Every night the same story. Sit outside, on top of a tower, and accurately record the position of the stars, the planets and the clouds. This was the task of an unknown Sumerian astronomer who lived more than 5 thousand years ago. But that night, or rather that morning, would not be like all the others. In fact they were about to break the dawn of 29 June 3123 BC, when in the sky suddenly appeared a strange object which he described as a “big white stone bowl which vigorously flew over the sky”.
The attentive observer would have then gone missing, but his records were scrupulously copied over the centuries until, in 700 a. C., when they were engraved in a clay tablet. The tablet was then preserved in the Library of Assurbanipal (or Sardanapalus, king of Assyria) of Nineveh (near modern Mosul in Iraq). And right here, in the ruins of this city, in the second half of 1800 A.D., he found the English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard. Unable to decipher the cuneiform characters, Layard delivered the tablet in London where he remains today, exhibited at the British Museum under the name of Planisfera K8538. Observed every day by thousands of curious eyes, its contents remained secret for 150 years.
Namely until 2008, when Alan Bond, director of an aerospace company, Reaction Engines, and Mark Hempsell of Bristol University, managed to decipher the tablet and it unveiled the content in the book “A remark on the impact of Sumerian Köfels”.
According to the book, the big white bowl in another sky was not that a huge meteorite that soon would have crashed into a mountain in the Austrian Alps leaving a long trail of destruction in its race. The explosion would have caused, the authors explain, a landslide in the rocks of five kilometers wide and five meters thick traces of which were found years ago near Köfels, a town in the region. The origin of these tracks has long been (and still is) the subject of study and discussion among scientists, uncertain between a cosmic impact is a natural geological phenomenon.
The findings of Bond and Hempsell added arguments to the controversy, and have questioned the dating until most accepted then, the one that traced the landslide 8000 BC about. To formulate their hypothesis, the two scientists inserted the data obtained by deciphering the tablet on a computer can reconstruct the sky 5000 years ago and to simulate the trajectory of the meteorite. According to Bond and Hempsell also in the clash with the mountain the meteorite would have generated an output of 1,000 tons of TNT, producing the Austrian landslide and a shower of incandescent fragments temperature of over 400 ° C that are dispersed in an area around one million square kilometers.
An event that will not go unnoticed, as claimed by the two Englishmen, according to which it is likely that more than Sumerian astronomer there have been many other spectators, and that at least a score of ancient myths have originated that night. The most famous? The greek myth of Phaeton, son of the god Apollo, precipitated with the chariot of the Sun in the river Eridanus (ancient name of the Po) and the biblical destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And actually the words of ‘Old Testament recall a rain of ash and incandescent fragments:
“Then the LORD rained from heaven upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD; 25 And he overthrew those cities and all the plain and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground “(Genesis, 19).