Researchers Discover First-Ever Evidence Of Anyone Being Killed By Falling Meteorite

by : Emily Brown on : 24 Apr 2020 12:33
Researchers Discover First-Ever Evidence Of Anyone Being Killed By Falling MeteoriteNASA/Robert P. Moreno Jr

For the first time in history, researchers believe they have discovered evidence of someone being killed by a falling meteorite. 

It’s thought that millions of meteors hit the atmosphere every day, but not many of them succeed in actually entering the atmosphere and striking Earth.


Since 1988, NASA has detected 822 fireballs that have been big enough to explode in the atmosphere and cause meteorite debris to rain down on our planet.

Meteor craterPixabay

Though the amount of debris that actually makes it to Earth is a fraction of the number of meteors that hit our atmosphere, it’s still enough to make scientists assume that at least some of the falling rocks would have caused fatalities among humankind. However, there has previously been a lack of any reliable historical records confirming this.

In a paper published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, researchers describe how they discovered three manuscripts, written in Ottoman Turkish, that were extracted from the General Directorate of State Archives of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey.


The documents were only recently transferred to a digital archive and translated, which is why they had not been uncovered before, Science Alert reports.


The manuscripts were written by local authorities and addressed the government, explaining that in August 1888, at about 8.30pm local time, a large fireball was seen in the sky.

After the fireball was spotted, meteorites fell ‘like rain’ from the sky over a small village in what is now Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, for a period of about 10 minutes. The falling debris resulted in the death of one unnamed man, and the paralytic injury of another.


Local authorities also noted damage to crops, which is consistent with a fireball shockwave.


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According to the reports, there was also a rock to corroborate the story, though researchers failed to find it. However, the three separate documents describing the incident are considered extremely convincing.

The researchers explain:


This event is the first report ever that states a meteor impact killed a man… with the support of three written manuscripts that report an event in such detail up to our knowledge.

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.


Based on the location of the village where the fireball was spotted, the researchers believe the meteorite travelled from the southeast before its pieces impacted on a hill in Sulaymaniyah.

The team plan to continue searching the archives for more references to the event.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Science, Iraq, NASA, Space, Turkey


Meteoritics & Planetary Science. and 2 others
  1. Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

    Earliest evidence of a death and injury by a meteorite

  2. NASA


  3. Science Alert

    We Have The First-Ever Credible Evidence of Someone Killed by a Falling Meteorite