PLEASE NOTE:


*

LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR, 20 January 1999
-----------------------------------------

(1) IS PLUTO A PLANET?
    Jeremy B. Tatum <UNIVERSE@UVVM.UVic.CA>

(2) MARKING TIME
    Duncan Steel <dis@a011.aone.net.au>

(3) NO EVIDENCE FOR SYDNEY TSUNAMI
    Robert McNaught <RMN@AAOCBN3.AAO.GOV.AU>

====================
(1) IS PLUTO A PLANET?
From Jeremy B. Tatum, University of Victoria <UNIVERSE@UVVM.UVic.CA>

So, apparently whether Pluto is a planet or not is to be decided by an
e-mail vote among astronomers, is it? Which astronomers? Who gets to
vote? Is the electoral list to be carefully selected from those who
don't want Pluto to be a planet? Is voting on the nature of an
astronomical body to be the way in which science is now to be
conducted?  May I vote, please? Or is that not allowed? Who says
whether or not it is allowed?

Rather obviously (though apparently not so to everyone) before anyone
can decide on whether or not Pluto is a planet, the word "planet" has
to be defined. We need to know exactly what criteria must be met
before a body can be declared to be, or not to be, a planet. What
about all these "planets" that some people believe are being discovered
around other stars? Very little is known about them, if they exist,
other than that several of them must be very different from any of the
solar planets.

If someone can come up with a useful definition of what constitutes a
planet (a definition not deliberately contrived with the express
purpose of excluding, or including, Pluto) then we can investigate the
properties of Pluto and decide whether it fits the criteria.  Until
then, isn't "voting" on the matter a rather pointless and unscientific
exercise?

Jeremy Tatum

-----------
NOTE FROM THE MODERATOR: Some of the questions raised by Jeremy Tatum
(and some others) are discussed on the IAU Division III webpage "The
Status of Pluto" at http://www.ss.astro.umd.edu/IAU/div3/pluto.shtml

========================
(2) MARKING TIME

From Duncan Steel <dis@a011.aone.net.au>

Dear Benny,

I write with regard to Timo Niroma's comments about the temperature
records of Helsinki, in particular in the 19th century. Timo makes
various comments about the records from there for 1867 showing, he
writes, that year to have had the coldest January/April/May on record.

Now, at the time Finland was part of the Russian Empire and so was
administered on the Julian calendar (which persisted in Russia until
1917, and within the Russian Orthodox Church until later - until now,
in fact; the 'October Revolution' of 1917 actually took place on
November 7th, Gregorian/Western calendar).

With that in mind one might wonder what period 'January 1867' actually
refers to, in Finland.  It would be offset by 12 days from January 1867
counted in (say) London or Rome. Obviously a calendar shift of this
order will affect a comparison of climate records for months given the
same label (January 1867 is not the same time of year/season as January
of any year post-1917, in Finland).

My point is that even in the best of circumstances the comparison of
'monthly' temperature records is difficult in a scientific sense
(because the Gregorian leap year cycle leads to a variation of 53 hours
of the time within the year of the vernal/spring equinox). When the
calendar has been changed (by 13 days when Finland escaped the Russian
Empire in 1917 and resumed the Gregorian/Western calendar), such
comparisons become very dubious in value.

Finland has one of the most confused calendar histories of all
countries. It was part of Sweden from the 13th century until 1809, when
the Russians incorporated it and put it back onto the Julian calendar.
Prior to that it followed Sweden, meaning that there were all sorts of
peculiarities in the dating (e.g., in 1712 Sweden and hence Finland had
a February 30th), although they were on the Gregorian/Western calendar
from 1753.

For more details see my book *Marking Time*, which will be published
later this year.

Best regards,

Duncan Steel

=====================
(3) NO EVIDENCE FOR SYDNEY TSUNAMI

From Robert McNaught <RMN@AAOCBN3.AAO.GOV.AU>

Is it really possible that an impact induced tsunami innundated the
inhabited Nepean area of Sydney of the 1860s without record by the
colonists or the astronomers and meteorologists present there at the
time?

Cheers, Rob


*

A DESCRIPTION OF THE TEL LEILAN IMPACT EVENT IN A HITTITE MYTH?
THE SONG OF ULLIKUMMI

From E.P. Grondine <epgrondine@hotmail.com>

While looking through Hittite materials related to the T'e
Hantilish/Tantalus/Joshua event (forthcoming), I stumbled across "The
Song of Ullikummi", which appears to be the mythical description of a
fairly massive impact event, and most likely of the Tel Leilan impact
event itself.

In the main the text here is from "The Song of Ullikummi: Revised text
of the Hittite version of a Hurrian Myth, Hans Gustav Guterbock,
Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, publisher The American
Schools of Oriental Research, New Haven, Connecticut, 1952", with the
following significant changes:

1) In an attempt to relate some of the poetic qualities of the Song,
Guterbock made his translation as nearly interlinear as he possible
could. Guterbock acknowledged the awkwardness of the result, and here
word order has been modified slightly to give the translation an easier
flow.

