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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/527

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THE GREAT BOMBARDMENT.

fell down before it, deeming it a messenger from the gods. Diana of Ephesus and the famous Cyprian Venus were, in all probability, meteoric stones which were seen to fall, and were worshiped for the same reason as above. Livy describes a shower of meteorites which fell about the Alban Mount 652 b. c. The senate was demoralized, and certain prophets announced it a warning from heaven, so impressing the lawmakers that they declared a nine-days' festival with which to propitiate the gods. The visitor to Mecca will find enshrined in a place of honor a meteorite which can be traced back beyond 600 a. d., and which is worshiped by pilgrims. The Tartars pointed out a meteorite to Pallas, in 1772, which had fallen at Krasnojarsk, and which they considered a holy messenger from heaven. A large body of meteoric iron found in Wichita County, Texas, was regarded by the Indians as a fetich. They told strangers that it came from the sky as a messenger from the Great Spirit. This meteorite was stationed at a point where two Indian trails met, and was observed and worshiped as a shrine.

The Chinese have records of meteors which fell 644 b. c. The oldest authentic fall in which the stone is preserved is that of Ensisheim, Elsass, Germany, in 1492. The stone, which weighed two hundred and sixty pounds, fell with a loud roar, much to the dismay of the peasantry, penetrating the ground to a depth of five feet. It was secured by King Maximilian, who, after presenting the Duke Sigismund with a section, hung the remainder in the parish church as a holy relic, where, it is said, it may still be seen.

Meteorites vary in size from minute objects not larger than a pea to masses of iron of enormous size. The Chupaderos meteorite, which fell in Chihuahua, Mexico, weighs twenty-five tons. Another, which fell in Kansas, broke into myriads of pieces, the sections found weighing thirteen hundred pounds. A meteorite in the Vienna Museum, which fell in Hungary, weighs six hundred and forty-seven pounds, while the Cranbourne meteorite in the British Museum weighs four tons. The Red River meteorite in the Yale Museum weighs sixteen hundred and thirty pounds. The largest meteorite known was discovered within the Arctic Circle by Lieutenant Peary. The Eskimos had known of it for generations as a source of supply for iron. It was found by Lieutenant Peary in May, 1894, but, owing to its enormous weight, could not be removed until the summer of 1897, when, after much labor, it was excavated and hoisted into the hold of the steam whaling bark Hope and carried to New York, where it has found a resting place in the cabinet of the American Museum of Natural History. It is believed to weigh one hundred tons.

Up to 1772 the stories of bodies falling from space were not