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Old 3rd August 2006, 01:16 PM   #1
Mare Rosu
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Question Meteorite Dagger?

Closed item from eBay.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...10014116936&id=
Any comments? Jens, B.I.?
I think if it is a real Meteorite Dagger price was very low.
Gene
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Old 3rd August 2006, 01:50 PM   #2
Jens Nordlunde
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Well Gene, not everything that shines is gold, but I have no doubt the seller can convince some about the meteoric iron – I am not convinced, and I think he may have some problems to prove it. Most, if not all, meteoric iron made into blades had to be mixed with ‘earthly’ iron ore, as the ‘heavenly’ iron was not suited to be worked alone.

If you search for ‘Meteoric iron’ you will find the answer in one of the threads – happy reading.
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Old 3rd August 2006, 03:44 PM   #3
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I AM VERY SUSPECIOUS OF THIS ITEM ESPECIALLY BECAUSE OF THE RUST ON THE BLADE, THE LOOSE RUST WAS NOT EVEN BRUSHED OFF FOR THE PHOTO. I GUESS THEY THOUGHT THAT WOULD MAKE IT LOOK OLD BUT ONE WITH KNOWLEGE OF EDGED WEAPONS WHO WAS TRYING TO PRESENT A RARE AND UNIQUE ITEM FOR SALE WOULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT.

I WOULD NOT WANT IT IN MY COLLECTION BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT THE LADYS PUT BATTERIES IN.
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Old 3rd August 2006, 05:57 PM   #4
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Thumbs down Red flags ...

Another one where the seller's feedback is "private" and the bidders' IDs are kept "private."

CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!
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Old 3rd August 2006, 09:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
I WOULD NOT WANT IT IN MY COLLECTION BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT THE LADYS PUT BATTERIES IN.


And I thought it looked like a candle.

I have to add... than not all meteorite blades were worked and folded... if a "raw" meteorite were just shaped into a blade form and then rusted, you would be able to see some of the Widmanstatten pattern in the rust (assuming that it is not an ataxite). There are examples from Namibia (weapons made from the Gibeon Meteorite). Some spear points have been polished and etched... cool!
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Old 3rd August 2006, 11:34 PM   #6
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Yes, meteoritic material can be cut, polished etched, and mounted as a blade. This has been done by some custom knife makers in the US, and possibly in other places, too.

When meteoritic material has been used as pamor in keris and other items of wesi aji in Jawa, the fragments of meteoritic material have been wrapped in an iron envelope, welded together, and then repeatedly folded and welded until the material was clean. The end product of this process could be used to make a blade, or it could be used to adorn a blade as pamor.

However, it is possible to take pieces of meteoritic material and weld these pieces into a solid, clean mass of material. I have done this on several occasions, and although I only produced small billets, just large enough to provide pamor material for a keris, after combining with iron, if I had had a larger quantity of meteorite, I could easily have produced a billet large enough for a knife blade made entirely of meteoritic material.

If I can do it, other people could have done it. It is possible.

As for identifying meteoritic material after it has been forged, well, the famous historical metallurgist Professor Jerzy Piaskowski of Poland cannot advise of any way in which this can be done, and judging from the response I have had from other analytical metallugists spread across the globe, including a couple who specialise in analysis of meteorites, nobody else can tell us how to do it either.
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Old 4th August 2006, 03:01 AM   #7
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This seller specializes in "interesting" and "unusual" items of "great spititual power". He seems to offer a great deal of such items.
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Old 4th August 2006, 03:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Another one where the seller's feedback is "private" and the bidders' IDs are kept "private."

CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!


I concur with Ian, private feedback is the first red flag flown by an unscrupulous eBay seller, the second red flag is keeping the bidders ID private so a knowledgeable collector is unable to warn the bidder. Also! Ebay is flooded with cheap Chinese imports.
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Old 4th August 2006, 01:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
As for identifying meteoritic material after it has been forged, well, the famous historical metallurgist Professor Jerzy Piaskowski of Poland cannot advise of any way in which this can be done, and judging from the response I have had from other analytical metallugists spread across the globe, including a couple who specialise in analysis of meteorites, nobody else can tell us how to do it either.


