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Archaeologists discover ancient tools that actually came from space

December 5th, 2017 at 6:01 PM
iron meteorite tools

We may still be looking for proof that aliens exist, but new research into some very curious ancient tools now reveals that humans were using extraterrestrial material long before mankind even dreamed of flying out of Earth’s atmosphere. The findings, which were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, reveal that some incredibly old iron artifacts date to a time well before humans had the technological wit to smelt iron ore, and as it turns out, the iron used in their construction actually fell from the sky.

Archaeologists have long suspected that the iron occasionally found amongst Bronze Age artifacts had otherworldly origins, but actually testing those weapons and tools proved more challenging than you might imagine. Preservation is key when it comes to objects that have been lying in wait for thousands of years to be discovered, so many types of testing simply can’t be done for fear of damage. The researchers found a way around that, and made a fantastic discovery.

Using an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer to detect the elements in the iron tools and other objects without actually degrading the items, the researchers were able to determine that the material was consistent with iron found in meteorites which fought through Earth’s atmosphere and smashed into the surface. Confirming higher levels of nickel and cobalt than terrestrial iron typically has, the iron tools are almost certainly carved out of space rocks.

The meteorite explanation also helps to clear up how iron tools have been found intermixed with Bronze Age artifacts. In the areas of Syria, Turkey, and Egypt where the iron implements were found, humans simply didn’t have the technology or knowhow to efficiently smelt iron or into usable material at that time, but meteorites rich with iron would have arrived on the surface in a state suitable for tool-making.

Whether the individuals who made the tools knew of the material’s origins is impossible to determine. Did they actually see meteorites strike the Earth and find the iron, or were the meteorite remains long-buried deposits that were stumbled upon by chance? That’s a question we’ll unfortunately never know the answer to.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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