ATHENS – The only known meteorite object to crash on Greek soil, over two centuries ago, was on display on Thursday at an Athenian museum on loan from Austria’s Natural History Museum.
Athen’s Heraklion Museum is to host a large fragment of the nine-kilogram (20-pound) space rock which violently terminated its spatial wanderlust in June 1818 after being captured by Earth’s gravitational field and falling near the town of Serres in northern Greece, although little else is known on its impact point and recovery.
The Serres (or Serrai) meteorite is classified as a stone mineralogically composed of ordinary chondrite.
It is estimated to be 4.55 billion years, making it as old as our solar system.
Upon its discovery, two fragments of this meteorite were handed over to the regional governor of Serres, Pasha Yussuf, (Greece back then remained under Ottoman Empire rule,) who in turn passed them on to his German private doctor, who later transfered them to a former professor of his, Austrian chemist and botanist, Johann Andreas Scherer.
By 1844, most of the meteorite had made it to Vienna’s Natural History Museum, at the time one of the World’s most important repositories of its type, where it remained until its brief return, on loan, to Greece.
Vienna’s museum hosts over 30 million objects, the biggest and oldest meteorite collection in the world.
Among them, there are four main fragments of the Serres meteorite: the fragment currently exhibited in Athens weighing 4.65 kg, and three smaller ones weighing 1.54 kg; 114.39 and 54 grams respectively.
The extraterrestrial object’s return to Greece was possible thanks to Greek geologist Ioannis Baziotis, who examined the meteorite back in 2014 and later sought a way to celebrate its bicentennial by organizing this brief exhibition supported by the Municipality of Fyli (Attica) and the Hellenic Space Organization.