2) It is clear that the logogram (d)U, usually translated as "Storm
God" or "Weather God", is better translated by "Sky God", as it is
evident that (d)U is supposed to control not only the weather but also
impactors. In a similar way nepisi, translated as "Heaven", is clearly
no mythical place, as in Christian tradition, but instead a very real
place, a "Celestial Realm", which is used here.

3) Guterbock was puzzled (page 55) as what kind of stone (NA)kunkunuzzi
was. It is clearly a meteorite-stone, having recieved its name
onomatopoetically from the sound of the explosion, kunkun, that
impactors make when they hit. Some changes come from alternatives
suggested by Guterbock in the commentary: (GIS)siiattal is clearly best
translated as "spear point", as Guterbock suggested (page 54) and not
as "blade", which he used.

4) The enclitic -ma, which Guterbock always translated as "but", is
sometimes replaced by "while", when the opposition in sense is weak, or
it has been dropped entirely.  Other changes substitute synonyms; and
the pronoun "the" has been replaced in the conversation formula by
"these" where appropriate.

[ASIDES ARE IN CAPITALS ENCLOSED IN BRACKETS AND INITIALED - EPG]

[DEDICATION - EPG]

[Who....]
[And] in [whose] mind there is [....]
[Into his mind] wisdom he takes.
Of Kumarbi, Father of all the Gods, I shall sing.

[BEGINNING - EPG]

Kumarbi takes wisdom into his mind,
and he raises as evil a bad day.
And against the Sky-God he plans evil,
and against the Sky-God he raises a rebel.

Kumarbi [takes] wisdom into his mind,
and sticks it on like a bead.

[THIS MAY BE A REFERENCE TO CRENELATION WORK IN JEWELRY MAKING - EPG]

When Kumarbi had taken wisdom into his mind,
he promptly rose from his chair.
He took a staff into his hand,
he put the swift winds upon his feet as shoes.

And from (his) town of Urkishh he set out;
And to the Cold Pond he came.

[THE MEANING OF ikunta luli, "COLD POND" IS UNCLEAR, BUT IT IS
SOMEPLACE IN SPACE. GUTERBOCK (page 4) IDENTIFES Urkish AS BEING
PROBABLY EAST OF THE TIGRIS, IN THE EASTERNMOST PART OF THE HURRIAN
REALM, BUT POSSIBLY IT IS A MYTHICAL LAND IN THE EAST WHERE THE EARTH,
THE SKY, AND THE CELESTIAL REALM MEET. "LEAGUE" IS USED IN TRANSLATION
IN AN APPROXIMATE AND NOT EXACT WAY AS A UNIT OF MEASUREMENT. - EPG]

When Kumarbi arrived,
There lay in Cold Pond
A great Rock.
Her length is three "leagues",
while her width is [1] "league"
and a half "league".

What she has below,
Upon this [...]
His mind sprang forward.
And with the rock he slept,
And into her his manhood [flowed],
And he took her five times,
And he took her ten times again.

[A BREAK IN ALL THE TABLETS OCCURS.  WHEN THEY CONTINUE, FOR SOME
REASON THE SEA-GOD HAS BEGUN TO SUSPECT WHAT HAS HAPPENED.  SINCE THE
SEA WAS HIT BY AN EARLIER IMPACTOR, AS WILL BE SEEN LATER IN THE SONG,
THE SEA-GOD HAS SENT HIS VIZIER IMPALURI TO MAKE SURE THAT KUMARBI IS
NOT PLANNING TO HIT HIM AGAIN. THE TABLETS PICK BACK UP AT THE END OF
IMPALURI'S VISIT TO KUMARBI. - EPG]

[...Kumarb]i, the Father of the Gods,
Remains upon his throne.

(...Impaluri) saw Kumarbi,
(...Impaluri) went to the Sea-God.

And Impaluri to the Sea-God began to speak these words:
"What my lord [...] me,
close to the Sea-God[...]
I [...]
[On his throne] Kumarbi, Father of the Gods,
remains seated."

When the Sea-God heard Impaluri's words,
The Sea-God began to speak again to Impaluri:
"O Impaluri, my Vizier,
The words which I speak to you,
[to my words] hold (your) ear,
Go and speak these strong words to Kumarbi,
Go, and say to Kumarbi:

"Why did you come in anger against my house?
So that trembling seized (my) house,
And fear seized (my) servants?
For you, cedar resin has long been broken;
For you, dishes have long been cooked;
For you, by day and night, the singers hold set the lutes.
Get up, and come to my house.'"

And he got up, (xImpaluri)
And Impaluri went before him.

And Kumarbi [came out of his] house,
And Kumarbi traveled,
And he went into the Sea-God's house.

And the Sea-God spoke:
"They shall set a stool to sit on for Kumarbi;
They shall set a table before him;
They shall bring him (things) to eat and to drink,
And they shall bring him beer to drink."

The cooks brought dishes,
And the cup-bearers brought sweet wine to drink to him.
They drank once;
They drank twice;
They drank three times;
They drank four times;
They drank five times;
They drank six times;
They drank seven times.

