Arrowhead Made From 3,500-Year-Old Meteorite Found in Switzerland



A global group of researchers in Switzerland has found {that a} late-Bronze Age arrowhead was initially constructed out of meteoritic iron, in accordance with a study printed in August within the Journal of Archaeological Science

Weighing 2.9 grams and measuring about one and a half inches lengthy and fewer than an inch large, the rust-covered arrowhead was initially excavated within the late nineteenth century from a prehistoric habitation close to Mörigen on Switzerland’s Lake Biel, in accordance with the examine coordinated by the Pure Historical past Museum of Bern. This web site is lower than 5 miles southwest of a recognized area in Bernese Jura, bestrewn with over 2,000 fragments from the Twannberg meteorite, the most important of the eight meteorites which were present in Switzerland, in accordance with the Natural History Museum of Bern. Led by Dr. Beda Hofmann, the analysis staff examined the arrowhead with a number of non-destructive evaluation methods, together with X-ray fluorescence, a course of that analyzes an object’s chemical composition, and high-sensitivity gamma spectrometry, a way that detects radioactive supplies. 

An instance of the Widmanstätten sample on an iron meteorite present in Australia. (picture through Wikimedia)

By these research, the researchers discovered that the flat arrowhead revealed a deformed laminated texture resembling the distinct Widmanstätten sample — layered crystalline markings attribute of iron meteorites. These analyses additionally confirmed that the arrowhead was composed of aluminum-26 isotopes, a “cosmogenic” chemical factor, in addition to traces of an iron and nickel compound that’s in keeping with meteoritic content material, in accordance with the researchers’ findings. Nonetheless, the iron arrowhead’s construction didn’t match the scattered fragments of the Twannberg meteorite. As an alternative, researchers imagine that the arrowhead got here from a special area rock that fell over 3,500 years in the past and left a gaggle of craters in present-day Estonia. They believe that the meteoritic iron was subsequently traded after it was unearthed, and that extra artifacts originating from the identical meteorite “could also be current in archaeological collections,” in accordance with the examine.

“It’s nearly unattainable to ‘see’ that iron is meteoritic,” Hofmann, who heads the Pure Historical past Museum of Bern’s Earth Sciences Division, advised Hyperallergic in an e-mail. “Principally, these should not too attractive-looking rusty objects.”

Hofmann added that he thinks extra data could be gathered if archaeological collections in Europe and past had been “kind of systematically looked for early meteoritic iron,” particularly these containing iron artifacts courting again to the Bronze Age.

“As soon as extra meteoritic objects are recognized, extra analyses could possibly be carried out to check the supply,” Hofmann stated.

Earlier than 1200 BCE, iron was a uncommon materials and largely sourced from meteorites that fell to Earth, in accordance with analysis printed within the Journal of Archaeological Science in 2017.

“Archaeological objects product of meteoritic iron are extraordinarily uncommon,” in accordance with a news release printed by the Pure Historical past Museum of Bern. Whereas meteoritic iron is understood to have been utilized in 55 objects present in 22 completely different websites throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, these artifacts are extraordinarily unusual in central and western Europe, having solely been discovered twice, both times in Poland: an axe in Wietrzno-Bobrka and bracelets in Częstochowa-Raków, in accordance with the examine.

The iron arrowhead can be on show on the Bern Historical past Museum as a part of a particular Bronze Age exhibition opening in February 2024 and operating till April 2025.


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