A comet may have struck the Earth in approximately 10,950 B.C., according to a new study published Monday by archaeologists from the University of Edinburgh.
The study found evidence of the comet engraved on a pillar in the world’s oldest temple at Gȍbekli Tepe in Southern Turkey. The engraving indicates the comet killed thousands, wiping out many large animal species, and triggering a miniature ice age lasting 1,000 years.
The archaeologists think some images on the stone pillars were intended to be a record of the cataclysmic strike. Symbolism on the pillars indicates that the Gȍbekli Tepe sight was used as an observatory for meteors and comets.
“It appears Göbekli Tepe was, among other things, an observatory for monitoring the night sky,” Dr. Martin Sweatman, who led the University of Edinburgh’s research team, said in a press statement. “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.”
Researchers were able to use software to match their animal carving on pillars to positions to patterns of stars in the sky, allowing them to date the event to 10,950 B.C. This closely matches a timeline from other dating methods from an ice core in Greenland.
Other evidence suggests the cooling period following the comet strike may have caused groups of people to band together to cultivate crops, leading to the development of agriculture.
The discovery supports a theory that Earth is regularly struck by comets during certain time periods when the planet’s orbit intersects rings of comet fragments in space.
The University of Edinburgh did not return requests for comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication.
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