I am a bit surprised that people who analyze meteorites do not know how to do this. The answer is in the trace elements, they are the fingerprint for cosmic origin. Arizona State University, Center for Meteorite Studies has been using an Electron Microprobe for years to do qualitative/quantitative analysis for meteorites and trace element amounts. The question is, getting someone to do this test (it requires polishing a small area of the surface) on a non-meteorite, and putting a number of blemishes on you otherwise beautiful sword. (Well, there is the issues of sample size).

FYI:

http://meteorites.asu.edu/

http://probelab.geo.umn.edu/

http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/labs/micropr...ption/home.html

Last edited by BSMStar : 4th August 2006 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 4th August 2006, 02:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
The answer is in the trace elements, they are the fingerprint for cosmic origin.

You can get trace elements by INAA as well as EMP, with a very small sample size.
I think in addition to a good Iridium anomaly, a blade with a percentage of meteorite would have oxygen isotopes that are skewed off the terrestrial mass fractionation line.
By looking at the Cobalt/Nickel ratio you might get some clues as well.
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Old 4th August 2006, 02:52 PM   #11
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Interesting mails, and educational as well, and I admit I wrote about something I did not know anything about. I do however find it unlikely, that the seller had the blade tested by one of the methods mentioned, or he would have mentioned it.
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Old 4th August 2006, 06:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
I do however find it unlikely, that the seller had the blade tested by one of the methods mentioned, or he would have mentioned it. [/font][/color]


Jens, didn't you read?

1. It was likely to be made of meteorite.
2. Meteorite blades do not rust.
And my favorite...
3. Always acquire ancient artifacts from expert sources. (Yea right...)

So, this fine print suggests:
1. It might be made from a meteorite.
2. The blade rusted, so it is not made from a meteorite (following the logic).
3. Do not buy from me; since you can not buy $50,000+ ancient artifacts for $600.

And I still think it looks like one of my wife's candles.
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Old 4th August 2006, 06:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Pringle
You can get trace elements by INAA as well as EMP, with a very small sample size.
I think in addition to a good Iridium anomaly, a blade with a percentage of meteorite would have oxygen isotopes that are skewed off the terrestrial mass fractionation line.
By looking at the Cobalt/Nickel ratio you might get some clues as well.


For those who are hard core, here is a link on INAA:

http://www.ncnr.nist.gov/div8395/inaa.html
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Old 4th August 2006, 10:33 PM   #14
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Thanks for your input on the ID question, BSM & Jeff.

I first started to make this enquiry in about 1986.

Since the first time I enquired I have posed the same, or a similar question to more people than I can recall.

I most recently posed the question on 6th. March 2006, when I sent emails to a number of people who specialize in analysis of meteoritic material.

A couple did not answer.

A couple clearly did not understand what I wrote and replied with answers that were not relevant to my question.

The other people who replied, and I forget now if I recieved two answers or three, provided answers which indicated that it was not possible to identify meteoritic material in circumstances that I outlined.

Would you two gentlemen concur with those opinions, or not?

Here is the text of the letter that I sent out in March this year:-

Dear ---------,

My name is Alan Maisey.

My field of study is the Javanese keris.

The keris in Java is a cultural icon surrounded by complex layers of belief systems.

One of these beliefs relates to the inclusion of meteoritic material in the blade of the keris.

A keris blade is made by forge processes involving multiple layering and welding of the material used in the construction of the blade. A blade containing meteoritic material would typically have the meteoritic material refined and cleaned by folding and welding, and then this meteoritic material would be combined, by folding and welding, with iron.

We know that material from the Prambanan meteorite was used in the construction of some keris made in Central Jawa and dating from circa 1800.

I myself have worked with a Javanese pandai keris (keris maker) and produced a blade made of meteoritic material from Arizona.

A continuing problem for students of the keris is the identification of keris blades which contain meteoritic material. We know that some blades do contain this material, but we have no way of knowing which blades these are, short of actually knowing the history and maker of the blade, something which is so rare as to be almost non-existent.

