Article: Myth of Phaethon

Barbara and Michael Rappenglück (2006): Does the myth of Phaethon reflect an impact? – Revising the fall of Phaethon and considering a possible relation to the Chiemgau Impact. – Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Proceedings of the International Conference on Archaeoastronomy, SEAC 14th 2006, “Ancient watching of cosmic space and observation of astronomical phenomena”, Vol. 6, No. 3 (2006), 101-109.

Abstract. – In Greek mythology there exists one story that has repeatedly been interpreted to describe the fall of a celestial body: the story of Phaethon, who undertakes a disastrous drive with the sun-chariot of his father Helios. First, the article presents the arguments given by ancient authors for interpreting this story as the reflection of a natural phenomenon. Then details given in the old descriptions of Phaethon’s fall are compared with nowadays knowledge of impact phenomena. Furthermore the texts are examined for clues to the time and the location of the hypothesised impact. These considerations substantiate the suggestion that the myth of Phaethon reflects a concrete strike of a meteorite, the so-called Chiemgau Impact. That impact struck the south-east of Bavaria/Germany at some time during the Celtic period and left an extended crater-strewnfield of about 100 craters. A conspicuous intersection between the tradition of the Phaethon-story and the up to now known time-frame for the Chiemgau Impact gives new clues for dating the Chiemgau Impact to the time between 600 and 428 BC.