A new analysis of ancient treasures uncovered in Spain has revealed some of the artifacts were made with ‘alien metals’ 3,000 years ago.
Scientists conducted a new analysis of the Treasure of Villena, a hoard of 59 gold-plated objects found in 1963, finding two objects featured meteoric iron.
Meteoric iron is an early-universe protoplanetary disk remnant found in meteorites made of iron and nickel.
A gold-coated cap and bracelet contained the extraterrestrial material from a meteor that crashed into Earth one million years ago, according to the team’s estimates.
A gold-coated cap and bracelet continued the extraterrestrial material from a meteor that crashed into Earth one million years ago
The study explained that meteorite iron is found in certain types of stony meteorites, composed mainly of silicates – a salt made of silicon and oxygen.
‘Since they come from outer space, are composed of an iron-nickel alloy with a variable nickel composition greater than five percent by weight,’ researchers wrote.
‘They also contain other minor and trace chemical elements, cobalt being one of the most significant.’
Using fallen meteorites to fashion objects was a common practice thousands of years ago, as a similar artifact was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
The Treasure of Villena was discovered on the Iberian Peninsula, revealing a look at when people shifted from stone to bronze.
However, the trove likely belonged to an entire community and not a single royal family.
About 90 percent of the collection was made with 23.5-carat gold and includes eleven bowls, three bottles, and 28 bracelets.
The artifacts were discovered by archaeologist José Maria Soler in December 1963, while he and his team were excavating a dry river bed called the ‘Rambla del Panadero’ – about seven miles from Villena.
The treasures have since been housed at the city’s Museum of Archaeology, allowing the new analysis that uncovered the alien metals.
The team of Spanish and Saudi Arabian scientists measured the molecules in each of the pieces, allowing them to look for traces of iron-nickel alloy.
Researchers found a cap and bracelet that featured meteoric iron – the former made up of 5.5 percent of the material and the latter just 2.8 percent.
The artifacts were discovered by archaeologist José Maria Soler in December 1963, while he and his team were excavating a dry river bed called the ‘Rambla del Panadero’ – about seven miles from Villena
Researchers found a cap and bracelet that featured meteoric iron – the former had 5.5 percent and the latter just 2.8 percent
Study senior author Ignacio Montero Ruiz, a researcher at Spain’s Institute of History, told Live Science: ‘The iron technology is completely different to the copper-based metallurgy and to the noble metals (gold and silver).
‘So, people who started to work with meteoritic iron and later with terrestrial iron must [have had to] innovate and develop new technology.’
‘However, the levels of nickel in terrestrial iron are generally low or very low and frequently not detectable in analysis.’
In 2016, researchers at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Milan Polytechnic and Pisa University announced a dagger, intricately decorated and encased within a golden sheath, featuring a blade made from iron from a meteorite.
The team used a similar technique to examine the composition of the metal, matching it to a meteorite named Kharga, which was found in 2000 on the Maras Matruh plateau in Egypt, 150 miles west of Alexandria.
The dagger is considered to be one of the most outstanding items to have been retrieved from Tutankhamun’s tomb due to the fine metalwork is shows.
It was found within the young pharaoh’s sarcophagus.
The handle has a finely embossed gold handle with a crystal pommel while the sheath was decorated with a floral motif, feather patterns and a jackal’s head.