The Cosmic Airburst May Have Destroyed the Middle East 3,700 Years Ago



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About 3,700 years ago, a meteor or comet exploded in the Middle East, wiping out human life on a plot of land called Middle Ghor, north of the Dead Sea, said archaeologists who had found evidence of a cosmic air explosion.

Airburst "in an instant, destroyed about 500 km2 [about 200 square miles] immediately north of the Dead Sea, not only destroy 100 percent [cities] and cities, but also peel agricultural land from very fertile land and cover the Middle East Ghor with very hot salt sea water dead sea anhydrides that propel the landscape by frontal shock waves, "the researchers wrote in the abstract for papers presented at the meeting annual American Schools of Oriental Research held in Denver November 14-17 Anhydride salts are a mixture of salt and sulfate.

"Based on archaeological evidence, it takes at least 600 years to recover enough from land damage and contamination before civilization can again be established in the Middle East Ghor," they wrote. Among the destroyed places is Tall el-Hammam, an ancient city that covers 89 hectares (36 hectares) of land. [Wipe Out: History’s Most Mysterious Extinctions]

Among the evidence that scientists found for air blasts is 3,700-year-old pottery pieces from Tall el-Hammam that have an unusual appearance. The surface of the pottery has been raised (turned into glass). The temperature is also very high so the pieces of zircon in the pot turn into gas – something that requires a temperature of more than 7,230 degrees Fahrenheit (4,000 degrees Celsius), said Phillip Silvia, a field archeologist and supervisor with the Tall el-Hammam excavation. Project. However, heat, though strong, does not last long enough to burn all the pieces of pottery, leaving a relatively unscathed subsurface portion of the pottery.

The only naturally occurring event capable of causing such unusual patterns of destruction, said Silvia, was a cosmic air explosion – something that sometimes happened throughout Earth's history, like the 1908 explosion at Tunguska in Siberia.

Also, archaeological excavations and surveys in other cities in the affected areas showed a sudden loss of life around 3,700 years ago, Silvia said. So far, no craters have been found nearby, and it is not clear whether the culprit was a meteor or comet that exploded above the ground.

The fact that only 200 square miles of land were destroyed indicates that an air blast occurred at low altitude, perhaps not more than 3,280 feet (1 km) above the ground, Silvia said. In comparison, the airborne Tunguska was damaged by 830 square miles, or 2,150 square kilometers of land.

The team's results are preliminary and research is underway, Silvia stressed. The team of scientists consisted of members from Trinity Southwest University, Northern Arizona University, DePaul University, Elizabeth City State University, New Mexico Tech, and Comet Research Group.

Originally published in Live Science.

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