Washington Post: Did comet end an ancient North American culture?
UC researchers find evidence for cosmic cataclysm over Ohio more than 1,500 years ago
The Washington Post highlighted a University of Cincinnati archaeology discovery of evidence that a near-Earth comet devastated Native American settlements in the Midwest more than 1,500 years ago.
UC College of Arts and Sciences anthropology professor Kenneth Tankersley led a team of biologists, anthropologists and geologists who took sediment samples at 11 known ancient Hopewell sites in the Ohio River Valley stretching across three states.
UC researchers collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Georgia's Center for Applied Isotope Studies. The study was published this week in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
How many Hopewell people, if any, died in the blast is impossible to tell, Tankersley told the Washington Post.
“Without a time machine, we can’t say for certain,” he said. “But everywhere we excavated … we found burned earth, fire hardened.”
UC researchers found evidence of limestone being reduced to lime by the intense heat from the comet's fires, the Post said.
Besides physical evidence, researchers said the ancient Hopewell documented the disaster in their masterworks and oral histories. A comet-shaped mound was constructed near the epicenter of the airburst at a Hopewell site called the Milford Earthworks.
Various Algonquin and Iroquoian tribes, descendants of the Hopewell, spoke of a calamity that befell the Earth, said Tankersley, who is Native American.
“This is a great example of Native Americans documenting their own history,” Tankersley told the Post. “The Hopewell record of the disaster that may have ended its culture.”
Featured image at top: Portions of a land survey created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1823 that documented an ancient Hopewell site today known as the Milford Earthworks. The surveyor found Hopewell mounds standing five to 10 feet tall, including one in the shape of a comet. The site had previously been surveyed in 1803. Photo/National Archives
UC's discovery in the news
Smithsonian Magazine: Scientists find 'chemical fingerprint' of comet that may have ignited the decline of Hopewell culture
MSN: Earth may have narrowly avoided a comet impact 1,600 years ago
TechRadar: Earth may have narrowly avoided the impact of a doomsday comet
Popular Mechanics: Earth narrowly avoided a comet strike 1,600 years ago
SciNews: Near-Earth comet exploded over North America 1,600 years ago
Heritage Daily: Cosmic cataclysm might have caused downfall of Hopewell culture
Chicago Tribune: Evidence of cosmic airburst over North America 1,600 years ago
The Independent (UK): Comet airburst 1,500 years ago had devastating effects on Native American culture, study finds
The Jerusalem Post (Israel): Comet explosion may have ended Native American culture
24 (Hungary): Exploding comet may have caused the downfall of an ancient culture
Dziennik Naukowy (Poland): Mystery of the downfall of the Hopewell people
Nguoi Lao Dong (Vietnam): The sky exploded on 'cursed' land in America
Vosveteit (Slovakia): The day the sun fell from the sky
UC chosen to host prestigious mathematics conference
March 28, 2023
The University of Cincinnati’s College of Arts and Sciences will host the prestigious 2023 Spring Central Sectional Meeting of the American Mathematical Society on April 15 and 16.
PsyCom Pro: ADHD treatments may also help executive function...
March 28, 2023
The University of Cincinnati's Jeffrey Strawn was featured in a PsyCom Pro article highlighting new research that found ADHD treatments may also help executive function deficits.
NPR: What would happen if student loans were forgiven?
March 27, 2023
NPR's Marketplace wanted to know what would happen if some or all student loans were forgiven and turned to experts, including University of Cincinnati economist Michael Jones.