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1000-Year-Old Buddhist Statue Carved From Meteorite

Sep 27, 2012 08:24 AM EDT

A religious 1000-year-old Buddhist sculpture is found to be carved from a meteorite, revealed researchers.

The statue which depicts the Buddhist god of wealth or war, Vaisravana, was taken from Tibet by a Nazi team led by zoologist Ernst Schäfer in 1938 so as to study the roots of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's Aryan race.  

Dubbed as "Iron Man" for its rich iron content, the statue remained as part of a private collection in Munich, Germany for many years before it was auctioned in 2009 and used by investigator Elmar Buchner of Stuttgart University for further study.

Based on chemical analysis experts have now found that the sculpture, which is about 9.5 inches tall and 23.3 pounds in size, is shaped from rare meteorite known as ataxite that fell some 15,000 years ago after colliding with Earth. The meteorite is rich in iron and nickel, which explains the iron content in the statue, a report in Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.

"The statue was chiseled from an iron meteorite, from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago," Buchner, told AFP.

"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 said.

The statue bears a large swastika symbol on its back, which could have possibly triggered an interest in the Nazis. Its right palm is stretching and pointing downwards. While it is estimated that the statue is 1,000 years old and belongs to the pre-Buddhist Bon culture of the 11th century, the exact age of the statue and place of birth is not yet known.

"Its origins alone may value it at $20,000 (15,500 euros). However, if our estimation of its age is correct and it is nearly a thousand years old it could be invaluable," Buchner said.

The findings of the paper are published in the journal Metoritic sand Planetary Science.

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