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Artifact-in-impactite: a new kind of impact rock. Evidence from the Chiemgau meteorite impact in southeast Germany

  • Institute for Interdisciplinary Science, Gilching


A hitherto worldwide unique evidence of a new type of impactite contains particles of metallic bronze and iron artefacts in a strongly shocked polymictic impact breccia from an archaeological excavation in the crater strewn field of the Chiemgau impact, dating the impact to relatively precise 900-600 BC.
X. Минералогия астроблем и метеоритов
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B. A., Rappenglück, M. A., Veligzhanin, A. A., Ernstson,
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Artifact-in-impactite: a new kind of impact rock.
Evidence from the Chiemgau meteorite impact in southeast Germany
B. Rappenglück1, M. Hiltl2, K. Ernstson3
1Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, D82205 Gilching, Germany;
2Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH, D73447 Oberkochen;
3University of Würzburg, 97074 Würzburg, Germany;
The Chiemgau impact (Fig. 1) as a meanwhile
established Holocene impact event has featured
quite a few exceptional observations in the last 15
years, which are summarized in [1, and referenc
es therein]. From the beginning of research it was
clear that a huge catastrophe in the Bronze Age or
Celtic era must have already affected densely pop
ulated regions, and in a routine archeological ex
cavation at Lake Chiemsee the worldwide unique
constellation was encountered that an impact ca
tastrophe layer was excavated sandwiched be
tween settlement layers of the Stone Age/Bronze
Age and the Roman Period (Fig. 1, 2) [2]. Among
the finds of ceramics, stone tools, bones and metal
artefacts also featured externally rather unsight
ly lumps, which were found by use of metal de
tectors and were addressed as «slag» by the ex
cavator. Here we report on specifically conducted
mineralogicalgeochemical investigations on 16
«slag» samples which have led to very remarkable
Fig. 2. Inventory of the Stöttham archeological site (from left to right): diamictite of the catastrophic layer; archeological
finds; carbon, metallic and glass spherules; strongly corroded and fractured cobbles, metalrich «slag»
Fig. 1. Location map for the Stöttham archeological excavation (B) in the Chiemgau impact crater strewn field
Modern Problems of Theoretical, Experimental, and Applied Mineralogy (Yushkin
Readings — 2020) - Proceedings of Russian conference with international participation
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Юшкинские чтения — 2020
Fig. 3. Cut faces (to the left) and scanned images of corresponding thin sections accenting the shredded iron metallic par
ticles as parts of the polymictic impact breccia. p = pottery shard merging into vesicular fusion. Rightmost: EDS spectrum
of an iron particle (a nail fragment?). Apart from a little carbon Fe is the only element
Fig. 5. «Slag» containing high leaded bronze fragments and mottled matter, and possibly Sn bronze
Fig. 4. Shock metamorphism in polymictic «slag» breccias. Photomicrographs
Material and analyses
On preparation of the «slags» by cutting and
thinsection analyses with the polarizing micro
scope (Fig. 2), the «slags» turned out to be poly
mictic breccias with all signs of an impact melt rock
with vesicular remnants of alpine Quaternary cob
bles of the region mixed with multicolored rock
fragments and abundant glass (Fig. 3). As a notice
able portion, partially shredded metal particles in
terpenetrate the breccia, which the metal detector
had obviously classified as slag (Fig. 3). As already
demonstrated earlier in the diamictite of the catas
trophe layer [2], the «slag» breccias contain abun
dant shock effects, here with greater density and in
tensity (Fig. 4).
The most remarkable observation in the «slag»
proved to be bronze fragments, which according
to SEMEDS analyses are an unusual high leaded
bronze (Fig. 5), which according to EDS penetrates
the breccia also in fine and finest particles (Fig. 5). In
addition to probable normal tin bronze (Fig. 5), iron
particles (Fig. 3) are particularly noticeable, which
according to EDS consist only of iron without any
other element apart from very little carbon (Fig. 3),
a composition indicating iron in some processed
The new investigations demonstrate once
more impressively that the Stöttham archeological
site had been involved in a meteorite impact
invent, the Chiemgau impact. The original
finding of a meteorite impact layer between two
archeological horizons was to be classified as
unique worldwide. From the point of view of both
archeology and impact research, the new analyses
have put the crown on it by revealing human
objects and impact shock intimately intertwined
in the same samples a worldwide novelty
defining an artifactinimpactite as a new kind of
impact rock. A more exact dating of the Chiemgau
impact, based on the metallic components, is a
significant side effect of these unusual samples
X. Минералогия астроблем и метеоритов
and their investigation, scheduling the impact
event between 900 and 600 BC [3].
