Traces of meteoric iron in the Villena Treasure

A study published in the journal Prehistory Works, indicates that two objects sampled from the Villena Treasure were smithed using meteoric iron.

The paper, titled: “Meteorite iron in the Villena Treasure?”, was conducted by researchers from the National Archaeological Museum, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (Saudi Arabia) and the CSIC Institute of History.

The Villena Treasure is one of the most important Bronze Age hoard finds in the Iberian Peninsula, discovered by José María Soler in 1963 in Villena, Spain. Archaeologists uncovered a collection of bowls, bottles, and bracelets, which were ornately crafted from gold, silver, iron and amber.

Iron was considered a precious metal before the advent of iron smelting, where meteoric iron was the only source of iron metal used to make jewellery, tools, and weapons during the Bronze Age.

- Advertisement -

Iron sourced from meteorites is generally composed of an iron-nickel alloy (Fe-Ni) with a variable nickel composition that is usually greater than 5% by weight.

The study conducted an analysis of two objects from the Villena Treasure made from iron. One is an iron bracelet, and the other is a small hollow semisphere adorned with an openwork sheet of gold, believed to be the upper part of a sceptre or staff.

Samples taken from the objects revealed that both pieces clearly indicate traces of iron and nickel, with visible peaks of Fe(Kÿ and Kÿ) and Ni(Kÿ and Kÿ).

Samples were then sent to Curt-Engelhorn-Centre of Archaeometry gGmbH to conduct a mass spectrometry study, revealing that the cap was most likely made from meteoric iron with a comparative reference to the global composition of the iron Mundrabilla meteorite that fell to the earth less than one million-years-ago.

According to the study authors: “The available data suggest that the cap and bracelet are the first two pieces attributable to meteoritic iron in the Iberian Peninsula, which is compatible with a chronology from the Late Bronze Age prior to the start of widespread terrestrial iron production.”

Villena Treasure – Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

- Advertisement -

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.

Ring discovery suggests a previously unknown princely family in Southwest Jutland

A ring discovered in Southwest Jutland, Denmark, suggests a previously unknown princely family who had strong connections with the rulers of France.

Submerged evidence of rice cultivation and slavery found in North Carolina

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) are using side-scan sonar and positioning systems to find evidence of rice cultivation and slavery beneath the depths of North Carolina’s lower Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers.

Study reveals oldest and longest example of Vasconic script

A new study of the 2100-year-old Hand of Irulegi has revealed the oldest and longest example of Vasconic script.

Archaeologists excavate the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä

Archaeologists have excavated the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä, a former Nazi barracks occupied by homeless Finns following the end of WW2.

Archaeologists find 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle

A team of archaeologists from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan have uncovered a 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle in the Guanyin District of Taoyuan City.

Traces of Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais found at foot of Mount Tabor

During excavations near Beit Keshet in Lower Galilee, Israel, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered traces of a market within the historic Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais.