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Asteroid impact events in history/mythology

  1. Aug 30, 2008 #1
    Given the frequency of relatively minor asteroidal impacts, similar to the Tunguska event, it seems to me that ancient literature would be rife with stories of them, probably interpreted as acts of the gods or God. For example, in the Bible is the story (2Samuel 24 and 1Chronicles 21) of David taking a census of the people, which angered God so much that he sent a pestilence that killed numerous Israelites: 1Chronicles 21:16 "And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem." I don't know why pestilence would be associated with an impact, though. Having seen an artist's rendering of what the Tunguska event may have looked like, I can well imagine David having seen something similar. The sword the angel held could've been the trail left by an infalling bit of space depris, and the body of the angel could've been the explosion itself.

    Whether or not that specific case is an example of an impact in ancient literature (it may well not be), has anyone done a study of ancient mythology with the purpose of uncovering those kinds of events? Only a fairly small number would have occurred in regions we've got records of, but there should be many records of such awesome events.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2008 #2
    I would think that volcanic activity would be more common. the exodus is said to have occurred at the time of the santorini eruption.

    rev 8:8 does sound like an impact though.
  4. Aug 30, 2008 #3


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    Actually a good place to start threads about the historicity of events described in the O.T. of the Bible might be the Sociology forum (part of Other Science). It has a Humanities subforum. You can often find interesting discussions there.

    In Astro forum it doesnt work so well because we don't know that any of those Exodus events occurred, so it doesnt make sense to try to correlate them with astronomical events.

    Just my two cents---I don't have anything to do with it, but I think you might get more mileage with your questions if you posted in Sociology or it's Humanities subforum.

    Granpa, it sounds like you are assuming that an event corresponding to Exodus actually occurred. Do you think of Exodus as historical? I don't know of any Egyptian documents that corroborate the scriptural account, or of any archeological evidence that the Kings David and Solomon existed. Do you?

    In the absence of evidence, I'm inclined to think that the Exodus stories were made up during the Babylonian Captivity as a way of forging a national consciousness among a group of those who were forced to relocate. The Babylonian Captivity is certainly real. It was Babylonian policy to undermine ethnic and political identities by uprooting minorities and moving them around. I think the leaders of those displaced reacted intelligently and creatively in this case by fabricating an epic past with a made-up Moses character, a great escape from slavery, hero kings, and a whole lot of human interest stories involving fascinating men and women characters and dramatic situations.

    I don't know of any contemporary records the refer to any of these events occurring at whatever time they were supposed to occur. If you do---if you know of any evidence that events before the Babylonian Captivity were real---any references to someone named Moses etc. Especially if the sources are accessible online, I would love to know of them.

    I've always thought of the early Old Testament stories as great literature, so it would be exciting for me to learn of credible evidence that the main events actually happened and were not purely made up.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  5. Sep 29, 2008 #4
    While it does not constitute any evidence of any event, nevertheless, the myth of
    Phaethon joy riding the sun is interesting.

    There you go, eye witnesses of the ice age and the interglacials? Supernova? :uhh:
  6. Sep 29, 2008 #5

    Incidentily, the mischievous conduct of Phaethon has been explained by Plato in the Timaeus dialogues with Socrates:

  7. Oct 28, 2008 #6


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    I heard somewhere that it was Plato who also coined the term "the pairing knife of the gods" referring to asteroid impacts or other anomalies disrupting life on earth. In fact this may have been in reference to his fabled account of Atlantis and its swift fall from grace.
  8. Oct 28, 2008 #7


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    That's interesting about the Babylonian Captivity. I do have some reference to a Moses that may interest you.

    http://members.aol.com/ankhemmaat/jocaste.htm [Broken]

    Here's another account of where the name may have come from...


    As for historical accounts of "The Exodus"... who do you believe? Until
    we find a bunch of chariots and Yuel Brenner's skeleton at the bottom
    of the Red Sea, we don't know squat.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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