[meteorite-list] Nakhla Dogs Lives!
From: Rob Wesel <nakhladog_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue Nov 2 15:40:43 2004
>From my upcomming website
The Nakhla Dog
A Century of Conflict
Beheira is a region of rich farming land located in the middle of the Nile
delta. Its densely populated and fertile landscape is dotted with mud huts
and every other square inch is under intense cultivation with fields growing
a wide variety of crops such as wheat and cotton as well as strawberries,
okra and cucumbers. It is perhaps best known for its production of a fine
variety of tobacco which is used in huqqah smoking.
On the 28th of June, 1911 at nine o'clock in the morning while standing in
one of those fertile fields, a farmer by the name of Mohammed Ali Effendi
Hakim observed something strange in the skies about his village of Denshal,
near Nakhla (40 kilometers south-east of Alexandria). First he heard a
"terrific" noise in his field and then looking up he saw that the sky had
been streaked with a "fearful column" of white smoke. A dog, which had been
there only moments before had been transformed into "ashes in the moment".
To be born a dog in the modern Middle East would not, I think it's a
reasonable to say, be the luckiest thing in the world. That seems especially
so in a country like Egypt where in ancient times dogs had been considered
sacred (and were even mummified) but were now, at least since the advent of
Islam, thought of as unclean and lowly creatures fit only for hunting and
guard duty. But the fate of Hakim's dog would have to be considered an
extremely unlucky case of being at the wrong place at exactly the wrong
Sometime before he crawled out from his resting and venturing out into
Egyptian summer heat (that "sometime" being anything between 11 and 1,300
million years before) a massive meteor plummeted into the surface of the
planet Mars. Its impact was so great that it launched into space several
tons of Martian volcanic and sedimentary material.
This material went into orbit around the Sun where it collided with other
rocks, broke into smaller particles and got bathed in cosmic radiation. At
the time when the fragment of rock that later became known as the Nakhla
meteorite broke away from the other material, Hakim's dog's wolf-like
ancestors had only just diverged from their fox-like cousins (Mohammed Ali
Effendi Hakim's ancestors meanwhile had not yet differentiated themselves
from orangutans or gorillas).
It was said at the time that the death of the dog was the only fatality ever
recorded for a meteorite. It was certainly this angle of the story that led
the Egyptian newspaper "Al Ahali" to send a reporter to Denshal to interview
the farmer who showed him a greenish fragment covered in pitch. He said that
numerous shards had plummeted to earth and buried themselves to depths of up
to one meter. The news when it was translated into English prompted a few
British scientists, who were residents of Egypt, to visit the strewnfield
area. They succeeded in recovering about 10 kilograms of the meteorite.
Curiously, none of them visited Denshal or communicated any further with
Hakim whose eyewitness account was the very first report of the event. John
Ball of the Egyptian Survey Department stated that the meteorite would
probably have been lost to science altogether "but for the action of a
farmer, Mohammed Ali Effendi Hakim, who communicated a note of the
occurrence to the Arabic Newspaper El Ahali". But after discussions via
telegram with an official in Denshal, Ball concluded that the dog story was
the likely "product of a lively imagination".
The debate continues today as to the verity of Hakim's account and the
existence of the dog but one can not escape its reference in virtually every
major text and reference from The Catalog of Meteorites to NASA.
Did the dog exist? Oh yes, we saw to that a century ago. Apocryphal or
We are the music makers...
and we are the dreamers of the dreams.
Willy Wonka, 1971
Received on Tue 02 Nov 2004 03:40:31 PM PST