And Kumarbi began to speak to his vizier Mukishanu:
"O Mukishanu, my Vizier,
The word which I speak to you,
To me hold (your) ear:
Take a staff into (your) hand,
Put shoes upon your feet.
Now go [...]
And into the waters [...]
And speak these words before the waters:

[A BREAK IN ALL THE TABLETS OCCURS. IT APPEARS THAT KUMARBI AND THE
SEA-GOD REACH AN AGREEMENT, AS THE SEA-GOD'S VIZIER IMPALURI LATER
WORKS AS A MESSENGER FOR KUMARBI. THE TABLETS PICK BACK UP WITH THE
BIRTH OF ULLIKUMMI, THE COMET WHICH WILL IMPACT. - EPG]

When the night [...]
When the middle night watch came,
[...] came.
The Stone [...] the Stone,
And [...],
And [...they] brought him to birth,
[...] the Rock [...]
[...] Kumarbi's son [...]

They brought him to birth [...the midwives],
and the Fate-Goddesses and the Mother-Goddesses took the child,
and they placed him on Kumarbi's knee.
Kumarbi began to rejoice over this son,
and he began to fondle him,
and he began to give a dear name to the child.

[THE BIRTH OF THE COMET AND PRESAGE OF THE NEXT PART OF THE SONG FOLLOW
IMMEDIATELY. THE COMET IS COMPARED TO A SPEAR POINT AT THIS TIME, BUT
IT WILL GROW IN LENGTH AS IT GOES SUNWARD, AS WILL BE SEEN. GUTERBOCK
(page 5) IDENTIFIES KUMMIYA, THE RESIDENCE OF THE SKY-GOD, TESUB, AS
BEING LOCATED IN THE MOUNTAINS OF SOUTH-EASTERN ANATOLIA, AND THE NAME
ULLI/KUMMI IS PROBABLY DERIVED AS A COMPOUND OF THE PLACE NAME KUMMIYA.
TASHMISHU IS THE SKY-GOD'S BROTHER. - EPG]

Kumarbi in his own mind began to speak:
"What name shall I put on him,
On the son whom the Fate-Goddesses and Mother-Goddesses gave me?

Out of (her) body like a spear point he sprang -
He shall go!

Ullikummi shall be his name!
He shall go up to the Celestial Realm to kingship!
Amd he shall press down the beloved town of Kummiya!
He shall hit the Sky-God,
and he shall pound him (into) salt,
and he shall crush him like an ant with his foot,
He shall break off Tashmishu like a [...] reed!
He shall scatter all the Gods down from the Celestial Realm like birds,
And he shall break them like empty vessels!"

[KUMARBI NOW REALIZES HE WILL HAVE TO HIDE HIS SON ULLIKUMMI FROM HIS
INTENDED VICTIMS, LEST THEY DISCOVER ULLIKUMMI AND STOP HIM. THE "DARK
EARTH" IS BEST UNDERSTOOD AS THE VOID OF COSMIC SPACE.- EPG]

When Kumarbi had ceased to speak (these) words,
He began to speak (again) in his own mind :
"To whom shall I give him, this son?
Who will take him,
And treat him as a gift?
And who will [...]
And who will carry him to the [dark] earth (/the void of cosmic space/)?
(So that) the Sun-God of the Celestial Realm
And the Moon-God shall not see him?
He shall not see him,
The Sky-God, the brave king of Kummiya,
and he shall not kill him?
She shall not see him,
Ishtar, queen of Nineveh,
and she shall not break him off like a [...] reed?"

Kumarbi began to speak to Impaluri:
"O Impaluri,
I speak to you these words,
to my words hold your ear:
Take a staff into your hand,
Put upon your feet as shoes the swift winds!
And go to the Irshirraas-Gods,
and speak before the Irsirras-Gods these strong words:

'Come.
He calls you,
Kumarbi, Father of the Gods,
to the House of the Gods.
But the matter about which he calls you,
(that you know not).
Now come promptly!'"

When Impaluri [heard these words],
He took the staff into his hand,
He put the shoes upon his feet,
and Impaluri traveled forth.

And he came to the Irsirraas,
[And Impaluri] began to speak the words again to the Irshirraas-Gods:
"Come.
He calls you,
Kumarbi, Father of the Gods!
But the matter about which he calls you,
You know not.
Now hurry, come!"

When the Irshirraas-Gods heard the words,
They hurried, hastened,
and they [rose from their throne],
And they covered the way at once (in an instant),
and they came to Kumarbi.

[KUMARBI TELLS THE IRSHIRRAAS-GODS TO TAKE ULLIKUMMI AND PUT HIM ON THE
SHOULDER OF UPELLURI, AN ATLAS-LIKE GOD WHO CARRIES ON HIS BACK BOTH
THE CELESTIAL REALM AND THE EARTH. - EPG]

And Kumarbi began to speak to the Irshirraas-Gods:
"Take [this child],
And [treat] him as a gift,
And carry him to the dark earth (/the void of cosmic space/).
Hurry, hasten!
And put him as a spear point
upon Upelluri's right shoulder!

