Sunday, September 4, 2011

The fall of Phaethon: a Greco-Roman geomyth preserves the memory of a meteorite impact in Bavaria (south-east Germany).

The fall of Phaethon: a Greco-Roman geomyth preserves the memory of a meteorite impact in Bavaria (south-east Germany). [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Introduction The term 'geomythology', coined by Dorothy Vitaliano(1968: 5), 'indicates every case in which the origin of myths andlegends can be shown to contain references to geological phenomena andaspects, in a broad sense including astronomical ones (comets, eclipses,meteor impacts etc.)' (Piccardi & Masse 2007: vii). Vitalianodifferentiates between two kinds of geological folklore: '... thatin which some geologic feature ... has inspired a folklore explanation,and that which is the garbled explanation of some actual geologic event,usually a natural catastrophe' (Piccardi & Masse 2007: vii).Within the last few years a number of studies have tried to demonstratethat some mythical or legendary traditions are geomyths of the secondkind, depicting concrete, geological verifiable natural catastrophes informer times (e.g. Piccardi & Masse 2007). For a long time the myth of Phaethon (see e.g. Ov. Met.I.750-II.408; detailed overview on the Classical texts dealing withPhaethon: Knaack 1965) has fuelled suspicions concerning the possibilitythat it is the reflection of a real natural event in the sense of ageomyth. Its main features are as follows: Phaethon, the son of Helios,borrows the sun-chariot of his father. But he is not able to keep it oncourse along the sun's accustomed path and, disoriented, theburning chariot sets parts of heaven and Earth on fire. To prevent aneven bigger catastrophe, Zeus strikes Phaethon with his thunderbolt andthe youth falls to Earth into the river Eridanos. Von Engelhardt (1979), among others, advanced the hypothesis thatthe myth of Phaethon is the reflection of a meteorite impact event(Rappengluck & Rappengluck 2007: 102-3). He suggested that the mythwas related to the fall of a large meteorite in the Po Delta (Italy),but failed to provide geological evidence for impact in the relevantregion. By contrast, Blomqvist (1994) suggested a connection between themyth of Phaethon and actually existing meteorite craters, in particularthe Kaalijarv craters in Estonia. There is considerable controversyconcerning the dating of these nine craters, the biggest of which has adiameter of 110m, for which the dates range between 6400 and 400 BC (seeMasse 2007: 29). But, when Blomqvist published his theory, these werethe only known craters that might fit approximately to the place andtime in question (Northern or Western Europe, c. 2000-428 BC, see below:Time and place). This article presents further arguments for interpreting the mythof Phaethon as a geomyth. This will be done by comparing in detail thedescriptions in the texts of the myth with an example of ascientifically analysed meteorite impact. Our candidate is the site ofChiemgau in south-east Germany, one of the biggest known Holocenemeteorite impacts, where an extraordinary variety of phenomena can bestudied by bringing geology, mineralogy, geophysics, archaeology andastronomy to bear (Ernstson et al. 2010). The Chiemgau impact The Chiemgau field (Ernstson et al. 2010) in the Alpine foothillscomprises more than 80 mostly rimmed craters spread over a roughlyelliptical area c. 60 x 30km (c. 1800[km.sup.2] between 47.8[degrees]and 48.4[degrees]N, and 12.3[degrees] and 13.0[degrees]E, at anelevation of 360m to 560m asl). The crater diameters range from a fewmetres to a few hundred metres (Figure 1). The biggest crater, that ofTuttensee (Figure 2), which is filled by a lake, has a rim wall 8m high,a rim-to-rim diameter of about 600m, a depth of roughly 30m and anextensive ejecta blanket. Geologically, the Chiemgau craters occur inPleistocene moraine and fluvio-glacial sediments. The impact eventitself is chiefly documented by the abundant occurrence of shockmetamorphism (e.g. planar deformation features [PDFs]) in quartz, whichis generally accepted as evidence of a meteorite impact (Stoffler &Langenhorst 1994: 165) (Figure 3). Further indication of a meteoriteimpact is given by the occurrence of impact melt rocks, various rockglasses (Figure 4), heavy deformations of the Quaternary cobbles andboulders, accretionary lapilli, the ejecta blanket around the Tuttenseecrater, and strange matter in the form of iron silicides such asgupeiite and xifengite, and various carbides, e.g. moissanite SiC. Thereare carbonaceous spherules containing fullerene-like structures andnanodiamonds that point to an impact-related origin (Yang et al. 2008).Examples of the spherules (Figure 5) were found embedded