reveal fossils of fish and trees that were blasted with rocky, glassy fragments that fell from the sky. The deposits show evidence also of having been swamped with water – the consequence of the colossal sea surge that was generated by the impact.”
11 million years later another impact in the Atlantic is credited with the expansion of the mammals according to a new study by co-author, Dennis Kent from Rutgers University.
An online calculator of impact effects was developed by scientists at Purdue University and Imperial College, London was first published in 2004 and recently updated(g).
By 2009 175 large impact craters have been discovered all over our planet, many more are undiscovered having been destroyed over time by wind and water erosion or hidden by vegetation. In 2006, a crater with a diameter of 30 km was discovered in the Southern Egyptian desert. This discovery may solve a mystery in the same region that has baffled science for over seventy years, namely, the Libyan desert glass that covers an area 60 x 100 km. However, the largest known impact crater is the Vredefort crater in South Africa with a diameter of 300 km (186 miles). But this may have to take second place to the 300 mile wide crater identified in Hudson Bay in North America.
The spectacular collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter in July 1994 and the manner in which it disintegrated into a number of huge pieces before impacting over seven days, may offer one possible explanation for the mechanism that could produce the apparent clustering of 3rd millennium BC impacts on Earth.
The current estimate is that there are more than 2,000 asteroids exceeding a kilometre in size together with 10,000 over half a kilometre plus millions of smaller items in Earth-crossing orbits; collectively known as ‘Apollo objects‘. The meteor that exploded over central Russia in February 2013 belonged to this Apollo group. Add to this the risk from comets, normally larger than asteroids, and it is obvious that large-scale impacts are inevitable, however infrequent. The good news is that in 2011 it was reported that a NASA space telescope recorded a 40% reduction in their earlier calculation(j) which should be compared with the assessment referred to(f) at the end of the last paragraph of this entry. May 2012 saw further estimates being published(l).
Terminology, definitions and number estimates are constantly changing. Asteroids that are in excess of 100m across with orbits that that come within 7.5 million km of Earth are now referred to as PHAs (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids). As of June 2014 the IAU has listed 1,466 PHAs, while NASA estimates put the actual total in excess of 4,700(q).
As recently as 1953 an asteroid impact with the Moon was photographed as a flash and only in 2002 was the resulting 2Km- wide crater identified. The estimated energy released by this 300 metre wide object on impact would have been half a Megaton of TNT (35 times the Hiroshima bomb). A hit of this magnitude on Earth could have wiped out a large city.
It must be kept in mind that the immediate damage caused by actual impact itself is only the beginning of the story; tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes together with worldwide long-term dust veils could trigger climate change leading to ongoing adverse effects on vegetation and animal life. For humans this meant death, destruction, floods, repeated crop failures and probably a breakdown in any existing civil order.
It was as recent as the 1930’s that geologists were being told that Meteor Crater in the Arizona desert was the only known evidence that an impact, with worldwide consequences, had ever taken place. It was also in the 1930’s that the first of the Apollo objects were identified. Since then, the number of large identifiable impact craters grew to hundreds and the number of Apollo objects, whose impact would have global implications, became thousands. It then became obvious that the Earth as we know it is at serious risk. World authorities are slowly realising that the probability of similar impacts in the future are simply inevitable.
Until recently, statistical analysis indicates a major impact every 10,000 years; with the last such event occurred 12,000 years ago possibly destroying Atlantis, directly or indirectly. However, in 2006, this estimate was revised downward to a major collision every 1,000 years with the last impact having taken place around 2800 BC, in the Indian Ocean, where an 18-mile diameter crater has been discovered at a depth of 12,500 feet.
However, a paper(x) published in October 2015 has suggested that a study of mass extinctions over the past 260 million year appear to have taken place every 26 million years coinciding with major asteroid/comet impacts.
So far 175 large impact craters(e) have been discovered all over our planet, many more are undiscovered having been destroyed over time by wind and water erosion or hidden by vegetation. In 2006, a crater with a diameter of 30km was discovered in the southern Egyptian desert. This discovery may solve a mystery in the same region that has baffled science for over seventy years, namely, the Libyan desert glass that covers an area 60 x 100 km. However, the largest known impact crater is the Vredefort crater n South Africa with a diameter of 300km (186 miles). But this may have to take second place to the 300 mile wide crater identified in Hudson Bay in North America. A 2015 report tells of two impact zones that total more than 400 kilometres across, which were identified in the Warburton Basin in Central Australia(t).
