Thursday, April 10, 2008

The wages of sin

A Sumerian clay tablet describing an asteroid impact, inferred by constellation positions to June 29, 3123 BC, has been deciphered and somehow connected to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which I had always thought was something from about a millennium later. I'm not sure how this connection was made, but you can read the London Times article here. The tablet was discovered in the 19th century in the ruins of the royal Assyrian library at Nineveh, itself dating from much later, to around 700 BC.

Amusingly, the clay tablet itself is misidentified in the headline as the asteroid: "Clay tablet identified as asteroid that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah"! :) But the story's first paragraph sets it straight:
A clay tablet that has baffled scientists for 150 years has been identified as a witness’s account of the asteroid suspected of being behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In good newspaper style, the unnamed asteroid is identified only as "suspected." The asteroid has actually been held for questioning and could not be reached for comment.

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