Meteorites brought iron to earth long before we knew how to make it
Every now and then archaeologists find mysterious iron-based weapons or tools which date back to the Bronze Age. Scientists have long been puzzled by the presence of a substance which should not have been possible for Bronze Age craftsmen to produce, with some examples dated 2,000 years before humans discovered how to reach temperatures high enough to craft iron. Now a new study claims it is possible that all of these mysterious iron oddities may have come from outer space.
Sciencealert.com reports the author of the study, Albert Jambon, from the French National Centre for Scientific Research examined specimens from Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and China, subjecting them to analysis by means of an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer.
“The present results complementing high quality analyses from the literature suggest that most or all irons from the Bronze Age are derived from meteoritic iron,” writes Jambon in his published paper.
The results of Jambon’s tests found high levels of nickel in the iron of the Bronze age, which is common in meteorite metal, but not found in iron mined from Earth. Terrestrial iron sees scant levels of nickel, because deposits were drawn into the our molten iron core when the Earth was formed.
The high levels of nickel in all tested specimens suggest that all iron-based tools and weapons from the Bronze Age were harvested from meteorites. While we still do not know the where the process of iron was first discovered, this illumination will help us determine when humanity realized the potential of iron.