Wednesday, April 9, 2008

News from the Fish Bowl: Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed by Asteroid!

Sorry if this headline is a little out of date.

Hi, it's Lucky again. I found a headline today that made me laugh so hard I would have snorted my water out my nose if I had a nose and didn't have gills. It comes from the Times Online and is completely garbled:

CLAY TABLET IDENTIFIED AS ASTEROID THAT DESTROYED SODOM AND GOMORRAH

That is one killer clay tablet. I think they meant to say that the tablet describes the asteroid that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, but if you read the article, you'll see that's mere sensationalism.

The tablet, found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal place at Nineveh in the mid-19th century, is thought to be a 700BC copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky.

He referred to the asteroid as “white stone bowl approaching” and recorded it as it “vigorously swept along”.

Using computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago, scientists have pinpointed his sighting to shortly before dawn on June 29 in the year 3123BC [more...]

The ancient tablet reports that, after the Bronze Age astronomer spotted the asteroid, Bronze Age drillers were sent up in a Bronze Age spaceship to destroy it, accompanied by the music of a Bronze Age Aerosmith. Alas, it was to no avail: the asteroid probably struck in the Austrian Alps.

So what does this have to do with Sodom and Gomorrah? Absolutely nothing, but it does demonstrate the truth of the proverb, "Translate an ancient tablet and you'll get into the journals, but make a tenuous, insupportable biblical connection and you'll get into the newspapers."
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