The mystery of procuring much-coveted iron before the Iron Age…


A depiction of a meteoric event from the Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, a 1552 German manuscript. Public domain


From our friends at Atlas Obscura,


Before the Iron Age, Most Iron Came From Space

New research is showing just how coveted meteoritic iron was in the Bronze Age.
by Vittoria Traverso


“Earth is not short of iron—the metal makes up much of our planet’s core and is the fourth most abundant element in the crust. But actually getting that iron out to use it—to make tools, for example—hasn’t always been a simple process. Most iron is packed away in ore, and you have to know how to smelt it to produce the metal, long prized for its strength and workability. Humans didn’t really master the process and produce iron at a large scale until around 1200 B.C. But once they did … well, the next period of human history is known as the Iron Age for a reason.


However, iron does appear in the archaeological record in the earlier Bronze Age. Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died in 1324 B.C., for example, was buried with an iron headrest, bracelet, and dagger. For a long time it was thought that some civilization somewhere had managed to smelt iron earlier, resulting in these coveted, precocious artifacts. But there is another way to get iron—one that is literally out of this world…”


For the rest, click here.