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Science File | In Brief

Meteorite Is Linked to Culture Declines

November 12, 2001

A meteorite crashing into the Mideast may provide an explanation for why so many early cultures went into a sudden decline about 2300 BC, according to geologist Sharad Master of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. The Akkad culture of central Iraq and the 5th Dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom are among the cultures that suffered at the time.

Satellite photographs reveal the presence of what appears to be a crater about two miles in diameter in the Al'Amarah region, about 10 miles northwest of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Master reported in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science. The area would have been a shallow sea about 4,000 years ago.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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