Yesterday's Myths & Mysteries

Ancient Buddhist ‘Iron Man’ Statue Was Carved From Meteorite

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart in Germany have discovered that a Buddhist statue, first located by the Nazis in 1938, was carved from ataxite, a type of rare, nickel-rich iron meteorite.

Known as the “Iron Man” statue, it is believed to portray the god Vaiśravaṇa, or Namtösé in Tibet, and was likely created in the Bon culture of the 11th century, although this is only speculation.

The ataxite itself likely originated from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite, which fell to Earth 15,000 years ago.

“Nazis. I hate these guys.”

The tale is not unlike something you’d find in Indiana Jones: The statue was recovered during the Nazi expedition to Tibet in 1938-1939, led by zoologist Ernst Schafer. In Tibet, they sought the so-called origin of their race. This was a mystical location they believed served as the home of a race of immortal super humans, perhaps Agartha or Shambhala, or what the Nazis called Thule or Hyperborea.

The statue bears a swastika upon its chest. This is, I imagine, unrelated to the Nazi swastika, as the symbol is found in many Indian religions, far predating them. It may, however, have been what led the Nazis to take an interest in the statue.

Much of ancient Tibetan Buddhism is tied to the stars. The Cintamani Stone, if you remember, is said to have originated in the Sirius star system, brought to Earth by extraterrestrials. It, too, was probably a meteorite.

After being found, the Iron Man statue was tucked away in Munich in a private collection, and was only made available for study in 2009.  Dr. Elmar Buchner of Stuttgart University led the analysis of the statue, discovering its meteorite nature.

“The statue was chiseled from an iron meteorite,” he said, “from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago.”

The scientists’ findings were published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. For nearly 10 years, he's managed Stranger Dimensions, providing a unique perspective on all matters involving time travel, parallel universes, and whether or not robots might one day take over the world.

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