The Kaali Meteorite Crater
A set of nine meteor craters lays hidden away in the forest of the Estonian island of Saaremaa. The biggest of them all, nearly circular Kaali, provides a perfect setting for local mythology.
For a long time the creation of the peculiar circular structures was disputed. Were they created by volcanic eruptions or sinkholes formed by karst processes? It was not until the mid- 20th century that its extra-terrestrial origin was first explored when small pieces of meteorite were discovered.
Most likely a 400-1000 ton meteorite entered the earth’s atmosphere area around 4000 years ago. When the huge rock entered the atmosphere it partially evaporated and broke into multiple smaller pieces. At a speed of 20 kilometers per second and with the force of a Hiroshima nuclear bomb the alien rocks struck the island. The largest piece of rock created the Kaali crater with a diameter of 110m. Nowadays Kaali is a circular lake with a depth of a few meters.
Kaali seems to have held significant cultic significance in ancient times. In the Bronze Age an immense stone wall surrounded the banks of the lake and large amounts of animals bones lay scattered. Archaeologist are yet to discover cultic offerings on the bottom of the lake. A thick layer of oak trees on the bottom prevents excavation.
Interestingly the Kalevala epic, a collection of Finno-Ungrian folklore mentions a place that could refer to Kaali. The story mentions an evil wizard by the name of Louhi who steals the sun and thus the light from people. Thus the world is covered in utter darkness. The skygod Ukko attempts to create a new sun from a spark, but the spark bounces back and hits the earth. People observe a ball of fire moving through the sky and attempt to find the source. They run into a lake of fire where they gather the flames and obtain the art of fire once again.
Image: The Kaali crater in 2007: https://tinyurl.com/ybbtkw8w.