It's always troubling when someone's allegedly scientific conclusions are released not in a peer-reviewed journal but rather in a mass-market book. Readers may also recall that I found it odd that Bond and Hempsell's asteroid scenario required that the Köfels event take place about 3,500 years more recently than the conventional dating of the site indicates. This is because our two friends want to show that an Sumerian artifiact called the planisphere is actually a record of the event, but computer models of the ancient sky from around the accepted dating of the Köfels event don't synch up with the planisphere's depiction of the night sky, but you can get a close match from a computer model of the sky from June 29, 3123 B.C. Widely accepting dating methods be damned, according to Bond and Hempsell. If the planisphere looks kind of like the sky from 3123 B.C. and not like the sky from 6600 B.C., then by golly the Köfels landslide took place in 3123 B.C. and the geologists who've dated it otherwise are wrong.
That in and of itself should set off some warning bells, but Skeptic reviewers Jeff Medkeff and Martin Rundkvist have even more damning criticism of Bond and Hempsell's work. Briefly, Bond and Hempsell claim that the impact at Köfels threw a massive plume of debris backwards along the path of the impacting object, creating a huge plume of fire over much of the ancient mid-east that has since been incorporated into the mythology of the region. As Medkeff and Rundkvist note, all of this supposedly happened without leaving so much as a crater at the Köfels site. Bond and Hempsell's further claim that the impactor was broken up before it struck the Köfels site by glancing impacts against other nearby mountains is also unsupported by observations.
It looks very much like Bond and Hempsell simply came up with a "cool idea" about what the planisphere might represent and worked backwards to find some way to make it mean what they want it to mean. If that meant rejecting physics and geology to make the evidence fit their conclusions, then so be it.
Also, given that some of the early headlines about Bond and Hempsell's hypothesis read "Research Shows Asteroid Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah"*, it may also be worth noting that some of the customer reviews on Amazon go a little something like this (Emphasis added):
The always-hilarious website Conservapedia also has an excited entry on the "Köfels Impact" in which it claims that the non-existent impact provides literal evidence for the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah. Since it also incorrectly cites Mark Hempsell as a geologist (He's actually an aerospace engineering lecturer and England's Bristol University), that whole article can probably be taken with a grain of salt. Still, it looks like the imaginary "Köfels impact" is likely to quickly find its way into the lexicon of Biblical literalists.
I was first interested in the book to see if it confirmed any dates in the long, 13,000 year chronology of the Bible. (See bibletime dot com or Harold Camping's 13,000 year Bible Chronology.) This impact event does match. The impact date given in the book is just after Peleg's first year, (using the Bible Time version) at the time when the earth was "divided." This impact event provides a great explanation of that mysterious reference.
In any event, check out an online version of the Skeptic review here.
*Headline is from FoxNews.com, 4-1-2008.
Also, I know it's not considered an asteroid it it hits the Earth, but I liked the alliteration...