Although it appears that similar suggestions have been made since the 1950’s, the debate has now reached a new level. The Hudson Bay feature has generated even greater interest since Richard Firestone, a nuclear physicist together with Allen West and Simon Warwick-Smith published their claim that it was created around 11,000 BC and had human witnesses who preserved their memory of it in their local folklore and that may have been responsible for the extermination of the Clovis people(ai). Firestone’s tentative 11,000 BC date for this event is earlier than Plato’s even more questionable 9600 BC date for the destruction of Atlantis might be connected since the event described by Firestone & Co. would have had global consequences and could have effected any suggested Atlantis location. In 2007, at a news conference during Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union, in Acapulco, Mexico, two archaeologists from the University of Oregon, Douglas J. Kennett and Jon M. Erlandson added geological evidence to support to Firestone’s thesis. In 2008 evidence of an exploding comet/asteroid over Canada during the same period was presented(c) by other academics from the University of Cincinnati. However, it must be noted that the Firestone hypothesis has encountered some criticism since the start of 2009 and must therefore be treated with due caution. This criticism appears to be gaining support according to a May 2011 report(h). In June 2012, James Kennett, son of Douglas Kennet mentioned above, was part of a team who announced further evidence of a major impact event 13,000 years ago extending from Pennsylvania and South Carolina as far as Syria(m).
Dr Reinoud de Jonge has written a number of articles(d) that drew on petroglyphs in Brittany to support his contention that the Earth had an encounter with a cometary body in 2345 BC. This would appear to complement the work of Mike Baillie and George Dodwell, who echoed William Whiston’s proposed date of 2346 BC, for an encounter with a comet that caused the biblical Deluge.
Since only 30% of our globe is exposed land, it is reasonable to conclude that 70% of impacts will have hit water, leaving little lasting evidence. However, at least ten of these identified impact craters occurred after the last Ice Age and at least seven of which date from around the third millennium BC, at period when there were widespread cultural collapses.
In a recent book the renowned dendrochronologist, Mike Baillie, has outlined compelling evidence from his own discipline combined with ancient mythologies to support the idea of extraterrestrial impacts in early historical times. May I suggest that the mythologies that possibly relate to multiple impacts are in fact recollections of a comet that had been visible for some time before breaking up under the gravitational influence of our planet prior to impact? This idea was developed by Baillie in a subsequent book written with Patrick McCafferty that focused on Celtic mythological figures. Comets rather than asteroids are more likely to have contributed to the development of myths since an asteroid would not have been visible long enough for it to develop an identity that would be remembered in legend. Graham Phillips has gone further and proposed that a close encounter with a comet in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC triggered the development of monotheism at that time. Furthermore, he contends that as the Earth passed through this comet’s tail, it introduced large quantities of an amino acid, vasopressin that heightened aggression in humans leading to large scale conflicts worldwide. This comet, 12P/Pons-Brooks is due for another close encounter with Earth in 2024.
A 2012 paper(o) by Fernando Coimbra investigates the influence of unusual astronomical events, in particular comets, on the subject matter of rock art. An earlier paper(p) by Coimbra looks at the swastika as a specific example of a reflection of such an event.
Mythologies, worldwide, offer evidence of these impacts and have been subsequently reinforced by classical writers who describe in non-scientific terms the effects of these extraterrestrial assaults. Pliny wrote in his Natural History (Book II, sec 91) of ‘A terrible comet was seen by the people of Ethiopia and Egypt, to which Typhon, the king of that period, gave his name; it had a fiery appearance and was twisted like a coil, and it was very grim to behold: it was not really a star so much as what might be called a ball of fire.’
Similarly the Greek myth of Phaëton has been interpreted as a record of an encounter with a comet. Edith and Alexander Tollmann also identified an 11,000 BC impact with the Köfels region of the Austrian Tyrol as one of the impact zones. The interpretation of ancient legends and myths is obviously a matter of subjective response, but the volume of such evidence is so great that the probability of a number of major impacts being within the memory of man, who relayed the experience down to us through the medium of tradition, is quite high.
The fact that our Earth is continually at risk of a cosmic collision, the physical evidence of recent and past collisions, the recording of impacts on the Moon and Jupiter compounded with stories in ancient mythologies offer strong grounds for accepting the possibility of Atlantis being destroyed as a result of a collision with an extraterrestrial object as a credible working hypothesis.