It is relatively important for keris blades which do contain meteoritic material to be identifiable.

A keris blade that definitely contains meteoritic material has a higher cultural and monetary value, than does one which does not contain meteoritic material.

It has been suggested to me that use of electron microprobe procedures could provide positive identification of meteoritic material incorporated as a component of forge worked material combined with iron.

My question to you is this:-

Is it possible to positively identify material which has been subjected to forge processes, including welding, as containing meteoritic material?

Your response would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Alan Maisey




There it is, BSM & Jeff.

Take a very small quantity of meteoritic material, fold and weld with iron through at least 8 folds and more than 8 weld heats, weld the resulting billet to a piece of steel, forge this out and shape and finish it.

Then subject the finished product to analysis and give a positive ID of meteoritic content.

Can it be done or not?
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Old 5th August 2006, 02:33 AM   #15
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I think it could be done, but it would take some work & money to get to where you can make it ‘definite’.
For example, say I send you a few grams of metal from a blade I just made, 50% meteorite, 50% home-smelted steel. You send that to a lab and have trace element analysis done, you have one data point. It would be a good data point, ‘cause I can tell you which meteorite I used, and you could compare it to the unforged meteorite, there are usually reams of trace element data available on meteorites - now you got two points, which show how the meteorite material is diluted out.
But wait, the blade I did is non-homogenous (as are most keris), you really ought to analyze it more than once, or at least make sure your lab is taking that into account.
Now you check a keris (Datum three? Four?), if it’s old, they weren’t using meteorites from AZ or Argentina, so you have a different element pattern, perhaps – you could study up on element fractionation in the cores of asteroids to figure out which elements are significant, but at this point I’m starting to wonder what non-meteoric kerisses have in them, so you better send a sample of one of them out for testing – there’s another data point (nickel could be a discriminator, but terrestrial nickel is used, too).
Go through that process enough times, you’ll have a great way to graph out any blade, and it will drop into the ‘extra’ or the ‘terrestrial’ field, with an acceptable level of certainty.
But at this time, no one has done that (& published), so we can only speculate – Iridium should be high, that’s how they started thinking the K/T boundary layer was meteorite-related, and that’s got to be more diluted than a keris, it’s geologic in scale !
Some study of the significant element ratios would be in order before you start, so you can cut lab costs, or just bet on iridium and go for it. I think a couple of different element ratios would be better in the long run, though – you’d be able to sort out which meteorites went into which blade, eventually, and avoid unscrupulous iridium smiths (I don’t really think they exist, yet!).
The best place for asteroid paper research:
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html
Or, get a planetary scientist to take an interest in the project – but they are really swamped in actual meteorites now, so they might be too busy for this esoteric pursuit.
And if you want a piece of this blade’s metal for testing, look out for the positive Boron anomaly – I did the welding with borax flux
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Old 5th August 2006, 02:58 AM   #16
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Thanks Jeff.

I think you just confirmed what everybody else who understood the question had already said. Not in quite the same words perhaps, but the end result is the same.

What it comes down to is that there is no economically viable way to obtain a positive ID on meteoritic content in a keris.

There may be a way to determine if there is meteoritic content, but even that is not certain.

Testing would of course need to be non-destructive.

If the value of the object is $X, and its value might rise to $2X if it can be definitely proven to contain meteoritic material, its not really a proposition to carry out tests that could run to $X to the power of 10.

I reckon we`re just about back where we started as far meteors and keris go:- believe it if you will, its an item of faith, and who can criticise another`s faith?
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Old 5th August 2006, 03:43 AM   #17
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Quote:
there is no economically viable way to obtain a positive ID on meteoritic content in a keris

Well, if we can find someone with a large collection of keris, and convince them to drop their current career and get a job as a microprobe tech....

I should point out that I'm just a smith who occasionally ponders on cosmochemistry, I don't necessarily know what I'm talking about; I'm pretty sure the above method would be the way to do it, though.
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Old 5th August 2006, 04:13 AM   #18
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Just for clarification (for the Electron Microprobe)...

1. Concentration of meteoritic material in a say a Keris, can be important. As long as it is not present is minute amounts, the trace elements should still be detectable.

