Ancient Arrowhead Made From Meteoritic Iron Found Near Lake in Switzerland

Angel Yuan
By Angel Yuan
August 9, 2023Science & Tech
Ancient Arrowhead Made From Meteoritic Iron Found Near Lake in Switzerland
An arrowhead made from meteoritic iron found in Switzerland. (Courtesy of Thomas Schüpbach/Bern History Museum via CNN)

A 3,000-year-old arrowhead was discovered to have been made out of iron from a meteorite, according to a study by researchers at the Natural History Museum of Bern in Switzerland.

Originating from between 900 and 800 BC, the arrowhead—measuring 1.5 inches and weighing 0.1 ounces—was found in Mörigen on Lake Biel, Switzerland. The rare artifact was unearthed during excavations of a late Bronze Age settlement conducted in the 19th century.

Scientists confirmed that the metal was of meteoritic origin through the discovery in the metal of aluminum-26 isotopes, which are only found in items that originated outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

The arrowhead was found less than 5 miles from the site of the Twannberg meteorite, which experts previously thought had been the source. However, a detailed analysis found that the nickel content of the arrowhead was almost twice as high as in the local meteorite debris.

Researchers say that the most likely source was a meteorite that fell in Kaalijarv, Estonia.

“Among large IAB meteorites from Europe, three have a chemical composition consistent with the Mörigen arrowhead: Bohumilitz (Czech Republic), Retuerte de Bullaque (Spain), and Kaalijarv (Estonia),” the study authors wrote.

Moreover, the analysis demonstrated that the relatively low content of aluminum-26 suggests that the artifact comes from within a meteorite that initially weighed a minimum of 2 tons.

“This large crater-forming fall event happened at [roughly] 1,500 years BC during the Bronze Age and produced many small fragments,” the study states.

One such fragment could later have traveled to Mörigen along trade routes, lead study author Beda Hofmann told CNN.

“Trade across Europe during the Bronze Age is a well-established fact: Amber from the Baltic (like the arrowhead, presumably), tin from Cornwall, glass beads from Egypt and Mesopotamia,” Ms. Hofmann said.

Before humanity discovered how to process iron from oxide ores, arrowsmiths relied on iron from meteorites.

“Evidence of such early use of meteoritic iron is extremely rare,” the Bern Museum said in a statement.

The arrowhead will be on display at Berns Historical Museum from February 1, 2024 to April 21, 2025 as part of a special exhibition titled “And Then Came Bronze!”

Swords and Arrows

Another ancient relic was found in Switzerland in 2019 by an amateur archaeologist and metal-detector enthusiast, Lucas Schmid. He discovered an ornate Roman dagger with a cross-shaped handle and exquisite brass and silver inlays and adornments, according to The Epoch Times. The dagger is believed to be around 2,000 years old.

Found at a depth of around 12 inches, the discovery was only made possible by the use of the metal detector, as Mr. Schmid searched the area on a hunch that a “lost” battle might have taken place in the area. The dagger is thought to be a remnant of a battle that took place centuries ago between the Romans and the Rhaetians, an Alpine tribe.

The discovery shed light on the region’s historical significance, and provided insights into ancient battles and warfare practices.

A team of archaeologists began exploring the region after the find, and they discovered hundreds more artifacts, determined to be the aftermath of an ancient battle, scattered across 370,000 square feet. The excavation unearthed Roman coins, lead slingshot “bullets,” arrowheads, spearheads, pieces of shields and other defensive implements, and hobnails from heavy-soled Roman sandals, called “caligae,” according to Live Science.

Michael Wing of The Epoch Times contributed to this report.

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