Annals of Quirkiness: Space Buddha Taken By Nazis.
Ancient Egyptians made necklaces from meteorites, the Inuit used these extra-terrestrial rocks as an iron source but this is the world’s first space Buddha.
Researchers in Germany led by Elmar Buchner are reporting that a sculpture of the Buddhist god Vaiśravana was carved out of a meteorite fragment that fell to Earth near the border of Siberia and Mongolia between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.
It’s the first known example of a religious sculpture carved from a meteorite, said the researchers to the Newscientist’s Colin Barras, who wrote the best of many news stories on the discovery (IMHO).
And that’s not all: The 24-centimeter tall statue “had a colourful past. It was apparently brought to Germany in 1939 by a Nazi-backed archaeological expedition to search for the roots of Aryanism. A swastika on the armoured Buddha's breastplate may have been a motivating factor in bringing the statue to Germany,” writes Barras.
Buchner and his team proved the statue was made from a meteorite by comparing the relative levels of iron, nickel, cobalt, chromium, gallium and germanium to these elements in pieces of the Chinga ataxite meteorite.
(Incidentally, the Chinga meteorite’s 250 odd fragments were discovered in 1913 at Tanna-Tuva, which has gorgeous stamps and is now a quirky autonomous nation between Russia and Mongolia run by a former sports instructor named Sholban Kara-ool.¬)
But I digress. The only thing that could make this Nazi-seized, space Buddha discovery better is if it becomes the basis for a sequel to Iron Sky, the awesomely terrible (and by this I mean campy great) movie about Nazis on the moon.
This sculpture was carved from a meteorite that fell to Earth 10,000-20,000 years ago. Credit: Wiley