The Daily Mail today discusses Graham Hancock's theory that human civilisation is much older than conventionally agreed, but was set back - practically wiped out - by a meteor strike c. 13,000 years ago. It seems that there is now not only mythological and geological*, but also archaeological evidence to support his contention:
The DM writer, Christopher Stevens, says Hancock believes the meteor may have come from the Taurid meteor stream, which the planet is due to pass through again in 2030, potentially disastrously:
"Hidden within that belt, according to astrophysicists, is an unexploded bomb of a planetoid, a superheated rock like an orbiting hand grenade.
"Sealed inside its thin crust is a boiling mass of tar, building up pressure until it detonates. Thousands of white-hot boulders, a mile or more across, will be set spinning through the meteor stream . . . but we cannot say for certain when that will occur.
"Many of these asteroids could be three times the size of the one that hit our planet 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs.
"If one of those strikes, it could quite literally bring about the end of the world. And we are due to cross the Taurid meteor stream in 13 years, around 2030."
Large hits associated with the Taurids may occur periodically (e.g. the 1908 Tunguska explosion in Siberia), according to this article from the June 1992 edition of Discover magazine:
What's not clear to me at the moment is why 2030 should be a particular date of dread, when we cross the Taurid stream twice a year (I happen to think meteors may be the root of beliefs about fire-breathing dragons.) However, this prediction evokes in me a memory of the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi, which ends by quoting a prophecy from the Hopi indians of Arizona, USA:
"A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."
Both a prophecy, and a memory: the new archaeological research paper referenced in the DM is about a decoding of an 11,000-year-old monument unearthed in Turkey, which appears to describe the strike (2,000 years after the event) and shows the constellations as they were in ancient times.
According the DM, the Ojibwa tribe still has a folk memory of a "Long-Tailed Heavenly Climbing Star which swept out of the sky to scorch the earth. Their myths relate that it left behind ‘a different world." The tribe is now in Canada but previously (18th century) lived in northern US states such as Ohio and like many other peoples may have wandered much more extensively before; not that it matters exactly where they were at the time of impact, since the whole world was affected.
13 years, then.
As Ford Prefect tells the useless B Ark survivors in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy:
"Well I have got news, I have got news for you. It doesn’t matter a pair feted dingo’s kidneys what you all choose to do from now on. Burn down the forests, anything. It won’t make a scrap of difference. Two-million years you’ve got, and that’s it. At the end of that, your race will be dead, gone, and good-riddance to you. Remember that. Two. Million. Years."
And as the Captain replies:
"Ah. It’s time for another bath. Hmph. Pass me the sponge somebody will you?"
We didn't die out last time, either.
*"...compelling physical evidence, in the form of giant boulders, platinum deposits and tiny diamonds found across North America — the detritus of a colossal impact."