Researchers have now learned that iron from an alien meteorite that struck Earth almost a million years ago can be detected in some of the artifacts in the incredible Bronze Age collection known as the Villena Treasure, which was unearthed in Spain more than 60 years ago.
Artifacts made of priceless resources such as iron, gold, silver, and amber can be found in the Treasure of Villena. Every item in this collection provides insight into the customs, technology, and way of life of those who lived in the Bronze Age, which spanned from 1400 to 1200 B.C.
Researchers who have studied the structure and origins of the Villena Treasure in greater detail are now disclosing previously undiscovered facts. They came to the conclusion that certain items were composed of materials from other planets. In particular, it was discovered that some of the items contained meteoric iron, a substance that originated in space.
Recent study has enabled a stunning revelation regarding this ancient hoard: two of the iron objects were formed from iron that fell to Earth from a meteorite some million years ago. Exquisite examples of archaic workmanship, the objects—a hollow sphere coated in gold sheets and a bracelet shaped like a C—were also symbolic of a connection between the heavenly and earthly realms.
Some iron elements had piqued the interest of scientists when they were first discovered because of their unusual appearance—they looked like leaded metal, shone in specific areas, and were coated in an oxide that looked like iron. Two iron objects were examined for the study, which was published on December 30 in the journal Trabajos de Prehistoria.
Thanks to spectrometric mass investigations that found an iron-nickel alloy resembling meteoritic iron, the study concludes that the iron used for these artifacts does, in fact, originate from a meteorite.
The research team discovered that an iron bracelet, one of the Spanish treasures, was made of nickel and iron. Given that meteoric iron typically contains more than 5% nickel, this is substantial.
A meteorite-forged iron bracelet, part of the Tesoro de Villena trove.
These are the Iberian Peninsula’s earliest and most ancient meteoritic iron artifacts. They show how these cultures innovated with new technology and also give information on the metallurgical processes of the Late Bronze Age. Because of this, these objects are not only priceless historical relics but also windows into the past that shed light on the advancement of new technology and the growth of society.
These items join the collection of uncommon meteoritic iron artifacts that date back to the first millennium BC, which also includes some things from Poland and an arrowhead found in Switzerland.
Thus far, the information points to a composition similar to that of the Australian meteorite Mundrabilla and the Spanish artifacts. It is now impossible to determine with certainty, therefore, whether prehistoric people made these priceless artifacts using components from this particular meteorite. The scientists plan to carry out more research in the future.