1. Rappenglück, M. A., Rappenglück, B.,
Ernstson. K. Cosmic collision in prehistory. — The
Chiemgau Impact: research in a Bavarian meteor
ite crater strewn field (in German) // Zeitschrift für
Anomalistik. 2017. V 17. P. 235—260.
2. Ernstson, K., Sideris, C., Liritzis, I., Neumair,
A. The Chiemgau meteorite impact signature of the
Stöttham archaeological site (Southeast Germany)
// Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.
2012. V. 12. P. 249—259.
3. Rappenglück, B., Hiltl, M., Rappenglück,
M., Ernstson, K. The Chiemgau Impact — a mete
orite impact in the Bronze/Iron Age and its ex
traordinary appearance in the archaeological re
cord. In: Wolfschmidt, G. (ed.) Himmelswelten
und Kosmovisionen Imaginationen, Modelle,
Weltanschauungen. Nuncius Hamburgensis.
Beiträge zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften
51, Hamburg: tredition. 2020 (in print). P. xxxx.
... t al. 2011;Isaenko et al. 2012;Shumilova et al. 2012;Rappenglück et al. 2013;Bauer et al. 2013;Neumair and Ernstson 2013;Rappenglück et al. 2014;Ernstson et al. 2014;Ernstson 2012Ernstson , 2016Ernstson and Poßekel 2017;Rappenglück et al. 2017;Shumilova et al. 2018;Poßekel and Ernstson 2019;Bauer et al. 2019;Bauer et al. 2020;Ernstson et al. 2020a;B. Rappenglück et al. 2020;Poßekel and Ernstson 2020;Ernstson et al. 2020b;Rappenglück et al. 2021), be described as probably the most important terrestrial impact crater strewn field at present, leaving the Wyoming strewn field now described far behind in scientific importance. This great Chiemgau impact is not mentioned with a word in the Kenkmann et al. article ...
... Physical and archeological dating confines the impact event to have happened between 900 and 600 B.C. Liritzis et al. 2010, B. Rappenglück et al. 2020, 2021. The impactor is suggested to have been a roughly 1,000 m sized low-density disintegrated, loosely bound asteroid or a disintegrated comet in order to account for the extensive strewn field , Rappenglück et al. 2017. ...
Full-text available
Secondary craters in impacts on moon, planets and their moons are a well known phenomenon, which has been investigated many times. In the article commented by us here, the authors report on a crater strewn field in the American state of Wyoming, which is interpreted as a field of secondary craters of a so far unknown larger primary impact structure and as a first on Earth. We compare the Wyoming crater strewn field with the Chiemgau impact crater strewn field in SE Germany and find that both have nearly identical characteristics of virtually all relevant features, in terms of geometries and petrography. We conclude that the alleged Wyoming secondary crater field is a fiction and the craters attributable to a primary impact. The alleged evidence is very poor to easily refuted. A primary crater does not exist to this day. The negative free-air gravity anomaly referred to, but not even shown, is invalid for this purpose. The Bouguer gravity map shows no indication of a possible large impact structure. Also unsuitable is the use of asymmetries with elongations of assumed secondary craters with a very questionable corridor intersection for the ejecta. Of 31 craters surveyed as proven, 15 are circular (eccentricity 1) and more than half (19) have an eccentricity ≤1.2. Circular and elongated craters are intermixed. The evaluated crater axes may just as well originate in a multiple primary impact. Elongated craters may also result from doublets of overlapping craters that are no longer fresh, as described by the authors themselves. In their paper, the authors do not show a Digital Terrain Model with contour lines for any of the surveyed craters, but only aerial photos blurred by vegetation. A verification of the crater measurements with the deduced eccentricities and strike directions is impossible. Not a single topographic profile over even a single crater in the strewn field is shown, either from DTM data or from an optical leveling, which could have been accomplished in an instant given the relatively small craters. Grave is the misconception that such a large crater field of 90 km length with three separate clusters is not possible according to 20 years old model calculations. A primary impact with multiple projectiles could perhaps be conceivable under rare circumstances, which are described by the authors as not relevant. The alleged impossibility of such a large primary strewn field with referring to the known small impact fields of Morasko, Odessa, Wabar, Henbury, Sikhote Alin, Kaalijärv, and Macha is contradicted by the three larger impact strewn fields of Campo del Cielo, Bajada del Diablo (very likely), and Chiemgau, which are best described in the literature but are not mentioned by Kenkmann et al. with a single word. The comparison of the Wyoming strewn field with the Chiemgau impact crater strewn field of about the same size here in the commentary article proves the scientifically clearly much greater significance of the Chiemgau impact, which must be considered as currently the largest and most significant Holocene impact despite the rejection and ignoring in some parts of the so-called impact community.