[DESCRIPTION OF GROWTH OF THE COMET'S TAIL AS IT APPROACHES SUNWARD. IN
THE TRANSLATION "YARD" AND "FURLONG" STAND IN FOR UNKNOWN UNITS OF
MEASUREMENT. DESCRIPTION OF THE COMET'S COMA - EPG]

In one day he shall grow a "yard";
In one month he shall grow a "furlong";
The stone which is at his head,
His face shall cover."

When the Irshirraas-Gods heard these words,
They took [the child] from Kumarbi's knees.
The Irshirraas-Gods lifted the child,
And they pressed him unto their breast like a garment.
And they lifted him like [th]e win[ds],
and they placed him on Enlil's knees.

And Enlil lifted his eyes,
and he saw the child.
The child was standing before the Deity:
The child's body (was) made of stone,
of meteorite-stone.

And Enlil began to speak in his own mind:
"Who is he, this child,
Who the Fate-Goddesses and Mother-Goddesses raised again?
Who would see them [any longer],
the great Gods' strong battles?

This is an evil plan
of no one but Kumarbi!
(Just) as Kumarbi raised the Sky-God,
so he raised this Meteorite-stone as (a) rebel against him!"

[THE COMET NOW APPEARS IN THE CELESTIAL REALM AND APPROACHES THE SUN. -
EPG]

When Enlil [ceased to speak] these words,
they put the child as a spear point
upon Upelluri's right shoulder.

He grew up, the Meteorite-stone,
and the strong [...] raised him:
In one day he grew one "yard",
In one month he grew one "furlong";
The stone which was at his head,
his face covered.

[EITHER ONE MONTH AND 15 DAYS, OR 15 DAYS ALONE, PASS BETWEEN THE
COMET'S FIRST APPEARANCE AND THE COLLISION OF FRAGMENTS FROM IT WITH
THE SUN. - EPG]

When the fifthteenth (15th) day came,
The Stone had grown high.
And he stood in the sea on his knees (point)
like a spear-point.
The Stone, he stood out of the water,
and his height was like [...],
and the Stone reached from the sea like a garment
up to the "Place of the Belt".
The Stone, like a [...] he was lifted,
And he reached up to the temples and chamber
in the celetial realm.

[FRAGMENTS FROM THE COMET NOW IMPACT WITH THE SUN - EPG]

The Sun-God looked down from the Celestial Realm,
and he saw Ullikummi.
And Ullikummi saw the Sun-God of the Celestial Realm [as well].

And the Sun-God began to speak in his own mind:
"What swift God [is standing] in the sea?
His body is not like that of the [...] Gods."

The Sun-God of the Celestial Realm turned [his face],
and he went out to the sea.
And when the Sun-God came out [to the sea],
The Sun-God held (his) hand to his forehead.
[...]
and from his anger
his [...] became altered.

[A SECOND DAY GOES BY.  THE SUN-GOD LEAVES THE CELESTIAL REALM AND
VISITS THE SKY-GOD IN KUMMIYA.  AFTER A FEAST, THE SUN-GOD RETURNS TO
THE CELESTIAL REALM. IT SEEMS LIKELY THAT A FRAGMENT OF THE COMET HIT
THE EARTH, THE DUST BLOCKED OUT THE SUN FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, THE
DUST SETTLED, AND THE SUN REAPPEARED. - EPG]

When the Sun-God of the Celestial Realm saw the Stone,
the Sun-God [crossed] again the horizon for a second time.
[...u]p he traveled,
and to the Sky-God he went.

And when he saw the Sun-God coming,
Tashmishu (the Sky-God's brother) began to speak these words to the Sky-God:
"O Sky-God, my lord!
Why does he come,
The Sun-God of the Celestial Realm,
[The king] of the land?
That matter about which he comes,
(that) matter is grave,
it is not to be cast aside.

It is strong, the struggle!
It is strong, the battle!
It is the uproar of the Celestial Realm!
It is the land's hunger and death!"

The Sky-God began to speak to Tashmishu:
"They shall set up a chair,
for his seating;
They shall lay out a table,
for his eating."

While they were speaking thus,
The Sun-God arrived [at] their [house].
They set up a chair for his seating,
But he did not sit down;
They laid out a table for his eating,
But he did not reach out;
They gave him a cup,
But he did not put his lips to it.

And he, the Sky-God, again began to speak to the Sun-God:
"Is the chamberlain bad,
who set up the chair,
so that you did not sit down?
Is the steward bad,
who set the table,
so that you did not eat?
Is the cup bearer bad,
who gave you the cup,
so that you did not drink?"

[END OF FIRST TABLET.  BEGINNING OF SECOND TABLET BADLY FRAGMENTED.]

The Sky-God again [began to speak to the Sun-God:]
"[Why] do you not eat [...?]
[...] pleasant [...?]"

[The Sun-God] again began to speak [to the Sky-God:]
"[...] refused [...]
[...] about wh[at ...]"

[ALL TABLETS BREAK OFF HERE. WHEN THEY PICK BACK UP, THE SKY-GOD HAS
LEARNED ABOUT ULLIKUMMI FROM THE SUN-GOD. - EPG]

[When] the Sky-God heard [these words],
his [appearance] became altered from his anger.

