How would a meteorite end up in this desert anyways? In a nutshell: Collisions of celestial bodies can release gigantic clouds of debris that might overcome the gravity of their parent body and start to float in different orbits around our central star. From time to time, these chunks of rock become attracted by other bodies in our solar system and get diverted from their initial course or captured by them. The large planets with thin atmospheres particularly are under frequent bombardment of these asteroid fragments.
Earth is a target as well. Day after day, thousands of meteoroids rain down on our world. Most of them are tiny specks of rocks that disintegrate completely and early during their entry. But about five to ten times a year, larger specimens are witnessed to fall onto the surface of Earth and fragments are recovered. Those who have had the fortune to experience the rare sight of a Meteorite fall, report spectacular sound and visual phenomena. Forked lightning out of the blue, whizzing sound as if hot metal had come in contact with water, smoke-trails, thunder and sonic booms are sights experienced by witnesses of meteorite falls. Some reports even include feeling electrostatic sensations or the pressure wave of sonic booms during these encounters.
Even for our desolate search area such a wittnessed fall is reported. At the afternoon, on August 21 in 1997, a fireball followed by a huge smoke trail and accompanied by a series of explosions terrified a seven year old Tuareg boy. He was tracking a stray goat in the Wadis at the foot of Mt. Tazerzait and found the rock in ist impact pit the following day. A sample of the strange body that fell out of the sky was later reported to scientists in Niamey and turned out as an ordinary chondrite, the most common type of meteorite. The boy and his brothers returned to the impact site with a hammer to break the large rock into transportable loads and retrieved another 110 kilos of material. The original mass, however, was supposed to have been considerably larger.
And we are lucky too this day. A small unimpressive pebble that Alhazan has picked up, not even 30 grams, turns out as a chondrite with a high ammount of iron. This time, we have found a meteorite. While searching the closer surrounding we make another discovery. Together with neolithic ceramic, silex blades and two grinding stones we find small lumps of iron ore. A natural occurrence of the iron at this location can be excluded. Remains of slag, abundant at the finding site, suggest that the iron ore was brought to this place to smelt it.
But apart from the coincidence, there is no direct link between the meteorite and the neolithical activity in the area. However, there is reason to believe that the late neolithic inhabitants of the Sahara collected meteoritic iron systematicly and that they also worked tools out of this extremely superior material. Archaeological finds from northern Europe, Persia and from ancient Egyptian tombs support this hypothesis. The hieroglyph used by the ancient Egypts to express the term “metal” can be translated as “iron that fell from the skies”. And the most prominent example for the pharaonic knowledge of extraterrestrial iron is a dagger made of meteoritic iron that Howard Carter discovered among the burial objects in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.