Reply to Doppler et Al. 'Response to "The Fall of Phaethon: A Greco-Roman Geomyth Preserves the Memory of a Meteorite Impact in Bavaria (South-East Germany) (Antiquity 84)"'

By Rappengluck, Barbara; Rappengluck, Michael A. et al. | Antiquity, March 2011 | Go to article overview

Reply to Doppler et Al. 'Response to "The Fall of Phaethon: A Greco-Roman Geomyth Preserves the Memory of a Meteorite Impact in Bavaria (South-East Germany) (Antiquity 84)"'


Rappengluck, Barbara, Rappengluck, Michael A., Ernstson, Kord, Mayer, Werner, Neumair, Andreas, Sudhaus, Dirk, Liritzis, Ioannis, Antiquity


We acknowledge the observations of Doppler et al. on our paper and we are grateful to Antiquity's editor for this opportunity to reply to their objections.

Firstly, it should be noted that we have not claimed that the Chiemsee once included the Tuttensee. We agree that the region in which both lakes lie was glacially formed. But while Lake Chiemsee is the result of the last Ice Age, the Tuttensee basin originates from a much later Holocene meteorite impact. We do not use the myth of Phaeton to date this event that is known as the Chiemgau impact. On the contrary, we estimate from archaeological evidence and OSL dating that the event occurred between 2200 and 800 BC, i.e. the Bronze Age (Rappengluck et al. 2010: 436). We go on to discuss parallels between the independent dating of the Chiemgau impact and the possible time frame of the myth (Rappengluck et al. 2010: 435-37).

Doppler et al. dispute any secondary fall of meteorite parts into Lake Chiemsee, arguing that 'over 200km of seismic profiles' do not show any indication of an impact. However, within the expanse of the 80[km.sup.2] Chiemsee, the seemingly considerable length of 200km only equals a grid of orthogonal seismic profiles with an average mesh size of about 800m. Hence, the proposed 900 x 400m doublet crater with a distinct rim wall (Ernstson 2010: 21; Rappengluck et al. 2010: 430) could have escaped detection.

Doppler et al. describe the Tuttensee crater ring wall as having the shape of a 'terrace' and cite Gareis (1978) in support of its being of glacial formation. However, the original shape is not that shown in Doppler et al.'s fig. 1, since there are artificial gaps in the rim made c. 100 years ago (Baron von Wrede [owner of the Tuttensee] pers. comm.; Ernstson et al. 2010:

88-9). It should also be noted that Gareis several times explicitly excludes a glacial origin of parts of the Tuttensee rim wall (1978: 68).

The centrepiece of Doppler et al.'s argument is the radiocarbon date obtained from a drilling at the edge of Lake Tuttensee. The drilling produced an Early Holocene radiocarbon date and no sign of heat from an impact. However, the date of 12 000 years ago was not obtained from layers inside the basin forming the original cavity of the crater but from outside of it, as illustrated diagrammatically in Figure 1. It is no surprise that the pre-impact layers there date back to the early post-glacial period, but nor are they relevant to the question of a meteorite impact.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Note also that a meteorite impact would not have affected the pre-existing glacial and Early Holocene deposits at the location of the drilling, either with shock or heat. The pressure decreases rapidly with increasing distance from the point of impact and may be a maximum of only a few kbars near the surface beside the crater rim. This also precludes any detectable temperature increase there.

By contrast, a decisive argument for a meteorite impact is provided by the shock metamorphism observed on examples of ejected quartz minerals (Ernstson et al. …

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