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Space & Astronomy

Earliest case of 'death by meteorite' revealed

By T.K. Randall
April 29, 2020 · Comment icon 13 comments

You wouldn't want to be hit by one of these. Image Credit: YouTube / Central Michigan University
Researchers have discovered official records stating that a man in Iraq was killed by a meteorite back in 1888.
When it comes to unlikely ways to die, being hit by a falling meteorite must come close to the top of the list; one study published in 2014 concluded that the chances of being killed by a meteorite are around 1 in 1,600,000 - meaning that you are more than twice as likely to be struck by lightning.

According to recently unearthed records from the Turkish state archives however, such an unlikely demise actually did befall one extremely unfortunate individual over 130 years ago.

The documents describe how a meteorite fell to Earth on August 22nd, 1888 and smacked into the side of a hill in what is now modern day Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

One man was struck and killed, while a second was also severely injured and ended up paralyzed.
The records indicate that the lethal space rock was one of several to have fallen within a ten-minute period and that witnesses in a nearby city had also seen a 'fireball' hurtling down from the sky.

The event was even said to have been reported to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire - Abdul Hamid II.

While the researchers are still seeking additional documents pertaining to the incident, it is believed that this is the earliest known record of a person being struck and killed by a meteorite.

"Almost every single event was recorded in the archives," lead author Ozan Unsalan from Istanbul University told "I mean, if you sneeze, it was recorded somehow."

Source: | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
Color me skeptical, but the lack of physical evidence makes me doubtful. A few written accounts from 132 years ago are not convincing enough to declare with confidence that this is the first record. To me it sounds like a lot of other extraordinary claims that were common at the time.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
And what physical evidence do you expect from 1888? If you are rejecting written evidence then you are rejecting most of the sum of human knowledge.  Turkey, in 1888, was not some little backward state, it was part of the Ottoman Empire.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
Pieces of the meteorite or skeletal remains of the victim would be a start. An extraordinarily unlikely event like this requires extraordinary evidence to confirm. Considering how many fake meteor stories circulated around the US during the late 1800's, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened in Turkey.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
The Ottomans were pretty straightforward compared to the U.S. newspapers of the same time period and it happened in Iraq.  I would like to see the actual dated documents though. The Ottomans used a distinct alphabet currently not in use, which very few can read. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
There are photos of the documents in the paper.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
I'm not a member and since prison, no longer have institution access.   
Comment icon #10 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
I'll PM you a pdf.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I know this isn't directly related to the topic, but I really hate it when papers are behind a  paywall. Entertainment I can understand...But educational materials should be freely available to anyone who wants to read them. This is the kind of thing, like public libraries, governments should just fund with all of our taxes.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
Same here, I'm an advocate for open-access. Sci-hub is a good tool to use to crack the paywalls.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
knowledge is powaaaa !! like money this days..  

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