Earliest evidence of a death and injury by a meteorite

O. Unsalan, A. Bayatlı, P. Jenniskens

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
First Published: 22 April 2020


“Our planet experiences falls of meteorites with different airburst and ground impact risk. Some of these meteors can survive after the atmospheric passage and fall into the ground. Although there are claims that people were hit and killed by meteorites in history, the historical records do not prove this fact so far. This issue might be due to the fact that either the manuscript was written in a language other than English or there is not enough interest in historical records. To the best of our knowledge, we show the first proof of an event ever that a meteorite hit and killed a man and left paralyzed another on August 22, 1888 in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, based on three manuscripts written in Ottoman Turkish that were extracted from the General Directorate of State Archives of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. This event was also reported to Abdul Hamid II (34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire) by the governor of Sulaymaniyah. These findings suggest other historical records may still exist that describe other events that caused death and injuries by meteorites.”