And the Sky-God again began to speak [to the Sun-God of the Celestial
Realm]:
"The bread on the table shall become pleasant.
Now eat!
The sweet wine in the cup shall become pleasant.
Now drink!
Eat, and fill yourself.
Drink, and satisfy yourself.
Then get up,
and go up to the Celestial Realm."

When the Sun-God of the Celestial Realm heard [these words],
his mind within him rejoiced.
The bread on the table became pleasant,
[and] he ate.
The sweet wine in the cup became pleasant,
and he drank.
And the Sun-God got up,
and he went up to the Celestial Realm.

[THE SKY-GOD, HIS BROTHER TASHMISHU, AND ISHTAR GO TO MOUNT HAZZI,
IDENTIFIED BY GUTERBOCK, (page 5), AS SEMITIC ZAPHON, GRREK KASION
OROS, AT THE MOUTH OF THE ORONTES IN NORTH SYRIA. FROM
THERE THEY SEE THE METEORITE-STONE. - EPG]

After [the departure of the Sun-God of] the Celestial Realm,
The Sky-God took wisdom into his mind.
And the Sky-God and Tashmishu took each other by the hand,
and they came out of the chamber, the temple.

Ishtar came with bravery from the Celestial Realm,
And Ishtar again spoke in her own mind:
"Where do they run, the two brothers?
I shall go and see them."

Ishtar instantly took a stand,
and she stood up before her two brothers.
And they (all) took each other by the hand,
and up to Mount Hazzi they went.

And the King of Kummiya set his face,
He set his face upon the dreadful Meteorite-stone,
And he saw the dreadful Meteorite-stone,
and from his anger his [...] became changed.

And the Sky-God sat down on the ground,
and his tears flowed forth like streams.
The Sky-God, his eyes tearful, spoke these words:
"Who can endure it any longer, this one's violence?
And who can fight any longer?
And who can endure it any longer, this one's fearfulness?"

Ishtar again spoke to the Sky-God:
"O my brother!
Neither [....]
nor little does he know,
but bravery has been given to him ten fold!
And the son whom [...] beget for themselves,
[...] you know not.
[...] in Ea's house we were,
[... if] I were a man,
You would [...]
I shall go [and ...]

[THE TABLETS BREAK OFF. WHEN THEY CONTINUE, ISHTAR HAS GONE TO THE SEA
TO SEEK HELP. ISHTAR THROWS A PEBBLE IN THE WATER TO RAISE A GREAT
WAVE, WHICH MAGICAL RIGHT PROBABLY REFLECTS MEMORY OR MYTHS OF AN
EARLIER IMPACTOR WHICH PRODUCED A TSUNAMI. - EPG]

But [she took] a harp and a galgalturi,
[...] she lifted.
and a song [she began to sing],
[...] of the Earth [...].
And Ishtar, she sang,
And the sea's (?)
She put a pebble on.

Then out of the sea a great wave rose,
The great wave spoke to Ishtar:
"Who do you sing in front of?
Who do you fill your mouth with [...] in front of?
The man is deaf, and does not hear.
He is blind in his eyes, and does not see.
And he has no mercy.

Go away, O Ishtar,
And find your brother:
As long as he has not yet become brave,
As long as his head's skull has not yet become dreadful."

When Ishtar heard thus,
She quenched the [...],
She threw away the harp and the galgalturi,
She [...] golden [ornaments]
And wailing [...] she went,
[...]

[THE TABLETS BREAK COMPLETELY HERE.  THEY CONTINUE AS THE SKY-GOD
PREPARES FOR BATTLE AND GIVES ORDERS TO TASHMISHU. IN THE TRANSLATION
"FURLONG" IS USED IN AN APPROXIMATE AND NOT EXACT WAY AS A UNIT OF
MEASURE. THIS SECTION CONTAINS A DESCRIPTION OF THE IMPACT BALST
ITSELF, AND NOTE THAT THROUGH SOME KIND OF MAGICAL THINKING, THE POWER
OF THE IMPACTOR HAS BEEN TRANSFERRED TO OUR HEROS, THE SKY-GOD AND HIS
BROTHER TASHMISHU.  - EPG]

[...] they shall mix fodder,
and they shall bring perfumed oil,
and they shall annoint Serisu's horns,
while they shall cover with gold Tella's tail,
while they shall turn the axle.
And they shall bring strong [...(harnesses)] to their inside,
while to the outside, they shall set strong stones as blinders.

They shall call forth the thunder-storms:
The rains and winds which break the rocks for ninety "furlongs",
while they cover them for eight hundred "furlongs".
They shall call forth the rains and the winds!

They shall bring out of the sleeping room
the lightning, which strongly flashes,
And they shall bring out the carts.

Now arrange, set them,
and bring me back word."

When Tashmishu heard the words,
he hurried, hastened.
[He brought] Serisu from the pasture,
while he brought Tella from (Mount) Imgarra.
And he [... them] in the outer porch,
and he brought perfumed oil,
and he annointed Serisu's horns,
while [he covered with gold] Tella's tail,
while he [...] the axles,
while he set strong stones to the outside [as blinders].

