4/11/2013

Postmarked June 29, 3123 BC


Recently I caught a glimpse of a program on the History Channel about a clay tablet carved in Nineveh, the ancient capital of Babylon, circa 700 BC. The tablet was professed to have recorded the exact date of the Sodom and Gomorrah apocalypse. They called it the “Sumerian Planisphere”. A planisphere is a small round disk astronomers use to create a map of the heavens. Backyard astronomers still use them today, but instead of carving them in clay, they are made of printed paper or plastic disks which they rotate to create a map of the nighttime sky at any date or time.


Even more intriguing is that part of the inscription mentions this tablet was copied from a tablet made 2000 years earlier. This puts the original tablet at about 3000 BC and the phenomena it recorded occurring, literally, at the dawn of civilization. An event of such magnitude, the ancient people of Mesopotamia inscribed it in clay, copied it, and passed down from generation to generation.

The artifact was excavated at Nineveh in 1912 by Henry Layard. He cataloged it #K8538 and placed it in the British Museum to rest among the host of famous Assyrian artifacts such as the huge winged lions that guarded the gates of Nineveh. Parts of the tablet were translated but many aspects were not understood. Positions of stars and constellations were easy to understand, like the position of Orion, Scorpio, Polaris, and even the Milky Way. Other references like “The white bowl approaching. Vigorously swept along.” were far more ambiguous and created more questions than answers. The object sat inconspicuously, without further attention until 2008 when Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell* completely deciphered the tablet and used astronomical software to trace the positions of the objects it depicted back through time and correlated them with the exact date of June 29, 3123 BC.

Bond and Hemspell found the tablet precisely plotted the position of an object, moving across the sky and the trajectory and date of the object coincided with an asteroid collision into the Alps near Kofels, Switzerland.

The low trajectory of the asteroid caused it to vaporize in the atmosphere, just prior to impact so no crater resulted, but millions of tons of debris flowed down the mountain in a gigantic landslide. Hempspell claims that a mushroom-like plume would have risen hundreds of miles into the air and drifted backwards over the Egypt, Asia Minor and the Sinai Peninsula causing mass destruction, raining down fiery rocks, and spontaneously igniting flammable materials on the ground where temperatures exceeded 700 degrees F. This is the type of catastrophe that could result in the complete destruction of several cities, hence the inference to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Whether this event was responsible for the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah is questionable. Still, myths abound about fiery destruction. Bond and Hempspell have identified twenty. Sodom and Gomorrah is only one story. Another is the Greek myth of Phaeton. Phaeton was the son of Helios, the sun god and when allowed to drive his father’s sunny chariot across the sky, but he could not control it. Flying too close to the earth, he scorched the earth and Zeus struck him down with a lightning bolt before he destroyed all of humankind.

To me whether or not the asteroid plotted on the tablet caused the end of Sodom and Gomorrah is not important. The thrill is that the tablet accurately records the path of an asteroid, flying across the heavens over 5,000 years ago, when the written word was first starting to emerge, when bronze was first hammered, and when the first walled cities were being built. The ancients not only recorded the event, but passed the knowledge down from generation to generation, across kingdoms, cultures, and empires, and now it is part of the modern historical record, a postcard postmarked June 29, 3123 BC.

1.Sumerian Observation of the Kofels Event, Bond and Hempspell, 2008


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