An Ancient Tribe’s Metal From Outer Space

“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.” —Douglas Adams

In a Nutshell

While Sir John Ross was exploring the arctic in 1818 he happened upon an Inughuit tribe in Greenland. Curiously, the tribe, despite believing themselves to be the only people on Earth and having no ability to mine or even smelt metal, were in possession of iron tools.

It was later discovered the Inughuit had found several meteorites and that they were the source of their iron. They had literally been eating and hunting with metal sent from space itself.

The Whole Bushel

The Arctic is virtually devoid of any mineral deposits, and mining there is almost impossible (even with modern technology). So imagine the surprise Sir John Ross felt when he discovered a tribe of Inughuit people in Greenland and found that they were using iron tools.

The Inughuit whom Ross met genuinely believed themselves to be the only people on Earth and had no visible means of extracting what little metal was in the ground—yet they were eating and hunting with iron implements. This obviously caused a great deal of confusion since the explorers knew of no physical way for the Inughuit to be in possession of such devices.

When quizzed about this by a later explorer named Robert Peary, the Inughuit explained that their tools were sent from the gods. When asked to explain further, the Inughuits took Peary to the site of several meteorites that had crashed to Earth millions of years ago, which they had affectionately named “Woman,” “Dog,” and “Tent” according to their appearance.

Noting that the meteorites were of tremendous importance in terms of both physical and spiritual value to the Inughuit people, Peary heroically took them and put them on display in the American Museum of Natural History where they continue to be displayed to this day.

The tools the Inughuit constructed varied from simple knives to harpoons—pretty impressive considering that they could only chip off chunks of metal and realistically had no real way of shaping or altering the metal after that.

The meteorites themselves were believed to be the remains of a small planet that had collided with the Earth many millions of years ago—more specifically, the center of a small planet, which would explain the meteorites’ high iron content.

Show Me The Proof

Lance with a blade made from meteoric iron
Ninety Degrees North: The Quest For The North Pole

  • Hillyard

    Noting that the meteorites were of tremendous importance to the Inghuit people Peary heroically took them… typical WASP famous explorer kind of thing to do. I wonder how many items in museums around Europe, Great Britain and the US are filled with what can only be described as looted material.

    • gillybean

      Too true, kind of government sanctioned theft. Can the museums be made to give things back?

      • Hillyard

        The Greeks have been trying to get their marble statues back from Great Britain for decades. No hope in sight.

        • gillybean

          You know, when I was a kid, I used to think museums and all contained therein were something to be proud of. The older I get the more I learn that actually they’re glorified stash-houses. (Not including Manchester Museum of Science and Industry in that statement, that place rocks and they stole nothing.)

        • Adeel

          Lot of people are trying to get a lot of things from Great Britain. No hope in sight.

  • TheUnknownTruth

    I agree with Hillyard tribal societies and any third world type groups are swindled into giving up their ancient artifacts to be displayed in Fancy museums that charge people to see them. The Inghuit gave up some priceless meteorite tools that probably took them hundreds of hours to construct while the Scientist hands them a Hershey Chocolate Bar and a Thank you in their native tongue.

    • anonymouse72

      And I don’t get a Hershey chocolate bar or a thank you.

  • Phil_42

    I have a suspicion that J Frater is a bit of a ‘Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy’ fan.

    • Hillyard

      The best of us are.

  • anonymouse72

    Wow, if we could somehow get more from the sky.

  • rhijulbec

    Very interesting. I agree with gillybean. Seems the acquisition of those precious displays are all too often the result of swindlers in the name of (add country name here) or outright theft. That’s too bad.

  • Jack Shen

    “Realizing the importance.”
    he took their only source of metal from them, for display ?????