He called forth the thunder-storms:
The rains and winds which break the rock for nintey "furlongs",
[...]

[THE TABLETS BREAK OFF AT THIS POINT. THEY CONTINUE AS THE BATTLE IS
JOINED. "YARDS", "LEAGUES", AND "FURLONGS" ARE USED IN THE TRANSLATION
IN AN APPROXIMATE AND NOT EXACT WAY. THIS PASSAGE CONTAINS A
DESCRIPTION OF THE GROWTH OF THE BLAST CLOUD. - EPG]

[...] one thousand "yards",

[... The Sky-God] took a stand to fight.
Then he took the battle gear,
and he took the carts,
and he brought the clouds from the Celestial Realm.
And the Sky-God set his face on the Meteorite-stone,
and he saw him.
And his height was [...]
and again his height one hundred and eighty [or three times][...] was
turned.

The Sky-God began to speak to T[ashmishu]:
"The cart [...]

[ALL TABLETS BREAK OFF AT THIS POINT.  THEY CONTINUE AFTER TASHMISHU
HAS CARRIED THE SKY-GOD'S INSTRUCTIONS TO ANOTHER GROUP OF GODS, WHO
NOW JOIN THE BATTLE. - EPG]

[THE COMET APPROACHES FROM THE SOUTH, FRAGMENTS ON ENTERING THE EARTH'S
ATMOSPHERE, AND THE FRAGMENTS FALL INTO THE "SEA". - EPG]

When the Gods heard the word,
They took their place in the carts.
[...] they assigned.
Astabi sprang [upon his cart...],
and on the cart he [...].
[...] the carts he arrayed,
[...].
And Astabi, he thundered,
and Astabi let go with thunder down towards the sea.
And they drew [...water].
And Astabi [...];
[...] Seventy Gods took.
But still he was not able [...]

And A[stabi ....],
and the Seventy Gods [fell] down into the sea.
[...]

[THE INITIAL IMPACT - EPG]

[...] the Meteorite-stone his body [...]
[...]
and he shook the Celestial Realm.
[...] he [...]ed
The Celestial Realm [...] like an empty garment he [...]ed.
And the Meteorite-stone [...] became high:
Before [...] one thousand nine hundred "leagues",
[...] "leagues".
And the Meteorite-stone stood down on the Earth,
like a [...], the Meteorite-stone, he was lifted,
and he reached the chamber and the temple.

[THE BLAST CLOUD GROWS. IT BLINDS HEBAT, THE SKY-GOD'S WIFE. -  EPG]

The Meteorite-stone, [his height was] nine thousand "leagues",
while his width was nine thousand [...].
And he took his stand in Kummiya like a [...],
And the Meteorite-stone rose above Hebat and the temple:
So that Hebat could not hear news of the Gods,
(and) she could not see with her eyes the Sky-God and Suwaliyatta.

[HEBAT, THE SKY-GODS WIFE, SENDS HER ATTENDANT TAKITI TO FIND OUT WHAT
HAS HAPPENED TO HER HUSBAND, BUT THE ROAD HAS BEEN COMPLETELY DESTROYED
BY THE IMPACT. - EPG]

Hebat began to speak these words to Takiti:
"I hear not the weighty word of the Sky-God;
I hear not news of Suwaliyatta and the Gods.
This Meteorite-stone Ullikummi of whom they speak,
Perhaps he has defeated him, my husband, the weighty [King...]!

Hebat began to speak again to Takiti:
"Hear my words!
Take a staff into your hand,
Put the sw[ift winds] upon your feet as shoes,
[...] Go!

When Takiti heard the words,
She hurried, hastened,
[...] out draw[n...]
[...] went:
And there was not a road!

[Takiti return]ed,
and she came to Hebat.
[Takiti again began to spe]ak [to Hebat]:
"My Lady, [...] me
[...]

[ALL TABLETS BREAK OFF HERE.  THE AUDIENCE, AS WELL AS HEBAT, IS KEPT
IN SUSPENSE AS TO THE COURSE OF THE BATTLE FOR SOME TIME. AS THE
TABLETS RESUME, THE SKY-GOD HAS DISPATCHED HIS BROTHER TASHMISHU TO
CARRY NEWS TO HIS WIFE HEBAT. - EPG]

When Tashmishu heard the Sky-God's words,
He promptly rose.
He took a staff in his hand;
He put the swift winds as shoes upon his feet.

And he went up into a high tower,
and he took [his place] opposite Hebat, saying:
"The Sky-God bade me to go to a humble place,
until he will have fulfilled the years that are decreed for him."

When Hebat saw Tashmishu,
Hebat almost fell from the roof.
Had she taken a step,
she would have fallen from the roof.
But the palace women held her,
and did not let her (go).