in the fusioncrust of cobbles from a crater as well as in soils found widespreadacross Europe (Rosler et al. 2006: 68, 70; Yang et al. 2008: 937),suggesting major fallout. Furthermore, a remarkable variety of secondaryeffects can be observed, e.g. abundant strong corrosion of rocks down toskeletal formation (Figure 6) is not only attributed tomelting/decarbonisation but probably also to dissolution by nitric acidprecipitation from the impact explosion cloud. [FIGURE 1 OMITTED] A gravity survey of the Tuttensee crater and its environs revealedan anomaly of positive gravity, that can be explained by soilliquefaction and densification generated by the high-energy shockpressure of the impact. The impact seems to have also affected the mostprominent lake of the region, the glacially formed Lake Chiemsee, oftencalled the Bavarian Sea, with a surface area of about 80[km.sup.2] and adepth in parts of more than 70m. Cobbles and sand embedded in peat bogsclose to Lake Chiemsee, and flood sediments at several sites near theshore of the lake, point to tsunami waves several metres high, caused byone or several impacts into Lake Chiemsee. Recent sonar soundings inLake Chiemsee revealed the structure of a double-crater. From preliminary calculations, we have deduced the meteorite itselfto have been a very low-density object (< 1.3g/[cm.sup.3]) of a sizeroughly 1100m across that entered the atmosphere at a velocity of about12km/s on a low-oblique trajectory. The first fragmentation, whichoccurred at an altitude of 70km, provides an explanation for thewidespread fallout mentioned above. The modelled scenario applies for ameteorite that was intact on entering the denser layers of theatmosphere. These considerations and calculations are preliminary innature due to the present limited knowledge of the impact field pattern. [FIGURE 2 OMITTED] Parallels between the myth of Phaethon and impact phenomena In a previous article, Rappengluck and Rappengluck (2007: 103-4)proposed arguments for interpreting the story of Phaethon as thereflection of an actual natural phenomenon. The authors showed that thedescriptions of Phaethon's course along the sky and the details ofhis fall, as a staggering fall head first, or the combination ofPhaethon's reddish-burning hair with his pitch-dark veil, perfectlydepict the approach of a celestial object and the phenomena which occurduring its passage through the atmosphere. In the more detailed analysisthat follows we will compare passages from the myth of Phaethon(italics), with evidence found in the Chiemgau crater field andobservations from very recent impact events. For details on the Chiemgaucrater field in general see also Ernstson et al. (2010) in addition tocited references. Phaethon starts with the sun chariot in the morning (Ov. Met.II.111-160; Nonn. Dion. 38.307-9): it seems that Classical authors thusdescribed a celestial object that came from the direction of the risingsun, initially being outshone by it, then growing rapidly bigger andincreasing quickly in luminosity. Such an observation has been reportedby eyewitnesses of the Tunguska event in 1908 which gave the impressionof a 'second sun' (Gallant 2002: 1), set free by the firsttrue sun. Graeco-Roman writers put this into a metaphor: Phaethon hadlost the control of the sun's chariot and fallen out of thevehicle. [FIGURE 3 OMITTED] Phaethon is struck by the lightning blast of Zeus' thunderbolt(Plat. Tim. 22C; Ov. Met. II.311-13, II.325; Apoll. Rhod. 4.5978; Plin.Nat. 37.XI.31; Lucr. V.399-401; Nonn. Dion. 38.410; and others) and thesun chariot becomes fragmented (Manil. 1.746; Val. Fl. V.431; Ov. Met.II.316-18). This description reflects very well the explosion andcascading fragmentation of a large meteoroid in the atmosphere. Exactlysuch an event explains the Chiemgau impact crater-strewn field with itsremarkable number of craters and the large ellipse of theirdistribution. Other authors (Lucr. V.404; Diod. V.23.3; Nonn. Dion. 38.412-15)observed that the chariot of the Sun continued its course. This is easyto understand: the explosion and fragmentation of the meteoroid wouldhave happened close to the sun. Hence, the impression would have beenthat the chariot of the Sun itself had been disrupted. But after thehuge airburst dissipated, an airburst accompanied and followed bycertain atmospheric phenomena, the sun was seen moving along its usualorbit. Thus the celestial vehicle somehow must have remained intact. [FIGURE 4 OMITTED] Phaethon is half-burnt (Apoll. Rhod. 4.598; Norm. Dion. 38.93); heis a black globe (Val. Fl. V.431); he is enwrapped by fiery ash andpitch-black darkness that prevents him from seeing (Ov. Met. II.2314);he breathes hot air, as from an oven (Ov. Met. II.229-30); he