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September 27, 2012

1,000-year old Buddhist statue made of meteorite found

Washington: Scientists have found that a 1,000-year-old ancient Buddhist statue, which was first recovered by a Nazi expedition in 1938, is carved from a meteorite. The findings reveal the priceless statue to be a rare ataxite class of meteorite. Known as the Iron Man, the statue weighs 10kg and is believed to represent a stylistic hybrid between the Buddhist and pre-Buddhist Bon culture that portrays the god Vaisravana, the Buddhist King of the North, also known as Jambhala in Tibet. The statue was discovered in 1938 by an expedition of German scientists led by renowned zoologist Ernst Schafer. The expedition was supported by Nazi SS Chief Heinrich Himmler and the entire expeditionary team were believed to have been SS members. The first team to study the origins of the statue was led by Dr Elmar Buchner from Stuttgart University . The team was able to classify it as an ataxite, a rare class of iron meteorite with high contents of nickel. “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,” said Dr Buchner. “While the first debris was officially discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, we believe that this individual meteorite fragment was collected many centuries before,” he noted. Dr Buchner's team believe the Iron Man originated from the Bon culture of the 11th Century. “The Iron Man statue is the only known illustration of a human figure to be carved into a meteorite, which means we have nothing to compare it to when assessing value,” he said. “Its origins alone may value it at 20,00 dollars; however, if our estimation of its age is correct and it is nearly a thousand years old it could be invaluable,” he added. The findings have been published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

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