June 25, 2008
Via Jerry Pournelle
Scientists using archaeological and astronomical evidence have pinpointed the most likely date for the return of Odysseus to his wife Penelope, April 16, 1178 B.C ( about noon). The accuracy was due to the fact that only one total eclipse was visible from Greece during any time in the ballpark for an actual war between Greece and Asia Minor. Additionally several other astronomical events (some quite rare) occurred about this time that seem to be alluded to in the Odyssey.
The date given is fairly close to the most likely time frame of the fall of Illos/Troy and in any event astronomical cycles are likely a more precise dating system than some of the archaeological dating techniques.
More here, here and here.
In one of Asimov's books, collections of his column from F&SF, he wrote about another historical event in Asia Minor. Two tribes went to war. That being how things were done in those days, they picked a location and arranged a day, and both armies showed up, ready to fight it out.
Except that just as they were about to start, there was an eclipse. This scared the hell out of everyone. Both kings took it to be a message from the Gods, and they immediately swore eternal peace. According to the story as related by Asimov, they never fought again, until they were both swallowed up by the Persians.
Asimov said it was the oldest historical event for which historians had an exact date and time. I don't remember what it was, but it was amazingly ancient.
This one may have beaten it.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wed Jun 25 21:12:21 2008 (+rSRq)
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