Rock Carving Linked To 1000-Year-Old Supernova Sighting

Two things trouble me about the following analysis. First, the confidence based on a simulation that the creator of the petroglyph was looking at just what they think s/he was looking at. It seems to me that an artist 3 inches taller or shorter than expected or someone working a few days earlier or later than expected might see something very different.

More importantly, a huge part of this interpretation is that the supernova glyph is with a scorpion glyph. First, how can they be so sure it is a scorpion. More cautious people have suggested we can *never* know what a glyph represents. Worse — is there any reason to believe the Hohokam thought that constellation looked like a scorpion, our Western interpretation? Not only did native peoples have no reason to call Orion Orion, they didn’t even see a hunter; some folk see a door or gate, some see a tool for starting a fire. That this is a scorpion and connected to that constellation is a huge presumption, in my mind. mjh

Rock Carving Linked To 1000-Year-Old Supernova Sighting by Staff Writers

Astronomers announced Monday they have discovered a possible link between a symbol on an ancient rock carving and a supernova that occurred 1,000 years ago.

Reporting at the 208th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, John Barentine, with Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico and Gilbert A. Esquerdo, with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., said they think a petroglyph, found in the White Tanks Regional Park in Arizona depicts the well-known supernova of A.D. 1006.

The petroglyph is located in an area once occupied by prehistoric Native Americans called the Hohokam, which archaeologists think lived in the area – outside modern-day Phoenix – from about A.D. 500 to 1100. …

“The supernova of 1006 was perhaps the brightest such event visible from Earth for thousands of years, reaching the brightness of a quarter moon at peak,” Barentine said, “yet to date no representations of the event have been identified in Native American art.” …

“Quantitative methods such as carbon-14 dating are alternative means to assign ages to works of prehistoric art,” said Barentine, who studies Southwest archeology as a hobby. “But they lack precision of more than a few decades, so any depiction in art that can be fixed to a specific year is extremely valuable.”

He admitted, however, that “Without my background in astronomy, I probably wouldn’t have recognized the petroglyph for what it might represent.”

To support their hypothesis, Barentine and Esquerdo created an accurate model of the night sky on May 1, 1006, which shows the relative position of the supernova with respect to the constellation Scorpius matches the relative placement of scorpion and star symbols on the rock.

Petroglyphs are among the most durable and longest-lasting human art forms. They are made by cutting a rock surface using a smaller, handheld rock. …

Similar petroglyphs have been identified as likely depictions of historic astronomical events in the prehistoric Southwest. One of the most widely recognized examples is the pictograph near Penasco Blanco in Chaco Canyon National Monument, New Mexico.

There, a painted rock symbol is theorized to depict the supernova of July 4, 1054. As for the White Tanks Regional Park petroglyph in Arizona and its suspected relationship to the 1006 astronomical event, astronomers do not yet consider the results conclusive.

The next step will be to conduct chemical-dating test, which rely on the abundance of certain elements in the rock varnish. The tests could help confine the range of dates in which the petroglyph was created.

A result substantiating an early 11th century date of origin would lead considerable credence to the claim that the prehistoric symbol represents the 1006 supernova event.

supernova petroglyphNew Scientist SPACE – Breaking News – Native Americans recorded supernova explosion by Zeeya Merali and Kelly Young

To make his case, Barentine and his colleague Gilbert A. Esquerdo, at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, used planetarium software to recreate the sky as it would have appeared in Arizona during the supernova’s appearance and overlaid it with photographs from the site.

The supernova would have been brighter than a planet, and both it and the constellation – which is shaped like a scorpion – would have appeared just above the edge of the rock, in the same orientation depicted in the carvings. Native Americans populated the region during that period and often recorded objects thought to have magical powers, says Barentine.

“It’s by no means conclusive, but I think it’s strong circumstantial evidence that the art depicts the supernova,” says Barentine. He announced his theory at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, on Monday.
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“a lot of thoughtful readers wrote in with a very good question: Scorpius is an ancient Greek invention, so what are the chances that Native Americans living more than an ocean away looked up at the night sky and also saw in the stars the outline of a scorpion?”