Full-text available
We use Schmieder and Kring's article to show how science still works within the so-called "impact community" and how scienti c data are manipulated and "rubber-stamped" by reviewers (here, e.g., C. Koeberl and G. Osinski). We accuse the authors of continuing to list the Azuara and Rubielos de la Cérida impact structures and one of the world's most prominent ejecta occurrences of the Pelarda Fm. in Spain 1 2 as non-existent in the compilation. The same applies to the spectacular Chiemgau impact in Germany, which has been proven by all impact criteria for several years. For the authors' dating list, we propose that the multiple impact of Azuara is included together with the crater chain of the Rubielos de la Cérida impact basin as a dated candidate for the third, so far undated impact markers in the Massignano outcrop in Italy.
Full-text available
In English: “Chiemgau Impact” is an event which took place in the Bronze Age / Iron Age with the creation of a large meteorite strewn field by the impact of a comet / asteroid in southeast Bavaria. The research is interdisciplinary from the outset. It covers, among other things, geology, geophysics, limnology, archaeology, mineralogy, speleology, astronomy, and historical sciences. The research results show that a major disaster must have taken place in the area between Altötting, the Lake Chiemsee, and the Alps. Finds of exotic material, found only in meteorites, extremely stressed and altered rocks, caused by extreme pressures, high temperatures and the action of acid, strange carbon spherules, glass-like carbon, nanodiamonds, magnetic anomalies, soil compaction, sinkholes, and many other abnormalities can be explained by the hypothesis of a post-ice impact. All the impact criteria required according to scientifc standards were demonstrated. The impact associated with a large air blast may have produced considerable regional and probably transregional effects. People not only from the Chiemgau region were witnesses of the fascinating, shocking and disturbing event. Perhaps quite accurate descriptions of the event and the regional effects were even described in the ancient Greek myth of the young racer Phaeton, driving the solar chariot. Te paper presents the current (2017) state of knowledge and briefly also the research history.
Full-text available
Archaeological excavation at Chieming-Stöttham in the Chiemgau region of Southeast Germany revealed a diamictic (breccia) layer sandwiched between a Neolithic and a Roman occupation layer. This exotic layer bears evidence of its deposition in a catastrophic event that is attributed to the Chiemgau meteorite impact. In the extended crater strewn field produced by the impact, geological excavations have uncovered comparable horizons with an anomalous geological inventory intermixed with archaeological material. Evidences of extreme destruction, temperatures and pressures including impact shock effects suggest that the current views on its being an undisturbed colluvial depositional sequence as postulated by archaeologists and pedologists/geomorphologists is untenable
Conference Paper
The largest meteorite impact of the Holocene known to date occurred during the Bronze/Iron Age in southeastern Bavaria, between Altötting and the edge of the Alps. The event is known as the "Chiemgau Impact". More than 100 craters with diameters from 5 m up to several hundred meters are distributed over an area of about 60 km length and 30 km width. Finds of meteoric material confirm the event as well as the widespread evidence of so-called shock metamorphosis in the rock. The article focuses on new investigations of "slags" from an archaeological excavation in Chieming-Stöttham, on the eastern shore of Lake Chieming. Six objects analysed with polarisation microscope and SEM-EDS turned out to be complex combinations of rock and metal particles. While the rock components show the shock metamorphosis typical for a meteorite impact, the metallic components proved to be remnants of artefacts made of bronze or iron with a high lead content. Together they form an impact rock. To our knowledge, these are the first examples worldwide in which artefacts have become components of an impact rock. In addition, the special nature of the metallic components and the consideration of the archaeological context allow the more precise dating of the Chiemgau Impact to approximately 900-600 BC.