2. How homogenous is the mix? If it is not very homogenous, multiple samplings made have to be made.

3. Identification of cosmic origin won’t be a problem. Every known meteorite type has been “fingerprinted” many times over. The traces are established and well known.

4. Sampling… the area of polish will be about a 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch square (not a bad size blemish)… but the whole sample (blade) has to fit in the microprobe… that maybe an issue for large samples without removing a piece of the blade. Not my first choice.

5. Since it was stated that a method could not be advised or suggested, and no one could tell us how to do it… with no rules of engagement for the sample, I just wanted to state that it is possible. But I do not believe that I suggested this would be desirable or easy… just possible. It becomes a soul search at this point; as to how bad do you want to do it and why.
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Old 5th August 2006, 04:58 AM   #19
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Quite frankly BSM, I don`t want to do it at all.

I believe I can mostly identify meteoritic material by recognising the origin, method of construction, and probable maker of a blade, and then using the "touch test"---the stuff does feel a little bit different to other materials used as pamor.

I`ve been posing the question all these years because I`ve sometimes thought it might be a good academic exercise to put together a sampling of blades that recognised Javanese experts considered contained meteoritic material, and seeing just how good the indicators that have been used were.

The mix is not at all homogenous. Its layers upon layers upon layers. You could probably test 20 different spots before you struck a square 1/8 inch that actually had meteoritic material in it. On the types of blades that I know contain meteoritic material I could not imagine any keris fancier approving the polish of even one section of 1/8 by 1/8 inch.You probably could ID a section of material that waslikely to contain meteoritic material though. That would probably reduce the number of tests needed.

A normal Javanese keris blade is going to run about 16 inches, including the tang.

But tell me this:- those trace elements that you would be looking for:- are they still going to be there after the material has gone through many, many weld heats?
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Old 5th August 2006, 06:34 AM   #20
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Quote:
those trace elements that you would be looking for:- are they still going to be there after the material has gone through many, many weld heats?

I believe so, they track meteorite contamination of the lunar surface by looking at things like PGE (platinum group elements), which are not likely to oxidize away before iron in a welding operation.
Iron meteorites are full of the non-volatile stuff that didn't burn off during the birth of the solar system, and was too heavy to float away from the center of the new-born planets/asteriods - I bet a few minutes at 2300 F would have little effect.

Thanks for that very good synopsis of the ebay auction copy, BSMStar!

I'm curious about what levels of these trace elements are in commercial steel, now...time to do some research...
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Old 5th August 2006, 04:28 PM   #21
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Perhaps a better way -
Take a couple months going through the various reference material standards for steels on the web, pulling out the info on the few for which there is trace element data.
Do the same for iron meteorites.
Pick a couple trace elements that aren't typically manipulated in steel production, say Ag, Au, As, Ge, Ta, Zr, Hf, La; the earth steels should plot in one area (or along a single line) when comparing two elements, meteoric metal in one or more areas outside or overlapping - the 'right' pair of elements should allow good discrimination.
You might be able to get the same result by comparing Ni to Co, or P to S; but since those are manipulated elements they might not graph well.
Get a keris tested, it should fall between the two areas, if it's a mix of the two metals - and you've only paid for one lab test!
You'll have to put in some hours with the Excel program's chart function, though
Bonus, you could publish an article in a scientific journal or popular magazine once you're done!
http://www.nist.gov/srm
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Old 5th August 2006, 04:50 PM   #22
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Hi Jeff,

For one who knows something about what you describe, it sounds plausible that the way you describe it will work very well – I don’t know anything about it. So I will have to ask a question. How can you be sure that the two metals are mixed so well that they will both be represented in the little piece you take out for testing?
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Old 5th August 2006, 05:58 PM   #23
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You'd have to sample carefully, but since we are limiting the discussion to non-destructive techniques, I think EMP or XRF (X-ray flourescence) are the only options. Both of those techniques can be aimed, so you could (with EMP, at least) get measurements of the different layers in the pamor. I'm not sure how small an area XRF samples, but they use it on artifacts in museums, so it's very non-destructive. The trace elements are uniformly distributed through the metals, so you'd only have to take into account the mix of the two metals in the folding process, and sample accordingly...
...or so I think!

