If you can’t remember the last time you heard about somebody somewhere getting killed by a falling meteorite, that’s because it never happens. Literally. Although now, a team of researchers is saying that it has found credible evidence of at least one person in history dying from a falling meteorite. And it happened in the late 19th century in Turkey.
Science Alert reported on the finding, which was described in a recent paper published in the journal, Meteoritics & Planetary Science. According to the paper, from author Ozan Unsalan at Ege University et al.; “Although there are claims that people were hit and killed by meteorites in history, the historical records do not prove this fact so far”. The paper goes on to note that “To the best of our knowledge, we show the first proof of an event ever that a meteorite hit and killed a man….”
The winner of a terrible lottery? Apparently, a falling meteorite struck and killed a man (and left another paralysed) in Iraq in 1888. Earliest recorded death by falling space rock. Damn. Cool paper by @UnsalanOzan and colleagues 💫💀 pic.twitter.com/WQcDFml5id— Dr Tim Gregory (@TimCosmos) April 28, 2020
The deadly event, discovered in the Turkish Cultural Foundation’s General Directorate of State Archives, occurred on August 22, 1888 in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. According to the researchers, this particular record of a meteorite killing someone is valid. Because they found records in three separate manuscripts. (The records are in Ottoman Turkish, which is part of the reason this record is so esoteric). The governor of Sulaymaniyah also reported it to Abdul Hamid II (the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire) .
The authors of the paper say that “Due to the fact that these documents are from official government sources and written by the local authorities, even grand vizier himself as well, we do not have any suspicion on their reality.”
The location of the claimed death by meteorite. Google Maps
There have been other apparent instances of meteorite murder. However, the researchers say that they can’t consider any of those credible. Why? Simply because there is a lack of evidence to support the claims. For example, there were reports of a meteorite killing a man in India in 2016; NASA came forward and said the evidence did not support that conclusion. There was, however, a confirmed incident in November, 1954 in the U.S.; a grapefruit-sized meteorite struck a woman named Ann Hodges in Alabama. Hodges, however, did not die from the strike.
Ann Hodges is the only confirmed person in history who has ever been hit by a meteorite. pic.twitter.com/5cw6Itxyl8— What The F*** Facts (@WhatTheFFacts) April 2, 2014
Looking forward, the researchers behind the paper say they want to continue combing through the archives in the General Directorate in order to find more evidence supporting this death-by-meteorite claim. They also say that this kind of rare finding stands as a good reason for researchers to ramp up investigation into historical documents recorded in languages other than English.
What do you think about this evidence of the first-ever death by meteorite? Do you think these newly deciphered documents are sufficient to confirm this account as valid, or do we need more concrete proof? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Feature image: Mike Lewinski