A "submerged" Syrian village provides evidence of the amazing impact of a comet's explosion 13,000 years ago on Earth

A "submerged" Syrian village provides evidence of the amazing impact of a comet's explosion 13,000 years ago on Earth

A scientific team has suggested that the site of "Tel Abu Hurairah" in what is now northern Syria is the first example of the indirect catastrophic impact of a large comet that struck the Earth about 12,800 years ago.
After the comet fragments collided with the Earth's atmosphere, the climate changed dramatically, and led to a radical shift in lifestyle from hunting to agriculture and even control of wild animals, according to a new analysis of the remains excavated from the area in the 1970s.

“Based on current analyses, this would be the first example of a human settlement catastrophically affected by a cosmic impact event,” the researchers wrote in the new study.

The team's new interpretation of material excavated from the prehistoric village of Abu Hurairah, now submerged under the Lake Assad reservoir in northern Syria, suggests a dramatic change in the local climate around the time of the impact of the 100-kilometre-wide (62-mile) fragments. From a disintegrating icy body called a centaur on Earth.

These objects have a dual nature in that they resemble asteroids but leave a trail of gas and dust in their wake like comets.

In what is known as an airburst, it is believed that one of the pieces of the comet, filled with enormous heat, exploded high in the planet’s atmosphere and rained down intense shock waves over the village, thus eliminating its inhabitants.

Scientists also suspect that this event, called the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, covered the region in dust, blocking sunlight and causing a cold winter.

Before the comet struck, records show that settlers consumed mostly wild fruits, berries, and legumes, while post-event remains show that their diet shifted to grains and lentils, as a result of early experiments in agriculture.

The region has also seen a significant rise in drought-resistant crops, reflecting the change from a cool to a drier climate, according to the new study.

"Villagers began growing barley, wheat and legumes. This is what the evidence clearly shows," James Kennett, a professor emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara and co-author of the new study, added in a statement.

These results are consistent with the 2007 hypothesis that our planet witnessed many airbursts of transcontinental comets. Scientists say that parts of the giant comet that exploded over the Syrian village also rained down rain on more than 50 known locations across at least five continents.

The team says that because the comet's 'impact' was indirect and was actually an explosion in the air, there are no craters in the ground."

This research was described in a paper published in the journal Airbursts and Cratering Impacts.
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