INAA (or EMP or XRF) would be good if you could take some filings off the end of a tang, but then you couldn't be sure the tang was the same metal as the pamor, and you'd have potential issues.
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Old 5th August 2006, 06:00 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Quite frankly BSM, I don`t want to do it at all.


I agree will you, if you are looked at it from a solely monetary or “what can I gain from it” standpoint. In the field of Samurai blades… old, damaged blades have been cross-sectioned and analyzed to reveal the method of sword making by the old masters. There is no reason research can not be carried out on the Keris. It may be interesting (from a scientific view) to better understand the question that we are all asking… how common is it for meteorite material to be used in Keris making? It is possible to answer this question. Then we would know if the conventional knowledge is correct on which contain meteorite and which do not (is there a look and feel to them).

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
The mix is not at all homogenous. Its layers upon layers upon layers. You could probably test 20 different spots before you struck a square 1/8 inch that actually had meteoritic material in it.


I am not a Keris making expert. But I believe that I stated the concentration of the meteoritic material is important. If 0.1 grams of meteorite are added to 5000 grams of earth iron… that would be a minute amount of meteorite. If only 10 grams of this mix is folded into the Keris, you are going to have more than a tough go at it…. But I would also say, there are no visual or tactile methods to detect this small amount of material either. I would assume (underline assume) that there would be a significant amount of meteorite material…enough to add to the pamor. If this is the case, then two to three tests max should find it (if not found on the first try). After all, you select where you test. With experience, you will know where to look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
But tell me this:- those trace elements that you would be looking for:- are they still going to be there after the material has gone through many, many weld heats?


Elements are not destroyed or changed during heating (unless they are in a star). Some may be volatile (released as vapors on extreme heating), but if my memory serves me correctly (it has been over thirty years ago that I took CosmoChem at ASU), these are "heavier" elements – they will still be there.

Jens... I hope I addressed your question too.

Last edited by BSMStar : 5th August 2006 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 5th August 2006, 06:13 PM   #25
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I you are hard core on trace... try this link.

http://www.metbase.de/description/a...ntsinirons.html
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Old 5th August 2006, 11:44 PM   #26
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As I write this I am looking at a keris that I made the pamor material for. It was made from meteoritic material from Arizona, and the concentration of this material is pretty rich. About the largest area of this pamor that I could definitely identify as solid, uninterrupted meteoritic material, is approx. 1.5 mm. That`s near enough to the 1/8 inch we were talking about, so if the size of the keris itself doesn`t rule it out, and taking into account the other factors that have been addressed, it would seem to be physically possible to analyse a keris blade and determine if meteoritic material had been used in its manufacture.

The "what can I make from it" factor is not a part of this discussion.

As I have already stated, my interest in this purely academic, as has been my continuing interest since 1988 in the metallurgical analysis of old and archaic keris in order to determine composition and techniques used in manufacture.

The market value of any keris, even those at the top of the market, would not be sufficiently increased by a positive ID of meteoritic material to come anywhere near covering what would appear to be the cost of testing.

The whole thing is simply an interesting question that has grown out of a folk belief, or perhaps we should say "item of faith" that has entered the Javanese keris belief system since the Prambanan meteorite was used in the manufacture of keris in Central Jawa, in the early 1800's. This was addressed by Bronson in his 1987 paper:- "Terrestrial and Meteoritic Nickel in the Indonesian Keris".

However, technology has moved along a bit in the last 20 years, and it seems that we now have the means that Bronson did not have to be able to provide definite ID . Now all we need is somebody with access to equipment, interest, funding, and of course, access to samples. Bring all these things together, and somebody could produce a landmark paper.

