A 24-inch iron statue bearing a reverse swastika and dubbed "Iron Man" was discovered by Nazi archaeologists in Mongolia in 1939 on a quest to document the origins of Aryanism and returned to Germany. The reason for recent attention to the provenance of the statue of the Buddhist god Vaisravana is supplied by Dr. Elmar Buchner and his research team from the Institute of Paleontology at the University of Stuttgart who suspect that it came from a meteorite. As described in a 2012 volume of Meteoritics and Planetary Science, the "Buddha from space" was chemically analyzed and found to include the same amounts of iron, nickel, cobalt, and chromium as other iron meteorites and is believed to be part of an ataxite, the rarest class of iron meteorite. "The statue was chiseled from....a fragment of the Chinga meteorite, which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago," according to Dr. Buchner. Iron Man, believed to be nearly 1,000 years old and the only illustration of a human figure to be carved into a meteorite, is considered to be invaluable.
The ancient Egyptians were no less hip than the Buddhists to the ornamental use of meteorites. The March 29, 2013 issue of the same journal reports the analysis by modern methods of a bead from the 3300 BCE prehistoric cemetery in Gerzeh, 70 km south of Cairo.
Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, along with Diane Johnson, a meteorite scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, used scanning electron microscopy and X-ray computer tomography on the cylindrical bead, which was originally found in 1911, in order to determine its structure and composition and pinpoint its origins as either terrestrial or meteoritic.
The bead, which predates any other artifact recorded in Egyptian history, is 30% nickel, indicating non-terrestrial origins, and was made by hammering the meteor fragment into a thin plate, and bending it into a tube. Ancient text references to iron and meteorites after 1300 BCE include the term "iron from the sky", referring to all types of iron. This "new" expression may have caught on as a result of a meteor shower, such as the one that formed the large Gebel Kamil crater in southern Egypt. Iron was strongly associated with royalty, power, and godliness, inspired possibly by its connection with meteorites.
Chinga Meteorite fragment photo by H. Raab, Creative Commons License.