Ancient stone carvings in Turkey suggest that a comet struck Earth in 11,000 B.C. supporting the theory that the mini ice age that saw the rise of civilizations and demise of the woolly mammoths has been triggered by a space rock that hit our planet 13,000 years ago.
Ancient Symbols At Gobekli Tepe Temple
Researchers analyzed the mysterious symbols that were carved into the pillar known as the Vulture Stone at the Gobekli Tepe temple in Turkey. The temple is believed to be the oldest known temple in the world having been built earlier than the Stonehenge by around 6,000 years.
Researchers found that these symbols tell the story of comet fragments that hit Earth more than 13,000 years ago. Experts now think that the site at Gobekli Tepe may have been an ancient observatory.
Using computer software to match the carvings of animals that were interpreted as astronomical symbols to find out where the constellations would have appeared above Turkey thousands of years ago, researchers were able to date the comet strike at around 11,000 B.C., which is when the Younger Dryas event started based on ice core data from Greenland.
The Younger Dryas is the mini ice age considered as a crucial period in the history of humanity because it was around this period, which lasted around 1,000 years, that the first Neolithic civilization and agriculture emerged, possibly as a response to the colder climates. The period is also associated with the extinction of the woolly mammoth.
"By matching low-relief carvings on some of the pillars at Göbekli Tepe to star asterisms we find compelling evidence that the famous 'Vulture Stone' is a date stamp for 10950 BC ± 250 yrs, which corresponds closely to the proposed Younger Dryas event, estimated at 10890 BC," researchers wrote in their study, which was published in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.
It is not clear what triggered the mini ice age but one of the leading hypotheses is a comet strike, scientists, however, were not able to find evidence of any comet striking Earth around that time until now after researchers analyzed the ancient carvings in Turkey. The researchers said that the carvings offer evidence that a comet impact may have set off the Younger Dryas.
The researchers noted the importance of the carving to the people of Gobekli Tepe for millennia, which suggests that the event and the cold climate it likely triggered had a serious impact. One of the images depict a headless man, which is believed to be a symbol of human disaster and massive loss of life.
"One of its pillars seems to have served as a memorial to this devastating event - probably the worst day in history since the end of the ice age," said study researcher Martin Sweatman, from the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering.
The carvings also support the theory that Earth went through a period when comet strikes were more likely to occur because of its orbit intersecting with rings of cometary fragments.