Satellite imagery has uncovered an ancient meteor crater as Duane Hamacher follows a trail of breadcrumbs left by aboriginal legends. The legend tells of a mysterious “star” that fell from the sky and smashed into the Earth at approximately the area described. The Astrophysicist took the story literally and scanned the area using satellite imaging software Google Earth. What he discovered was that some stories have quite literal interpretations.
Perhaps what’s most interesting about this story is just how accurate a spoken word legend was after being told and retold over the course of so many years. The legend tells clearly of an event that must have happened thousands of years ago, but details it in such a way that no one would ever guess the historical record hadn’t been written down right away and just kept in a vast library for that whole time.
The site is called Puka by the local Arrernte people who have been roaming the land for longer than the ancient bunya bunya trees that dot the landscape. The Arrernte story was confirmed when Hamacher visited the site of the impact in September of 2009 and examined the geological evidence present which confirmed that with no sign of erosion or seismic/volcanic activity the crater could only have been created by a meteor impact.
This discovery is noteworthy in an anecdotal way, but also because the incident brings about a question about the efficacy of ancient anecdotal evidence in the form of folklore. It seems this certainly is evidence of effective historical record keeping using no more than the word of mouth. It therefore seems it would be advantageous to historians to take a second look at the legends of the stories cultures keep, as these word of mouth legends seem to survive in better circumstances than even written records do. And what can we then say of the mysterious stories told by ancient cultures of men coming down from the stars to speak with those on Earth? Are we to assume these are the exception merely because they work outside our current understanding of the universe? Consider this: The Arrernte people were telling the story of a star falling from the sky and impacting with the Earth long before the western world had a complex understanding of the Earth and its nature amongst the stars. When the world was suspected to be flat, and nothing was supposed to be in the heavens aside from a massive obsidian blanket with pinholes cut into it by the gods, according to early Roman Lore, the Arrernte were keeping an accurate record within a hundred kilometers of a major meteorological impact that had happened in the centuries preceding them. Had they told the story of Gods descending and speaking to them they wouldn’t be believed. Would they have been believed in the dark ages if they told a story of a star falling from the sky?