Depicting Vaisravana, the Buddhist god of wealth or war, the sculpture was carved from an ataxite, a rare class of iron meteorite with high contents of nickel.
“The statue was chiseled from an iron meteorite, from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15.000 years ago,” said Elmar Buchner of the University of Stuttgart.
In a paper published in Metoritics and Planetary Science, Buchner and colleagues reported their geochemical analysis and the story of the “Buddha from Space,” which almost reads like an Indiana Jones movie.
Known as the Iron Man, the 9.5-inch-high statue was discovered in 1938 by an expedition backed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler and led by zoologist Ernst SchÃ¤fer. The expedition roamed Tibet to search for the roots of Aryanism.
It is unknown how the sculpture was unearthed, but it is believed that a large swastika carved into the center of the figure may have encouraged the team to take it back to Germany.
Once it arrived in Germany, the Iron Man became part of a private collection and it wasn’t until 2009 that cientists could study it, following an auction.