smolders(Ov. Met. II.324-6.); the world is covered by Phaethon's ash (Or.Met. II.286; Star. Theb. 1.221); wildfires burn up the country (Plat.Tim. 22C; Diod. V.23.2; Ov. Met. II.210-28; Norm. Dion. 38.418-20): onits supersonic passage through the atmosphere, a meteoroid is subjectedto a process of ablation that may result in a big dark dust trail(Norton 2002: 35), an impression well documented in P.I. Medvedev'spainting of the Sikhote Alin fireball 1947 (Norton 2002: 39). Uponimpact, extreme temperatures from shock release must spontaneously haveignited the ground vegetation and resulted in charred forests and ashlayers. Hence, both the giant dark dust trail of the object and thespontaneous heating and igniting of the ground would have made theirmark on the target, exactly what is observed in the Chiemgau impactarea. Carbonaceous material has been found abundantly, in some casesshowing peculiar character. The most common occurrence is charcoal moreor less regularly intermixed e.g. in the Tuttensee ejecta blanket. Forthe already mentioned carbonaceous spherules (Figure 5) animpact-related origin has been debated (Yang et al. 2008: 943). Both thepossibility of their formation in the impact process and their beingconstituents of the meteorite must be considered. Carbon spherules withsimilar characteristics have been found also in soils widespread overEurope (Rosler et al. 2006: 70; Yang et al. 2008: 937), thus pointing toan extended fallout phenomenon. [FIGURE 5 OMITTED] Moreover, at the Chiemgau impact site a crater was examined inwhich rocks throughout the whole of the rim wall (11m in diameter)experienced temperatures close to 2000[degrees]C (Rosler et al. 2006:68). Chemical analyses of the glass which coats many cobbles serve toestablish the presence of considerable enrichment in calcium andpotassium, which is practically absent in the original cobbles.Therefore, an intermixing from burned-up or vaporised vegetation must beconsidered. This is substantiated by the fact that, in the same crater,the transformation from charcoal to glassy carbon can be seen, whereasthe charcoal in question still reveals the structure of wood. Hence,extreme temperatures, abundant carbonaceous matter and widespreadfallout phenomena are basic elements of the Chiemgau impact, and showthat the descriptions of Phaethon's veil of ash, the world beingcovered by ash, and other heat-, fire- and ash-related phenomena fitwith the properties of an impact event. [FIGURE 6 OMITTED] Eclipse-like darkness for one day (Ov. Met. II.329-31, 381-5): theaforementioned carbonaceous spherules and other fine particles, whichfilled the atmosphere after the impact, would have filtered the sunlightfor an unknown period of time. Poisonous vapours exhaling from the lake Phaethon had fallen inaffected the health of animals and human beings (Apoll. Rhod.4.597-600); birds drop from the sky (Apoll. Rhod. 4.601-603; Aristot.Mir. 81): as mentioned above, cobbles from the Chiemgau impactcrater-strewn field show extreme corrosion (Figure 6), which we explainby the action of strong acid dissolution, among other causes. Also, thehealth consequences on humans affected by 'sulphurous' vapourshave been reported from the small meteorite impact near Carancas, Peru,in 2007 (Macedo & Machare 2007: 2, 4-5). Such phenomena may bereflected in the narrative's reference to poisonous vapours. The goddess of the earth, Tellus, rose her face ... and sunk with abig quake, shaking all, and now sat somewhat deeper than before (Ov.Met. II.275-8): a gravity survey of the Tuttensee crater and itsenvirons suggests a liquefaction and densification of the highly poroustarget rocks, which was caused by the high shock pressure of the impact.Soil liquefaction and ground subsidence are well known in the context ofstrong earthquakes (Seed & Idriss 1982). The description of Tellussitting down with a big tremor and being seated lower than before seemsto provide a perfect description of such a process. Three times Neptune rose his head and arms from the water, butthree times he could not stand the fiery air (Ov. Met. II.270-71); floodjust after Phaethon's fall (Hyginus, Fabulae CLII.A2): severallocations at the shore of Lake Chiemsee show indications of a tsunamievent. Since other natural causes for a big wave (landslide, subaqueousmass movement, volcanic activity etc.) can be excluded, the onlyplausible conclusion is that it was caused by a meteorite impact intothe lake. Sonar measurements of the bottom of Lake Chiemsee haverevealed the structure of a double crater, substantiating the evidence.Nearby, at the archaeological excavation site of Chieming-Stottham,which is situated at the eastern shore of Lake Chiemsee, theimpact-related layer exhibits not only impact