13 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

3,000-year-old Treasure on the Iberian Peninsula made with material from a meteorite

Scientists have recently discovered that some of the pieces in the amazing Bronze Age collection known as the Villena Treasure, which was found in Spain more than 60 years ago, contain iron that came from an alien meteorite that crashed into Earth about a million years ago.

Treasure of Villena contains artifacts fashioned from precious materials like gold, silver, amber, and iron. Each piece within this collection tells a story of the culture, technology, and traditions of the people who lived during the Bronze Age, between 1400 and 1200 B.C.

Scientists who have delved deeper into the origins and structure of the Villena Treasure are now revealing unexpected information. They concluded that some of the objects were made from extraterrestrial material. Specifically, meteoric iron, a material originating in space, was identified in some of the artifacts.

A remarkable discovery regarding this old hoard has been made possible by recent research: two of the iron objects were made with iron that fell to Earth from a meteorite some million years ago. The objects, a hollow sphere covered in gold sheeting and a bracelet in the form of a C, were symbols of a link between the earthly and heavenly realms in addition to being exquisite examples of prehistoric handiwork.

A sword pommel from the Villena hoard, made with iron from a meteorite and inlaid gold which forms a four-pointed star motif. Photo: REPERTORIO DIGITAL CSIC
A sword pommel from the Villena hoard, made with iron from a meteorite and inlaid gold which forms a four-pointed star motif. Photo: REPERTORIO DIGITAL CSIC

At the time of its discovery, certain iron elements had intrigued researchers due to their distinctive appearance, evoking a leaded metal, shining in places and covered in an oxide resembling iron. The research, published on December 30 in the journal Trabajos de Prehistoria, analyzed two iron pieces.

The study reveals that the iron used for these artifacts indeed comes from a meteorite, thanks to spectrometric mass analyses that identified an iron-nickel alloy similar to that of meteoritic iron.

According to the research team’s findings, one of the Spanish treasures, an iron bracelet, was fashioned from iron and nickel. This is significant since meteoric iron usually contains over 5 percent nickel.

A part of the Tesoro de Villena hoard, a bracelet made of iron from a meteor. Photo: MUSEO ARQUEOLÓGICO DE VILLENA
A part of the Tesoro de Villena hoard, a bracelet made of iron from a meteor. Photo: MUSEO ARQUEOLÓGICO DE VILLENA

These are the first and oldest meteoritic iron artifacts discovered on the Iberian Peninsula. They shed light on Late Bronze Age metallurgical practices while also demonstrating how these cultures innovated with new technologies. As a result, these artifacts serve not only as historical treasures but also as windows into the past, providing insight into the development of new technologies and societal evolution.

These objects join the rare artifacts of meteoritic iron known from the first millennium BC, such as an arrowhead discovered in Switzerland and some objects in Poland.

So far, the data suggests that the composition of the Spanish artifacts is similar to that of the Mundrabilla meteorite from Australia. However, it is currently impossible to say with certainty that ancient populations used the materials from this specific meteorite to create these valuable treasures. The researchers intend to conduct additional investigations in the future.

Cover Image: turismovillena.com

Related Articles

2,700-year-old Children’s Cemetery unearthed in Turkey’s Tenedos

2 March 2024

2 March 2024

A 2700-year-old children’s cemetery was discovered during ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Tenedos in Bozcaada,  southeast of the...

12,000-Year-Old rock art may depict extinct giants of the ice age

13 March 2022

13 March 2022

South America was filled with ice age animals more than 12,000 years ago, including car-sized ground sloths, elephantine herbivores, and...

Isles of Scilly Iron Age warrior buried with a mirror and sword was probably a woman

27 July 2023

27 July 2023

Archaeologists conducted a DNA analysis of the tooth enamel of a person who died more than two millennia ago on...

A massive Rune stone found under a kitchen floor in Denmark declared treasure

8 June 2023

8 June 2023

A couple in Denmark discovered a massive rune stone weighing approximately 900 kilograms during a home renovation project that planned...

Archaeological excavations started again after 50 years in Tunceli Tozkoparan mound

28 June 2021

28 June 2021

Archaeological excavations at the Tozkoparan Mound in Turkey’s Tunceli province are anticipated to turn the city into one of eastern...

The place of Puduhepa’s hometown Lawazantiya will be illuminated with Tatarlı Höyük

9 November 2021

9 November 2021

Excavations at Tatarlı Höyük (mound) are trying to reach findings that will enable the determination of the location of Lawazantiya,...

British archaeologists unearth the 1200-year-old man-made island

13 February 2022

13 February 2022

A team holding excavations and archaeological surveys on the historic Al Sayah Island in Muharraq, Bahrain found that it’s ‘man-made’,...

A first in 35 years! Child grave with bracelets and gifts found in ancient city of Kelenderis

25 June 2022

25 June 2022

During this year’s excavations in the ancient city of Kelenderis, founded on the Mediterranean coast in the southern province of...

Researchers excavating the burial site along Caleta Vítor Bay in northern Chile found an Inka Tunic or unku

15 February 2023

15 February 2023

A recently published study, co-authored by a research professor at George Washington University, looks at the Inka Empire’s (also known...

400-year historical document confirms the martyrdom of Japanese Christians

27 February 2021

27 February 2021

In Japan, the suppression of Christianity increased from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 17th...

The new study presents evidence suggesting the use of threshing sledges in Neolithic Greece as early as 6500 BCE, about 3000 Years Earlier than Previously Thought

17 May 2024

17 May 2024

The threshing sledges, which until a few decades ago was used in many Mediterranean countries from Turkey to Spain to...

1300-year-old stone sculpture from the ancient Turkish era found in Kazakhstan

3 August 2021

3 August 2021

A 1,300-year-old stone sculpture from the early Turkish period was discovered in Kazakhstan’s south, around 250 kilometers (155 miles) from...

An 8,200-year-old temple structure found in Çatalhöyük

6 September 2022

6 September 2022

An 8,200-year-old temple structure was found during the 30th excavation season of the excavations at Çatalhöyük, one of the first...

For the first time in Turkish history, a gold belt buckle depicted the face of a Göktürk Khagan found

19 December 2023

19 December 2023

A social complex (Külliye) and new artifacts from the Western Gokturk period were discovered in Kazakhstan. Among these items, a...

2,000-year-old altar found in Alexandria Troas

9 October 2021

9 October 2021

A 2,000-year-old altar was unearthed during the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Alexandria Troas, in a region close...