Gibeon Meteorite Pendant
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Above: Silver-Square Gibeon Meteorite Pendant in a display box with Specimen Card
Over the sky of prehistoric Namibia, a massive meteorite exploded, showering hot debris over a strewn field nearly 250 miles long. The meteorite, whose fall date is unknown, would eventually be named after a town near one of its collection sites: Gibeon.
Above: A slice of Gibeon exhibiting the classic Widmanstätten pattern.
This meteorite has been a marvel to humans since it was first found in ancient times. It was discovered by the Nama people, who crafted tools and weapons from the extraterrestrial metals. Before the Iron Age, meteorites were one of the few sources of natural iron metals that could be used by humans, making Gibeon an extremely valuable find.
This necklace features a fragment of the Gibeon meteorite set in sterling silver. The pendants are available in two different shapes (square and oval) with two different plating finishes (silver and gold).
Above: Close-up images of all four (4) styles of the Gibeon pendant.
All additional components of the necklace are sterling silver, including the 18" (45cm) box-style chain. The necklace comes with a handsome display/storage box and a small information card that also serves as the certificate of authenticity.
About the Gibeon Meteorite
"If a meteoric origin be attributed to all these a shower of iron must have fallen… we must of necessity conclude it to have arrived in a state of fusion and been scattered around by the assistance of the air or otherwise in a melted or at least softened state." ~ Sir John Herschel, astronomer.
Above: Maltahoehe - a 30 kg regmaglypted shield-shaped IVA iron meteorite from the Gibeon Meteorite fall. (Source: Svend Buhl, Meteorite Recon)
In 1836, on an expedition through the region, captain J.E. Alexander collected several specimens of the material from across the country. These samples were taken to London, where they were studied by polymath Sir John Herschel. He determined that the metals were indeed of extraterrestrial origin.
The extremely wide area of distribution of material led Herschel to posit that during atmospheric entry, the Gibeon meteorite experienced immense pressure and heat, causing it to break apart in an airburst and covering southern Africa with fragments of metal.
Radiogenic dating suggests the parent body that Gibeon was a part of formed over 4.4 billion years ago. The meteorite’s chemical makeup consists of an iron-nickel alloy with substantial amounts of cobalt and phosphorus. It is classified as an IVA meteorite and broke apart from its parent body around 400 million years ago. Its internal structure follows an octahedrite formation, which forms what is called a Widmanstätten pattern. This pattern is a lattice of overlapping iron-nickel alloys which form at different temperatures. Widmanstätten patterns are most often found in extraterrestrial metals due to the extremely slow cooling process required for them to form.
The sheer size of the strewn field makes tracking the total mass of the fall difficult. To date, there have been over 60 known fragments discovered that were a part of the original body, and over 57,000 pounds of material from the meteorite have been recovered.
Above: Sir John Herschel. Portrait photograph in The Norman Album by Julia Margaret Cameron. Compiled between 1864 and 1869.
Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), who identified the Gibeon meteorite’s extraterrestrial origins, was one of the more prolific scientists of his time. The son of astronomer William Herschel, Herschel developed an interest in the stars at a young age. At the age of 28, he became a founding member of the Royal Astronomical Society and performed extensive work in the field. He cataloged the night skies of the southern hemisphere, bringing valuable information back to England, named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus, the planet his father had discovered. Outside of astronomy, Herschel also made advancements in chemistry, botany, and photography.
In 1830, Herschel published A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, a landmark text in the philosophical understanding of scientific work. This book discussed the nature of observation, analysis, and theory and described the natural world as being built up by a series of laws to be understood. Herschel and his work would later become an inspiration to a then student, Charles Darwin.
Citron, R. "On the Distribution of the Gibeon Meteorites of South-West Africa." SAO Special Report #238, 1967.
Honda, M., Nagai, H., et. al. "Irradiation Histories of Iron Meteorites." Journal of the Physical Society of Japan, vol. 78, pp. 12-17, 2009.
Blichert-Toft, J., et al., "The early formation of the IVA iron meteorite parent body." Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 296, 2010, pp. 469-480.
Herschel, John. "Notice of a chemical examination of a specimen of native iron, from the east bank of the great fish river, in South Africa." The London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, vol. 14, 1839, pp. 32-34,.
Herschel, John. A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy. 1830.
Smoliar, Michael. Walker, Richard. Walker, John. "Re-Os Ages of Group IIA, IIIA, IVA, and IVB Iron Meteorites." Science, Vol. 271, Issue 5252, 1996 pp. 1099-1102.
Above: Back of the Specimen Card