A smattering of unusual elements discovered across the Ohio River Valley could suggest that a cosmic calamity aided in the demise of a Native American society 1,500 years ago. The Hopewell culture, an ancient Native American civilisation that thrived in villages along rivers in the northeastern and midwestern Eastern Woodlands roughly 2,000 years ago, left evidence of a cosmic airburst at 11 sites, according to researchers from the University of Cincinnati.
The researchers describe the discovery of rare metals such as iridium and platinum, as well as rocky meteorite fragments known as pallasites, at 11 separate sites originally inhabited by people of the Hopewell civilization in their new study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports. A charcoal layer was also discovered at the sites, indicating that the area had been subjected to a quick burst of intense heat. “These micrometeorites have a distinct chemical signature. Asteroids and comet airbursts, for example, leave behind large amounts of platinum, a rare material “According to Tankersley.
“The issue is that platinum is also found in volcanic outbursts.” As a result, we’re also looking for iridium, a rare element seen in nonterrestrial events like meteorite impact craters. And we discovered a surge in both iridium and platinum,” said Kenneth Tankersley, the study’s lead author and an anthropology professor at the University of Cincinnati.
The researchers conclude that this is significant evidence that the area was struck by an airburst. Airbursts are explosive explosions caused by a big meteor or comet brushing Earth’s atmosphere and then bouncing back into space. According to the current research, between the years 252 and 383 CE, an airburst likely triggered fires throughout a 23,800-kilometer (9,200-square-mile) expanse of woodland. This was a period when Chinese astronomers discovered over 60 near-Earth comets, neatly putting this scenario together. Perhaps not coincidentally, this devastating disaster also appears to have coincided with the Hopewell culture’s abrupt fall.
The majority of individuals in this ancient civilisation are likely to have survived the original tragedy, but the ensuing flames would have wreaked havoc on the terrain, causing agriculture to fail. Moreover, numerous tribes derived from the Hopewell tribe, such as the Algonquin and Iroquoian, have stories and legends about a bizarre calamity that struck the Earth from the skies.
Tankersley explains, “What’s fascinating is that many different tribes have identical stories about the incident.” “A horned serpent swooped over the sky, dropping boulders on the land before plunging into the river, according to Miami legend.” When a comet passes through the atmosphere, it seems to be a giant snake. The Shawnee spoke of a’sky panther’ who had the ability to destroy forests. The people of Ottawa talk about a day when the sun disappeared from the sky. And a comet would have burst like a nuclear bomb if it had collided with the thermosphere,” Tankersley concluded.