Humanity's Enduring Fascination With Meteorites — From Ancient Graves to Modern Auction Blocks
Rocks fallen from space have captivated our species for millennia.
High above our planet, chunks of metal swirl around the solar system in lonely orbits. Metallic asteroids number in the millions, but they're relatively quite rare—bits and pieces of lonely matter that never became planets. Occasionally, they find a home.
A tiny fraction of these dull, misshapen hunks of metal have rained onto our planet for millennia, sparking briefly alight as they kiss the atmosphere before biting deep into the planet's surface — if they aren't incinerated first.
An even smaller fraction make it to Earth and remain buried. Fewer still are brought to the surface by shovels, winches and ropes, or by the persistent combination of weather and time. And these cosmically rare finds can be valuable. A 1,400-pound chunk of meteorite was expected to fetch up to $1.2 million at auction at Christie's in 2016. Others listed during this year's sale stretched well into the five figures.