characteristics but alsocomponents pointing to an impact-induced flood wave coming from thelake. Neptune rising from the water and retreating might be a narrativerendition of such a tsunami wave. Water is extremely hot; it steams and boils (Ov. Met. II.242;II.250; II.253): in conjunction with the Tunguska event of 1908, Tungusepeople reported the formation of a lake in which the water continuedboiling for two days (Kokoulin 1908). In the case of the Carancas impactin 2007, the water in the crater was also described as boiling (Macedo& Machare 2007: 2). The mourning sisters of Phaethon, the Heliades, are changed totrees, and their tears become amber (Apoll. Rhod. IV.603-606; Ov. Met.II.346-65; Plin. Nat. 37.XI.31): in the area of the Chiemgau impact,evidence of different effects of the event on trees can be observed.Besides the already mentioned burning and carbonisation of wood,fragments of trees can be found, e.g. in the ejecta layer of theTuttensee crater, fragments which have been extremely twisted. Inregions where trees survived the impact but were heavily damaged, thewood of the trees would have reacted with an intense production ofresin. At Tunguska, not only vast areas were covered by cut trees, butalso '[t]raumatic resin ducts were observed in the transition zonebetween early- and latewood of the annual ring formed in 1908'(Yonenobu & Takenaka 1998: 367). An intensely resinating tree mayvery well be described as 'crying', and its 'tears'may be compared to amber. Time and place Such close parallels with phenomena known from impacts in general,and from the Chiemgau impact in particular, renew the question raised byBlomqvist, whether the myth of Phaethon may preserve some memory of anactual meteorite impact, in this case the Chiemgau impact. Does the mythgive clues to the place and time of the supposed event, and do theymatch those of the Chiemgau impact? Blomqvist (1994: 9) concluded that 2000 BC might provide theterminus post quem for the tradition of Phaethon's disastrous ride.His conclusion is based on the date attributed to the tradition of themotive of the sun chariot and from archaeological evidence of lightchariots drawn by horses in general. The terminus ante quem is given bythe Hippolytos of Euripides, a drama which was performed in 428 BC andfor the first time definitively tells the story of Phaethon performinghis disastrous journey in the sun chariot. Very probably the myth isalready mentioned in the Heliades of Aeschylus, written between 468 and456 BC. An earlier occurrence, e.g. in the works of Hesiod, is morecontroversial (see Knaack 1965; Diggle 1970: 4-5, 10-15, 23-4; Blomqvist1994: 6-7; Csaki 1995: 8-20). Some indications are provided by Classical authors for the eventbeing situated in Northern or Western Europe (Blomqvist 1994: 9-14) forexample, the mention of the river Eridanos and the amber tears of theHeliades. As is well known, geographical descriptions of an oral naturestruggle with many problems, including vagueness and misinterpretation.These difficulties are reflected in the uncertainty of ancient authorsin situating the Eridanos. It was generally identified with rivers inEurope: the Po, the Rhone, the Rhine, or with the 'okeanos' atthe end of the world. Such speculations range from it being situated inthe far north or in the far west of Europe. Even in Hellenistic times,when there was a prevailing agreement that the Eridanos should beidentified with the Po, ambiguities were not eliminated (for referencesto Classical texts see Milchhofer 1965). Hence the Eridanos gives a clueto a Northern or Western European location but not much more. Finally,two authors (Apoll. Rhod. IV.599; Aristot. Mir. 81) state that Phaethonfell into a lake. In view of the Chiemgau impact area and its large LakeChiemsee this information might be seen from a new perspective. An important additional clue is given by some writers whoexplicitly state that the land of the Celts had been the scene ofaction, and/or that the story of Phaethon was told by the Celts (e.g.Paus. I.4.1). Nonnos stressed that '... Phaethon ... was swallowedup in the Celtic river ...' (Nonn. Dion. 38.93), and that the storyof Phaethon was well known by 'the Celts of the west' (Nonn.Dion. 38.97-102). Ioannis Malalae on his part reported (Chronographia,Logos protos 3 in FHG [Fragmenta Historicum Graecorum]; JoannisAntiocheni, Istoria cronike, 2.9-10) that God sent a fireball down fromheaven on the Gigants living in the Celtic country which burnt them andthe country. The ball got stuck in the river Eridanos/Iordanos and wasextinguished. According to Ioannis Malalae the Greeks reflected thisevent in the myth of Phaethon, but he considers Plutarch's reportof a fiery sphere that had hit the Celtic