Ancient Arrowhead Made of Meteorite Material Found in Switzerland, Mystifying Archaeologists

An arrowhead likely comprised of material from a meteorite was discovered in Switzerland by a team of archaeologists and geologists, according to a study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The team determined that the arrowhead was made of an iron-nickel-aluminium alloy using electron-microscope images, X-rays, and high-energy radiation analysis. The results were then compared with other known meteorite samples.

A bracelet and an ax head from Poland are the only two known archaeological artifacts in central and western Europe made from meteorite material.

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Switzerland has yielded archaeological treasures at Mörigen, a late Bronze Age pile-dwelling that once sat along the shores of a lake. A series of arrowheads made of bronze were discovered at the Swiss archeological site of Mörigen more than 100 years ago, and while there have previously never been any meteorite-related finds, it is known that there was a meteorite fall nearby the site.

The Twannberg iron meteorite is the largest found one known to have reached Switzerland. It split into three fragments that may have been discovered in prehistoric times and used by those at Mörigen to construct the arrowhead.

Chemical evidence suggests that the Twannberg meteorite was not used to make this particular arrowhead, however.

Having ruled out the Twannberg meteorite, the team widened their search, observing that the nickel and germanium concentrations in the Mörigen arrowhead share similarities with the Estonian Kaalijarv meteorite, which fell roughly 3,500 years ago during the Bronze Age and produced a number of small fragments. Even though Estonia is near the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, researchers believe the arrowhead is more likely connected to this meteorite based on similar properties.

Though the team is searching for more artifacts of the same origin to further their study, this meteorite arrowhead could point to a larger network linking Switzerland and Estonia for the trade of such commodities as amber, silex stones, and iron meteorites.

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