Fragmented comet likely hit as civilization was born on Earth

Space Science
grinding stone Abu Hureyra

A grinding wheel found at Abu Hureyra. (Zunkir / CC BY-SA / Wikimedia Commons)

MYSTERY WIRE — Archaeologists have determined that an area often referred to as the cradle of civilization was also the site of a cosmic event — massive destruction caused by a fragment of a comet impacting the Earth’s surface.

Ancient Mesopotamia and the Tigris-Euphrates Valley are known as one of the areas where agriculture began about 12,800 years ago, changing the course of our nomadic ancestors and sowing the seeds of civilization.

Evidence known as meltglass found at the Abu Hureyra archaeological site indicate a catastrophe in the middle of all of this.

READ: Researchers find evidence of a cosmic impact that caused destruction of one of the world’s earliest human settlements

Abu Hureyra

The substance is created in extremely high temperatures, greater than fire, lightning or volcanic activity.

James Kennett, an emeritus professor of geology at University of California, Santa Barbara, tells phys.org that such intense head could only have resulted from an extremely violent, high-energy, high-velocity phenomenon. Something like a cosmic impact.

To help with perspective, such high temperatures would completely melt an automobile in less than a minute.

James Kennett , UC Santa Barbara emeritus professor of geology
Woolly Mammoth skeleton.

The Abu Hureyra site is gone, submerged beneath a reservoir created in 1972. But similar sites — as many as 30 of them — survive around the world, telling of the destructive force brought by the comet fragments. What those other sites can’t tell us, though, is how they might have affected humans at the birth of civilization.

What they do tell us is that the fragments likely ended the Pleistocene epoch and led to climate change that brought the extinction of Woolly Mammoths, American horses and American camels.

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