DescriptionENSISHEIM - THE METEORITE THAT DISCOVERED EARTH IN 1492
Amphoterite - LL6
Alsace, France - (47° 52'N, 7° 21'E)
'In the year of Our Lord 1492, the Wednesday before the feast day of Saint-Martin, the seventh day of November, a strange miracle occurred. On that day, between the eleventh and the twelfth hour of noon, came a great thunder clap, then a long noise that was heard far around, then a stone fell from the air on the village of Ensisheim...'
Thus begins a 16th Century document describing one of the many newsworthy events of 1492. The record continues, 'It was surely a sign from God, such as had never been seen before, or read or written about. ' Indeed, the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites did not gain wide acceptance until 300 years later - and, as a result, the phenomenon of the Ensisheim event created a fair amount of commotion. Austria's Emperor Maximillian is said to have interpreted the fireball as a divine sign to declare war on France - a decision that turned out to be provident, as he acquired territory and reacquired his daughter (who had taken up with the French King). The stone itself was brought into the walled city and was tethered to a chain in a church (which still stands to this day) in an effort to prevent it from departing the same way it arrived. Ensisheim is the oldest preserved meteorite in Europe, as well as Europe's single largest stone meteorite. The partial slice offered here features Ensisheim's characteristic fine blue - gray brecciated matrix. 63 x 56 x 2mm (2.50 x 2.25 x 0.1 inches) and 15.40 grams.
Provenance: British Museum of Natural History, London; The Macovich Collection, New York City
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