Researchers Discover Bronze Age Treasure Made of Meteorite

Researchers Discover Bronze Age Treasure Made of Meteorite

The magnificent treasure from Bronze Age Spain. (Photo: © Enrique Íñiguez Rodríguez via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

Meteorites—meteors which survive their plummet through the atmosphere to collide with Earth—are fascinating. They can contain substances not found on Earth, they might hold traces to the origins of life, and they can even be worth money. Their worth and special mystique has been recognized since ancient days. For example, a dagger crafted from iron with roots in space (hence from a meteorite) was found in King Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt. These serendipitous falls were likely how mankind discovered and learned to work iron. Among the fascinating ancient artifacts of the sky are two pieces of ironwork discovered within the incredible Treasure of Villena. Discovered in Spain, the 3,000-year-old artifacts show a connection between Earth and heavens that has been prized for centuries.

In 1963, gravel excavations turned up a gold bracelet in Villena, Spain. Archeologist José María Soler García soon uncovered a hoard of gold items contained in a vessel. The treasure comprised an impressive 66 pieces in gold and silver. They include intricate bracelets, bowls, and other artifacts—some of which are more mysterious. One item may be the pommel of a sword. It features a spherical design with a star-like pattern and a metal pin. This object is interest for its material as well. It is iron sheathed in gold. Meanwhile, among the gold bangles is one of iron too.

These items are something of a puzzle. The hoard dates to the Bronze Age about 3,000 years ago. At the time, iron smelting would likely not have reached Spain as a technology. So how did these items come to be? As it turns out, they are likely from the iron within a meteorite. A recent study used testing methods to check nickel levels in the iron. Finding them elevated, this indicates an extraterrestrial origin. Mass spectrometry was also used to check for elements such as cobalt which can provide a similar “space” signature. In total, it seems very likely that the Villena bracelet and spherical object are in fact crafted from iron that fell from space.

The Treasure of Villena is a Bronze Age hoard of gold discovered in Spain in 1963 and which dates back 3,000 years.

Researchers Discover Bronze Age Treasure Made of Meteorite

The bottom left item, a composite sphere, is one of the items with meteorite traces. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5 ES DEED)

Two of the objects contain iron, which researchers have now discovered is from a metoerite.

Researchers Discover Bronze Age Treasure Made of Meteorite

The Treasure of Villena on display, (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 DEED)

h/t: [Gizmodo]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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