In a thrilling tale that blurs the line between science fiction and archeology, researchers from the University of Bern have unearthed an extraordinary artifact: a 3,000-year-old weapon made from 'alien iron.' This isn't your ordinary relic; it is an arrowhead forged from a meteorite. This stellar find was discovered at an ancient Bronze Age site named Mörigen, nestled in the heart of Switzerland.
The arrowhead, a mere 1.5 inches in length and weighing just 0.102 ounces, may be small, but its significance is colossal. Geologists conducted meticulous tests on the artifact, revealing a startling composition. The arrowhead contained aluminum-26, a short-lived isotope once abundant in the early solar system. However, this element is not naturally found on Earth. Adding to the mystery, only three meteorites bearing the same unique combination of metals have been known to fall on Earth during the same period. These extraterrestrial visitors touched down in the Czech Republic, Spain, and Estonia. After careful consideration, the Swiss team proposed that the Estonian meteorite, despite being over 1,400 miles away from Switzerland, was the most likely source of the iron used in the arrowhead.
The team employed a variety of investigative techniques, including electron microscopy, X-rays, and high-energy radiation analyses. They determined that the arrowhead was shaped from an iron meteorite primarily composed of kamacite and taenite minerals. These minerals are only found on Earth because they journeyed here from space, embedded in meteorites. These iron meteorites originate from the hearts of ancient planets, which were obliterated around 4.5 billion years ago by catastrophic impacts during our solar system's formative stage. "The style of the iron arrowhead strongly resembles that of bronze arrowheads from the same find complex, even though the fabrication process was very different," the researchers noted in their study. They also found carbon-rich organic material on the arrowhead, likely remnants of tar, suggesting that it was once fastened to an arrow shaft.
The researchers concluded that the Mörigen arrowhead must have come from a large iron meteorite, based on gamma spectrometry and elemental composition. Among the large meteorites from Europe, the Kaalijarv meteorite from Estonia was identified as having a chemical composition consistent with the Mörigen arrowhead. This discovery suggests that the arrowhead may have traveled a vast distance from Estonia, hinting at trade routes for these weapons along the same paths as amber from the Baltic area. It's a captivating reminder of how our ancestors interacted with the cosmos, bringing a piece of the stars right into their hands.