Actually, Haryono Arumbinang carried out an analysis on some old keris, in Jogja, in , I think, 1983. I do not have the results of this analysis to hand, but I have got them around somewhere. Regretably the interpretation of his analysis has been badly distorted by people not equipped to interpret it.
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Old 6th August 2006, 01:14 AM   #27
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With the Keris, I have always wondered… how did the method of folding two alloys come into being? The very early Keris did not contain nickel, and relied on two alloys of iron. Somewhere along the line, either nickel or meteorite material was introduced. Which came first? When I was first introduced to the Keris, I was left with the impression that the nickel in the pamor came from meteorites…. But maybe the nickel rich iron deposits created this pamor first. Adding heavenly iron was just to help with the connection of the cosmic. A history of Keris alloys would be fascinating to see. Add to this the “staining” of the blade to bring out the pamor… now there’s a story (must have been an amazing set of events to arrive at the finished product the first time it was done)!!!
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Old 6th August 2006, 01:37 AM   #28
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BSM, the question you have raised is pretty much what Bronson set out to answer.

There is, as yet, no definitive answer, but it is probable that material from Luwu in Sulawesi was the first material used that contained nickel.

Then the Prambanan meteorite came along, and then Groneman introduced the Central Javanese makers to European nickel.

However, the actual technique of folding probably came along in much the same way as it did in Europe, as a necessity to produce material of good enough quality to use. This might have been introduced from India, or from the middle-east. I feel that the method of construction of a keris blade, with the steel core, and plates of pamor on either side, was probably just an outgrowth of the same technology. Along the way it acquired other attributes that in the end made it essential.

In this whole field there are probably enough unknowns to keep a team of professional reseachers busy for a couple of lifetimes. Never going to happen though.

The blade staining probably goes back to at least Majapahit, as the blades showing contrast are remarked upon in the Chinese annals. However, I strongly suspect that the use of acids in cleaning is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Maybe not more than a couple of hundred years old.
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Old 6th August 2006, 04:00 PM   #29
fearn
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Hi Jeff and all,

Sorry I'm late to the discussion, but I'm not convinced that a microprobe would give a good answer to the percent of meteoric iron in a keris, especially an old one.

The unobvious problem is that keris blades are occasionally cleaned with an arsenic (As) solution, so the researcher has to factor in the accumulation (if any) from cleaning. Since it's not pure arsenic in the Indonesian cleaning solutions, this would take some experimentation.

The obvious problem is that the terrestrial iron isn't pure iron, nor is the carbon to make the steel pure carbon. There's going to be a mix of other trace elements that will have to be factored in. In old blades, the iron will not be to an industrial spec, but may have been smelted from ore in the village where the blade was made, or beaten together from recycled sources. Similarly,the carbon source can affect the trace element signature of the steel. For instance, coal picks up various heavy metals (such as mercury, the bane of the midwest US), and trees that are used to make charcoal typically accumulate some cesium (a byproduct of potassium metabolism), and some plants deliberately accumulate metals. As another example, one tree species in New Caledonia naturally accumulates so much nickel (as a chemical defense against herbivores) that the sap could be mined, if it was more common. Given that, in Indonesia, we're talking about one of the richest rainforest areas on the planet (i.e. lots of tree species), the tree species used into charcoal could affect the chemistry of the charcoal used to make the steel, affecting the chemical fingerprint of the resulting keris.

Complex? Yup. The only solution I've come up with so far is to get two blades from the smith, one a tool with no meteoric iron, the other a keris with some putative meteoric iron, both forged at roughly the same time, so they have the same source materials, aside from the meteoritic component. Then you can factor out the terrestrial sources. After that, you have to determine how cleaning the keris with the arsenic solution affects that blade's chemistry. Once you've done that, you can actually say how much of the keris is meteoric.

Bottom line, it will be difficult to predict or determine the trace element chemistry of the terrestrial component of keris, and without that information, it would be very, very difficult to detect the extraterrestrial material in a trace element analysis.

The "good" news is that an old keris is in many ways the worst case scenario. A blade forged with modern, industrial steel, made in the northern hemisphere from materials of known or knowable chemistry, would be much simpler to study

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Old 6th August 2006, 05:23 PM   #30
Jens Nordlunde
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Hi Fearn,

This is most interesting, the only thing I can see which could make a difference is the greater pollution in the air to day than some hundred years ago – would this make a difference?

Jens
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