While an asteroid impact causing the destruction of Atlantis is relatively easy to accept, some authors have proposed even more dramatic scenarios where the impact was so great that it caused the Poles to change position and/or the Earth’s outer mantle to move relative to the inner core. There is little doubt that cosmic collisions of all the possible natural catastrophes pose the greatest possible threat to life on earth. There is an interesting website(c) that discusses both catastrophes and Atlantis. Another site(e) has a small collection of images of impact craters as seen from space. 2010 produced a frightening upward reassessment of the asteroid threat(f).
In 2001, NASA(k) identified 1,000 asteroids and comets orbiting close to Earth that are capable of causing catastrophic damage to our planet in the event of a collision. An interesting map was published(n) in February 2013 showing the locations of 34,513 impacts dating back to 2300 BC.
Recent deliberate encounters with comets and asteroids have produced images and data that have raised questions about the traditional description of comets being composed of ice and rock. The lines between asteroids and comets are becoming increasingly blurred and new definitions required(r). The trend now is to see asteroids and comets as part of a continuum. Evidence is emerging that the H20 previously associated with comets may have been OH radicals(s).
The 2014 landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko would appear to have destroyed the ‘dirty snowball’ description of comets, coined in 1950 by the noted astronomer, Fred Whipple, and should now be abandoned.
Although large asteroids or comets have caused and will again cause global catastrophes on a scale that we can only imagine, they are not the greatest potential threat to our existence. It is estimated that our galaxy, as in others, are also home to free-floating giant gas planets untethered to any star, which, if they wandered our way, could not only obliterate our planet but de-stabilise our solar system.(u)
Terry Westerman offers a fascinating overview of possible global impact sites on his fully illustrated website(y).
Fortunately, the death and destruction caused by comets is balanced by the probability that they are also the source of life on our planet. This idea is gaining greater acceptance with a further paper(aa) offering additional supportive evidence published in April 2016.
Nevertheless, improved vigilance is required if we are to believe Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario, whose research in 2014 concluded(ab) that hazardous asteroids are 10 times more likely to hit Earth than previously thought!
(q) BBC Focus Magazine, July 2014, page 67.
(ak) Atlantis, Volume 24, Nos 3/4, April-July, 1971.
Radiocarbon Dating was developed by a team led by Willard F. Libby (1908-1980) just after World War II and won him a Nobel Prize for the work. However, in his acceptance speech Libby generously acknowledged the contribution made by the earlier work of Serge Korff (1906-1989).
Radiocarbon Dating is based on the fact that when organisms die the amount of Carbon-14 in the remains decay at a fixed rate. Although initially hailed as a definitive dating method for organic remains, it soon became obvious that it was not quite as reliable a tool as initially thought, although still widely used.
Originally a Carbon-14 half-life of 5568±30 years was used and is known as the Libby half-life. Later this was revised to 5730±40 years and is known as the Cambridge half-life. The initial theory was based on the assumption that Carbon-14 was being produced at a constant rate. However, this constancy has been questioned, as it can vary as a result of changes in the earth’s magnetic field. The intervention of man in the form of atomic bomb tests briefly doubled the amount of Carbon-14 produced(I). Local events can also have a dramatic effect on measurements; for example, the Tunguska explosion left the soil there so enriched with Carbon-14 that it gives a date in the future (1)! Emilio Spedicato has also pointed out that Carbon-14 can be created in the atmosphere by any cometary or asteroidal impact and so alter the assumed constant ratio of C12 to C14.
Immanuel Velikovsky offered the following valuable observation(j) “as the method was refined, it started to show rather regular anomalies. First, it was noticed that, when radiocarbon dated, wood grown in the 20th century appears more ancient than wood grown in the 19th century. Suess explained the phenomenon by the fact that the increased industrial use of fossil carbon in coal and in oil changed the ratio between the dead carbon C12 and the C14 (radiocarbon) in the atmosphere and therefore also in the biosphere. In centuries to come a body of a man or animal who lived and died in the 20th century would appear paradoxically of greater age since death than the body of a man or animal of the 19th century, and if the process of industrial use of fossil, therefore dead, carbon continues to increase, as it is expected will be the case, the paradox will continue into the forthcoming centuries.”
Graham Phillips mentions that ‘recent evidence suggests that that the level of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere may have decreased permanently around 3,500 years ago due to changes in the earth’s magnetic field.’ This has resulted in dates around that period being up to 500 year out. Calibration figures are now available to take account of some of these deviations based on data from dendrochronology, ice and sediment cores and coral samples. Further refinements are not to be ruled out.
These weaknesses in radiocarbon dating have been seized upon by some fundamentalist Christian groups determined to justify their ‘young earth’ beliefs(d). However, attacks on the basic concepts underlying radiocarbon dating have been refuted by its supporters(e).
