Treasure of Villena houses 3,000-year-old 'beyond planet Earth' metals
A gold-coated cap and bracelet include foreign material from a meteor that crashed into Earth one million years ago.
Scientists performed a new analysis on the Treasure of Villena, a group of 59 gold-plated objects found in 1963, and discovered two objects that featured "alien metals" identified as meteoric iron from 3,000 years ago.
Meteoric iron is an early-universe protoplanetary disk remnant from meteorites made of iron and nickel.
According to the research team, a gold-coated cap and bracelet include foreign material from a meteor that crashed into Earth one million years ago. They elaborated that meteorite iron is present in specific types of stony meteorites formed mainly of silicates, a salt made of silicon and oxygen.
They wrote, "Since they come from outer space, are composed of an iron-nickel alloy with a variable nickel composition greater than five percent by weight," adding "They also contain other minor and trace chemical elements, cobalt being one of the most significant."
The Treasure of Villena
The Treasure of Villena was discovered on the Iberian Peninsula, allowing for a peek into an era when people shifted from stone to bronze. However, it appeared that this trove was not exclusive to a single royal family but probably belonged to an entire community.
About 90 percent of the collection including eleven bowls, three bottles, and 28 bracelets and was made up of 23.5-carat gold.
Archaeologist José Maria Soler discovered the artifacts in December 1963 as he and his team were excavating the 'Rambla del Panadero' dry river located about seven miles away from Villena. Since then, the treasures have been placed in the city's Museum of Archaeology, which paved the way for the analysis discovering the foreign metals.
The team of Spanish and Saudi Arabian scientists measured the molecules in each of the pieces, watching for traces of iron-nickel alloy.
Researchers discovered 5.5 percent of meteoric iron in a cap and another 2.8 percent in a bracelet.
Study senior author Ignacio Montero Ruiz, a researcher at Spain's Institute of History, informed Live Science that "the iron technology is completely different to the copper-based metallurgy and to the noble metals (gold and silver)," adding, "So, people who started to work with meteoritic iron and later with terrestrial iron must [have had to] innovate and develop new technology."
He further stated, "However, the levels of nickel in terrestrial iron are generally low or very low and frequently not detectable in analysis."
An alien blade
A similar artifact was previously discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun as fallen meteorites were used thousands of years ago to fashion objects.
In 2016, researchers at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Milan Polytechnic, and Pisa University revealed a dagger, intricately decorated and encased within a golden sheath, having a blade formed of iron from a meteorite. It is one of the most unique items retrieved from Tutankhamun's tomb, found within his sarcophagus, as a result of its immaculate metalwork. Its handle was embossed in gold with a crystal pommel, and the sheath was decorated with a floral motif, feather patterns, and a jackal's head.
Back then, they followed a similar technique to examine the composition of the metal, matching it to a meteorite named Kharga, which was discovered in 2000 on the Maras Matruh plateau in Egypt, 150 miles west of Alexandria.