[THE TEXT BECOMES MORE AND MORE MAGICAL FROM THIS POINT ON. THE
SKY-GOD AND TASHMISHU GO TO EA, AN OLDER GOD, WHO IN TURN SPEAKS WITH
UPELLURI, THE ATLAS-LIKE GOD WHO CARRIES BOTH THE EARTH AND THE
CELESTIAL SPHERE ON HIS SHOULDERS. IT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MAGICALLY
CONCLUDED BY THE MYTH'S CREATORS THAT SINCE THE COMET WAS NO LONGER IN
SPACE, THE GODS HAD DEFEATED HIM. BUT THE TABLETS BECOME TOO
FRAGMENTARY, AND IT IS CLEAR FROM THE TALE ITSELF THAT THE ACCOUNT OF
THIS IMPACT WAS COMBINED WITH OLDER MYTHICAL MATERIAL, THE "TABLETS OF
THE FORMER WORDS". - EPG]


When Tashmishu had ceased to speak the word,
he stepped down from the tower,
and he went to the Sky-God.
Tashmishu again began to speak to the Sky-God:
"Where shall we sit down?
Shall we sit down on (Mount) Kandurna?
[If] we sit down on (Mount) Kandurna,
another will be seated upon (Mount) Lalapaduwa.
Where shall we carry [the ...]?
There will be no king above in the Celestial Realm."

Tashmishu again began to speak to the Sky-God:
"O Sky-God, my lord!
Hear my words!
The words which I speak to you,
To my words hold your ear inclined!
Come! Let us go to Apsuwa, before Ea,
[...] we shall ask again for the tablets of the former words.

Now when we arrive before the gate of Ea's house,
We shall bow before Ea's door five times,
and again before Ea's inner door five times,
While when we arrive before Ea,
then before Ea we shall bow fifteen times.
[And to] Ea it will perhaps [...],
and Ea perhaps will listen,
and he will have mercy upon us,
and he will assign us (our) former rule."

When the Sky-God heard Tashmishu's words,
he hurried, hastened.
From his chair he promptly rose.
[The Sky-God and Tasmis]u took each other by the hand,
and they covered the way at once (instantly, immediately),
and [they arrived] at Apsuwa.

[And the Sky-God] went to Ea's house,
and before Ea's first door he bowed five times,
and before the inner door he bowed five times,
[while when] they arrived before Ea,
before Ea he bowed fifteen times.

[...] stood up,
[...] began to speak:
[...]

[ALL TABLETS BREAK OFF AT THIS POINT. THEY CONTINUE AS EA CONTEMPLATES
A COURSE OF ACTION. - EPG]

[...] the word [in] (his) mind not [...],
Ea [took] wisdom [into his mind],
and he stood up,
and he went [...] into the courtyard.
Ea [...],
and all the Gods stood up [before] him,
and the Sky-God, the brave king [of Kummiya],
[stood up be]fore [him].

Ea saw the Sky-God,
[and] from (his) anger his [appearance] became changed.
[...]

[ALL TABLETS FRAGMENTARY.  AS THEY RESUME, ENLIL APPEALS TO EA TO HELP
THE SKY-GOD. NOTE ALSO THAT EA SEEMS TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR CLIMATE
CHANGE DURING THE YEAR: THUS ENLIL'S PLEA IS SEEKING TO STAVE OFF
CLIMATIC COLLAPSE. - EPG]

By the hand they [took each other],
[...]
While [...]
[...] came out of the assembly.
[Enlil ...]
and he began to wail:
[...]
"May you live, O Ea!
[...] who comes back and forth,
[...] of the Gods' propitiation [...].
Why did you transgress it [...]?"

Ea began to speak to Enlil:
["Do you not know, O Enlil?]
[Has no one brought] you a word?
Do you not know him,
the rebel who Kumarbi fashioned against the Sky-God,
[the Meteorite-stone who in the water] grew?
His he[ght ...]
[And] like [a...] he is lifted."

[FRAGMENTARY. EA RESPONDS TO ENLIL'S PLEAS, AND GOES TO UPELLURI. NOTE
THAT EA RECOUNTS THE IMPACT ITSELF TO UPELLURI, AND THAT THIS PASSAGE
DOES NOT RELATE TO ULLIKUMMI'S BIRTH.  THUS MAGICALLY, SINCE THE COMET
IS NO LONGER VISIBLE IN SPACE, THE GOD WILL DEFEAT THE COMET, AND
FULFILL THEIR ROLES AS PROTECTORS.  - EPG]

When Ea ceased to speak the words,
He went to Upelluri,
[...],
And Upelluri [lifted] (his) eyes,
[and he saw Ea.]
Upelluri began to speak to Ea these words:
"May you live, O Ea!"
And he stood up,
[and Ea in turn began to wish] life to Upelluri:
"May he live, Upelluri,
upon the dark earth (/in the void of cosmic space/),
(he) upon whom [the Celestial Realm and Ear]th are built!"

Ea began to speak again to Upelluri:
"Do you not know, O Upelluri?
Has no one brought you word?
Do you not know him,
the swift God whom Kumarbi fashioned against the Gods?
And that Kumarbi [has made] death plans against the Sky-God,
and fashions a rebel against him?
The Meteorite-stone who grew in the water,
do you not know him?
And like a [...] he is lifted,
And (that) he covered the Celestial Realm, the holy temples, and Hebat?
Is it because you, Upelluri,
are remote from the dark earth (/cosmic space/),
that you do not know this swift God?"

Upelluri again began to speak to Ea:
"When they built the Celestial Realm and Earth upon me,
I knew nothing.
(And) when they came,
and they cut apart the Celestial Realm and Earth with a cutter,
this, too, I did not know.
Now, something makes my right shoulder hurt,
but I do not know who he is, this God."

When Ea heard these words,
He turned Upelluri's right shoulder,
and there on there on Upelluri's right shoulder
stood the Meteorite-stone like a spear head!

Ea again began to speak to the Former Gods:
"Hear my words, O Former Gods,
Who know the former words!
Open them again, the old fatherly, grandfatherly, store-houses,
and bring the Former Fathers' seal,
and with it seal them again!
And they shall bring out the former saw,
with which they cut apart the Celestial Realm and Earth,
[And...] saw under the feet of Ullikummi, the Meteorite-stone,
whom Kumarbi raised as a rebel against the Gods."

[ALL THE TABLETS BREAK OFF AT THIS POINT.
WHEN THEY CONTINUE, TASHMISHU IS TELLING EA ABOUT THE DESTRUCTION THAT
THE IMPACT CAUSED. - EPG]

But Tashmishu [...],
[before Ea] he prostrated himself,
[...] began to speak:
"[...]
[the ...] in his body have been altered,
[on his] head the hair has been altered."

Ea again began to speak to Tashmishu:
"Go ahead with my son!
Do not stand up before me!
My mind within me became angry:
With my eyes I saw the dead [...] on [... the] Earth:
They are dust,
while the [...] are standing up!"

Ea began to speak again to Tashmishu:
"First I struck him, Ullikummi, the meteorite-stone.
Now you go and fight him again!
The Meteorite-stone shall no longer stand as a spear-point!"

Tashmishu [...] began to rejoice,
and he shouted three times,
and he went up to the Celestial Realm,
and the Gods heard it.
He shouted twice,
and the brave King of Kummiya,
the Sky-God heard it.
And they came to the assembly place,
and all the Gods began to bellow like bulls
against Ullikummi, the Meteorite-stone.

Then the Sky-God sprang upon his cart like a [...],
and he went with thunder down to the sea.
And he fought him,
The Sky-God fought the Meteorite-stone.

The Meteorite-stone began to speak the words to the Sky-God:
"What shall I tell you?
O Sky-God, Keep fighting!"
And also his (whose?) [...] stands within his mind.

"What shall I tell you?
O Sky-God, Keep fighting!"
Kumarbi stuck wisdom into his mind like a bead.

"I will go up to the Celestial Realm, to kingship;
and I will take Kummiya, the dear town, temple, and dwelling;
while I will scatter the Gods down from the Celestial Realm like
birds."

[THE REMAINDER FRAGMENTARY - EPG]

When one considers that Guterbock had no idea of the underlying
physical phenomena which was being described in the myth, cometary
impact, his work in restoring the Song becomes truly remarkable.  Now
that the phenomenon is positively identified, it will be up to those
far more skilled than I am to give us a new edition of the text: I am
completely ignorant of the work which must have been done on it since
1952.

What can be learned from the text at this point?  If the myth has an
actual basis in a real event, and given the efforts which were put into
it by the ancients, one can not but conclude that it does; then if there
are no other destruction layers in the Tel Leilan area, one can conclude
that it is an account of the Tel Leilan impact event itself.

The Tel Leilan impactor can be identified as a comet.

If the "belt" which the comet's tail reached to could be identified,
then the absolute size of it could be determined.  While I am ignorant
of Hittite astronomical terms, I am bold (or foolish) enough to suggest
that perhaps the Hittites saw the Milky Way as Upelluri's (Atlas's)
belt. If so, the size of the comet was staggering, and one is left to
wonder if any of its fragments still remain in orbit.

The comet traveled either one month and 15 days or 15 days alone from
its first appearance until fragments from it collided with the Sun.  It
struck the Earth coming in the direction of the Earth's orbital travel,
instead of directly. It seems probable that the comet's fragments
spread out, and that one fragment from the comet hit the Earth a day
before the fragment at Tel Leilan, and that this impact was
sufficiently large to raise a dust cloud which obscured the Sun.

The town of Kummiya was in the impact area.

Approximate estimates for the real distances of the Hittite words which
Guterbock translated as "yards", "leagues", and "furlongs", have
undoubtedly been made since 1952, and if they were to be substituted
into the text, perhaps approximate estimates of the size of the
impactor and the blast could be made.

Given the involvements of other older Gods in this impact myth, it
seems most likely that there was an earlier impact which caused a large
tsunami which flooded the region.

Somewhat fittingly, it has been raining and thundering here for the
last two days. In closing this introduction, I echo Guterbock, "That
this interpretation is not final goes without saying." Someone with far
greater abilities than mine (and with far better resources at hand)
needs to work through these texts.

E.P. Grondine

Copyright 1999, E.P.Grondine



CCCMENU CCC for 1999

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