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Bronze Age Gold Treasure Crafted With Metal From Meteor

Bronze Age Gold Treasure
The Treasure of Villena comprises 59 objects made of gold, silver, iron, and amber with a total weight of almost 10 kilograms. Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikipedia

A dazzling Bronze Age gold treasure discovered in Spain more than 60 years ago was crafted with metal from a meteor a new analysis reveals.

The hoard, known as the Treasure of Villena comprises 59 objects made of gold, silver, iron and amber with a total weight of almost 10 kilograms, 9 of them of 23.5 karat gold.

This makes it the most important find of prehistoric gold in the Iberian Peninsula and second in Europe, just behind that from the Royal Graves in Mycenae, Greece.

The Treasure of Villena is kept in an armored display case, given its immense value, in the town’s archaeological museum. Experts have always doubted whether it belonged to the post-Argaric period (1,500-1,300 B.C.) or the last stages of the Late Bronze Age (8th century B.C.).

Now, the study “Meteoritic iron in the Villena Treasure?” has added a spectacular fact thanks to metal analysis carried out on some of the pieces: they were made in the Late Bronze Age (1,400-1,200 B.C.) using iron from a meteorite.

The study revealed that the iron used in two of the artifacts originated from a meteorite that fell to Earth around 1 million years ago.

Bronze Age Gold Treasure
A part of the Tesoro de Villena hoard, a bracelet made of iron from a meteor. Credit: Villena Archaeological Museum

Bronze Age Gold Treasure re-examined

The key that leads some researchers to place the chronology of the complex well into the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age is the existence of two iron pieces: a small hollow semisphere covered with a sheet of gold, supposedly interpreted as a pommel of a sword hilt, and an open bracelet.

“They are the first objects found in the Iberian Peninsula that were made with material from beyond planet Earth,” the experts say, according to El Pais.

The pommel is decorated with three bands, crossed by four parallel strips that create four sectors and result in a four-pointed star. The bracelet is an open ring, with rounded and somewhat flattened ends.

Its discoverer described it as “a dark leaden metal. It is shiny in some areas, and covered with a ferrous-looking oxide that is mostly cracked.”

Their analysis has been able to determine that these are not pieces made with terrestrial iron produced by the reduction of minerals existing in the mantle of planet Earth. Instead, they are “extraterrestrial and [were] made during the Late Bronze Age.”

To obtain this data, two tiny extractions were made, under the supervision of the technical staff of the Alicante museum. The samples were then taken to Madrid for analysis at the laboratory of the National Archaeological Museum.

“Meteorite iron is found in certain types of aerolites that, since they come from outer space, are composed of an iron-nickel alloy with a variable nickel composition greater than 5 percent by weight.

“They also contain other minor and trace chemical elements, cobalt being one of the most significant. However, the levels of nickel in terrestrial iron are generally low or very low and frequently not detectable in analysis,” the study explains.

The conclusions obtained in Spain and Germany are clear: “The results of the analyses carried out on the iron pieces from the Villena hoard indicate with a high probability that they are objects made with meteoritic iron.”

Related: Two Alien Minerals Unknown to Earth Found in Meteorite

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