In 774/5 AD an increase of 1.2% of Carbon14 was detected through tree ring studies(c). This is thought to be the result of an external event such as a supernova or solar flare. Since many other episodes of a lesser or greater intensity have probably occurred, a growing shadow is being cast over the reliability of radiocarbon dating that may only be dissipated by further studies. Clearly, further complex recalibration is not to be ruled out, as it is highly unlikely that this eight century event was the only such occurrence.
A recent report(h) has drawn attention to the danger of using fossil fuels, as it pumps a type of carbon into the atmosphere that confuses the dating technique. Scientists say that by 2050, new clothes could have the same radiocarbon date as items 1,000 years old!
Radiocarbon dating is only useful up to a maximum of around 50,000 years. In February 2010, researchers at Queens University Belfast announced a new calibration curve that extends back over the 50 millennia. The production of this calibration curve is the result of 30 years research into the variations in atmospheric Carbon 14 caused by solar activity, the earth’s magnetic field and the oceans. Other radiometric dating methods are now available to deal with dates beyond this limit.
2010 also saw another important refinement of radiocarbon dating with the development of a ‘non-destructive carbon dating’ method which will enable the dating of very delicate, rare or highly valuable artefacts, without having to destroy any samples from them, as is required at present(a).
One strong dissenting voice was that of archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, former Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities who said “Carbon-14 dating has a margin of error of 100 years. In order to date Egyptian dynasties, we need to have specific dates; you cannot use carbon dating,” Hawass explained further to Al-Masry Al-Youm. “This technique shouldn’t be used at all in making changes to the chronology of the ancient Egypt, not even as a helpful addition.”. Incidentally, in April 2015, Hawass walked out of a debate with Graham Hancock over the inclusion of an image of Robert Bauval in Hancock’s presentation(g).
Emmet Sweeney tells a disturbing story of how some establishments have treated inconvenient C14 results, recounting[700.221] “the fate of samples from the tomb of Tutankhamun subjected by the British Museum to radiocarbon testing. The samples, consisting of fibers of a reed mat and a palm kernel, produced dates of 844BC and 899BC respectively. These were broadly in line with the date for Tutankhamun predicted by Velikovsky, but roughly 500 years too recent for textbook chronology. In spite of assurances given to Velikovsky that the results would be published, they never saw the light of day.” [758.xvi]
In Forgotten Civilization and his earlier Pyramid Quest, Robert Schoch has drawn attention to a number of difficulties that have arisen with radiocarbon dating and the implications for Egyptology. A warning about future difficulties with the reliability of radiocarbon dating has been issued by Heather Graven, a climate-physics researcher at Imperial College London. She has found that the rate of fossil-fuel emissions is skewing the carbon ratios used to determine an object’s age. She estimates that by 2050 atmospheric carbon dioxide will make new organic material appear to be 1,000 years old(2). Graham Hancock has also expressed reservations regarding the use of radiocarbon dating, urging both caution and open-mindedness(m).
An even more jaundiced view of current dating difficulties is expressed(l) by Jonathan Gray.
One of these, namely, the potassium/argon method has been claimed by writers such as Richard Milton to have its own inherent problems and must be treated with caution. It appears that although dating methods have advanced greatly further improvements can be expected.
The latest refinement of radiocarbon dating techniques has shortened the time taken from six days to two and additionally, now allows on-site testing(f).
The Malagabay website(n) posted a series of blogs through April 2017 under the heading of ‘Deranged Dating’ highlighting weaknesses in radiocarbon dating!
There is now a valuable list of papers(o), with links, devoted to the many problems that have gradually emerged in relation to radiocarbon dating. This just part of the ‘A New Chronology’ website(p).
June 2018 saw a report issued from Cornell University that highlighted some inaccuracies that have been found in dates relating to the southern Levant region, which includes parts of Jordan, Israel and Egypt.Archaeologist Sturt Manning and his colleagues “have revealed variations in the radiocarbon cycle at certain periods of time, affecting frequently cited standards used in archaeological and historical research.” (q)
Currently, standard calibration curves assume that at any given time radiocarbon levels are similar and stable everywhere across each hemisphere. It seems therefore that the calibration of radiocarbon dates will have to take regional factors into consideration in future. In March 2020 a further study(r) from Cornell confirmed the value of regional calibration, which can now be applied to contentious issues such as the date of Tutankhamun’s death and the eruption of Thera (Santorini).
(1) New Scientist (7/9/02, p.14)
(2) Fortean Times (FT340) May 2016, p.16