country more credible. In summary, the myth provides us with a number of clues that allowus to conclude that the fall of Phaethon, i.e. the meteorite impact thatappears to be reflected in this myth, took place in Northern or WesternEurope at some time between c. 2000 and 428 BC, while the detaileddescription (see above) suggests that this spectacular event was keptwell in mind, possibly over many centuries up to the creation of thefirst written versions of the myth. Radiometric and archaeological methods were applied to date theChiemgau impact, whence earlier estimations of its dating (Rappengluck& Rappengluck 2007; Rappengluck et al. 2009; Ernstson et al. 2010)had to be modified slightly. OSL dating of the layers at theChieming-Stottham excavation site verified that there was a completeluminescence bleaching, leaving no residuals. It is anticipated thatsunlight erases luminescence, zeroing electron traps of quartz mineralswithin a few minutes at most, an effect which could occur during tsunamiejecta. The filling of traps with electrons produced from environmentalradiation is proportional to the age of sediment deposition which, inturn, determines the date of the event of last exposure to light. Sofar, ages around 2000 BC have been obtained (Zacharias et al. 2009). Another approach to dating the Chiemgau impact was provided byarchaeological assemblages. The excavator of the Chieming-Stottham site(Moslein 2009) suggested, on the basis of archaeological finds, an agefor the impact-related layer somewhere between the Early Neolithic andthe Urnfield culture, i.e. c. 4400-800 BC. The discovery of a Hallstattpotsherd and an iron lump in this layer may be accidental. Potsherdsfound in the ejecta layer of the Tuttensee crater limit the terminuspost quem to 2200 BC (the beginning of the Bronze Age), if not to 1300BC (the beginning of the Late Bronze Age). On the basis of thesedifferent dating methods the terminus ante quem of the Chiemgau impactprobably should be adjusted to 800 BC, while the terminus post quem isnarrowed to 2200, if not 1300 BC. Both the time and location deduced for the mythic 'Fall ofPhaethon' coincide fairly well with the time and location of theChiemgau impact event. We have a location in Western Europe. There ismention of a big river--the Danube River is very close to the affectedregion. There is reference to a lake--Lake Chiemsee was directlyaffected. There is also the indication linking the myth with'Celtic' lands. According to ancient Greek convention, theterm 'Celtic' was used to refer generally to peoples living inthe west of Europe, as perceived from the perspective of an inhabitantof Greece (Dobesch 1995: 29, 32). In this respect it is noteworthy, thatthe region of the Chiemgau impact is situated in the core region of theformer Celtic culture. In addition, using data related to the myth of Phaethon, we deducedthat the hypothesised impact should have happened between c. 2000 and428 BC. Within this time frame, only two meteorite impacts are knownfrom Europe: the already mentioned Kaalijarv event (if it did not happenearlier) of relatively small size, and the much bigger Chiemgau impactwith a number of well-matching details, dated between c. 2200-800 BC. Itis thus possible that the myth of Phaethon preserves some memory of thislast impact event. Transmission of information and reasons to create a myth The details encoded in the myth require the presence ofeyewitnesses close to the area of the impact. From the Tunguska event anumber of detailed reports exist, provided by persons concerned, whoexperienced the event at a distance of 10-60km from the epicentre. Thetopography of the Chiemgau area with its hilly landscape and numerouslakes and rivers may have contributed to the localisation of the effectsof the impact and could have provided insular shelter, e.g. in the leeof a hill. The near peaks of the Alps, rising up to 1500-1700m and about10km away from the biggest crater, provided a perfect vantage pointenabling any observer who managed to find shelter to have observed thescene in detail. But what might have prompted Mediterranean people to construct thePhaethon myth, based upon an event that took place in a remote area?Formerly, people worldwide, among them the ancient Greeks, reactedintensely to the very appearance of a comet, and also to the fall ofcomparably small meteorites, events that might result in cultic memoryfor many centuries (Rappengluck 2005: 324-5). Logically we might assumethat a meteorite impact of the size of that of Chiemgau would at leasthave left traces in the memory of populations nearby. But it isimportant to realise the large dimensions of the Chiemgau impact event.The reconstructed trajectory must have made people of at least