A 3,000-year-old weapon made of ‘alien iron’ has been found near a lake in Switzerland.
An arrowhead made from a meteorite was recovered from an ancient Bronze Age site called Mörigen, which has produced a wealth of space rocks throughout history.
Geologists at the University of Bern tested the artifact’s composition, including aluminum-26, a short-lived isotope that was once abundant in the early solar system but does not occur naturally on Earth.
In Europe, however, only three meteorites containing the same combination of metals have fallen to Earth at about the same time: one in the Czech Republic, another in Spain and the third in Estonia.
The team believes the Estonian space rock was the likely candidate, which is more than 2,200 kilometers from Switzerland.
An arrowhead made from a meteorite was recovered from an ancient Bronze Age site called Mörigen, which has produced a wealth of space rocks throughout history
The arrowhead is 1.5 inches long and weighs only 0.102 grams.
The team used several methods to test the composition, including electron microscopy photographs, X-rays and analyzes of high-energy radiation.
The pointy piece is made from an iron meteorite made primarily of kamacite and taenite minerals that are only found on Earth because they fell from space.
Iron meteorites are derived from the cores of ancient planets that were destroyed by catastrophic impacts during the formation of our solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.
“The style of the iron arrowhead is very similar to that of bronze arrowheads from the same find complex, even though the manufacturing process was very different,” the team shared in the study.
“The attached carbon-rich organic material probably represents remnants of tar, probably wood (birch?) tar, suggesting it was once attached to an arrow.”
While the arrowhead was originally found in Lake Biel sometime in the 19th century, it was tucked away in the Bern History Museum where it was rediscovered and tested.
The team used several methods to test the composition, including electron microscopy, X-rays and analyzes of high-energy radiation. Pictured is the arrowhead captured in an X-ray, showing structure and fractures filled with iron
Researchers initially thought the space rock used to make the weapon came from the Twannberg meteorite that crashed into Switzerland about 160,000 years ago.
However, further analysis of meteorites with the same competition showed that this was not the case.
“The Mörigen arrowhead must be derived from a large (at least 2 tons pre-atmospheric mass) IAB iron meteorite based on gamma spectrometry and elemental composition,” the study reads.
‘Of the large IAB meteorites from Europe, three have a chemical composition similar to Mörigen’s arrowhead: Bohumilitz (Czech Republic), Retuerte de Bullaque (Spain) and Kaalijarv (Estonia).
“Kaalijarv is a large meteorite that produced a series of impact craters (the largest, called Kaalijärv, is 110 m (360 ft) in diameter, note the different spelling of meteorite and crater) on Saarema Island in Estonia.”
The team believes the arrowhead came from Estonia, suggesting that people traded the weapons through the same routes from the Baltic area as amber.