allnorthern Eurasia eyewitnesses of the fiery entrance of the celestialobject. The explosion of the body in the atmosphere, supposed to havetaken place at an altitude of c. 70km, could have been visible within acircumference of at least a 500-600km radius. From comparisons with theaudible effects of the Tunguska event it can be estimated that the soundof the explosions could have been heard from a distance of 1000km ormore. The extension and intensity of earthquakes caused by the impactand of the shock waves are hard to estimate. Again the Tunguska event,during which the shock waves circled the Earth twice and the groundshook several hundred kilometres away, gives an idea of the extensionand intensity of such an event. Fragments of the exploding body may havecaused the phenomenon of 'stone rain' even in parts ofSouthern Europe while the fallout of carbon micro-spherules would haveaffected vast areas of Europe. Within the Mediterranean world, differentphenomena must have been noticeable in Northern Italy and some of theeffects evident probably even in more distant parts of Southern Europe.In addition, news of this apocalyptic event would have spread rapidlyand reached the Mediterranean world by established trade routes andother contacts (Schnekenburger 2002). The retelling of these experiencesand associated information must have called for an explanation: it wasan event that was clearly in sharp contrast to the regular order of thecosmos. The invention of the myth of Phaethon would have provided anappropriate answer, a narration that ended up describing the anomalousevent, not as a physical reality, but rather as a mythical rendition ofwhat was a shocking experience in the context of the traditional view ofthe cosmos. When later on the transmitted information had lost itsactual relevance, the dramatic details still afforded a wonderful sourcefor either moral instruction or pure entertainment, and in few instancesthe narrative details still associated with the myth allow traces of itsformer grounding in a physical event to come into view. Conclusions The myth of Phaethon's fall and the Chiemgau impact are notonly similar in terms of place and time, they also share otherstructural elements. In short, the details provided by the geologicalevidence correspond very closely with those found in the mythicaldescriptions. Hence, it can be suggested with good probability that themyth of Phaethon is a geomyth and instantiates some cultural memory of aspecific natural catastrophe, namely a meteoritic impact in the Chiemgauregion. Acknowledgements Our fieldwork would not have been possible without the enormoussupport provided by Rudi Beer, Gerhard Benske, Tom Bliemetsrieder, TillErnstson, Josef Lex, Hans-Peter Matheisl, Ernst Neugebauer and RalphSporn. Also, we would like to thank Dr Gunther Dietz (Heidelberg) forcritical discussions of the Phaethon-texts, and Mag. Kurt W. Zeller([dagger]), the former director of the Celtic Museum of Hallein inAustria, for aiding us in our research by dating potsherds. We thankProf. Roslyn Frank, Iowa (US), for helping us with correcting andsmoothing the English text. Received: 20 July 2009; Accepted: 18 August 2009; Revised: 21September 2009 References The texts of Greek and Latin authors, if not mentioned below, referto the Loeb Classical Library. See H. CANCIK & H. SCHNEIDER (ed.).1996. Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopadie der Antike. Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzlerfor details of the abbreviations of the works of Greek and Latin authorscited in the text. BLOMQVIST, J. 1994. 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Rappengluck (1), Kord Ernstson(2), Werner Mayer (1), Andreas Neumair (1), Dirk Sudhaus (3) &Ioannis Liritzis (4) (1) Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Bahnhofstrasse 1,82205 Gilching, Germany ( (2) Julius-Maximilians-Universitat Wurzburg, Am Judengarten 23,97204 Hochberg, Germany (Email: (3) Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg, Institut fur PhysischeGeographie, 79085 Freiburg, Germany (Email: (4) University of the Aegean, Department of Mediterranean Studies,Dimokratias 1, 85100 Rhodes, Greece (Email:

1 comment:

  1. WOW! What a pile of scholarship from various disciplines.. As a student of mythology and history I had read the Phaeton myth in several forms... the thought that it was a reflection of a forgotten event passed down in oral tradition had never occurred to me. Never heard of Chiemgau either or the fact that large hot celestial object(s) crashed there.. The more ancient date for this event seems likely, and it must have been huge to be passed down eventually to the ancient Greeks... Really enjoyable article! Thanks for posting this