The Wolfsegg Iron
The Wolfsegg Iron, also known as The Salzburg Cube, is a small cuboid mass of iron that was found buried in Tertiary lignite in Wolfsegg am Hausruck, Austria, in 1885. It weighs 785 grams and measures 67 x 67 x 47mm. Four of its sides are roughly flat, while the two remaining sides (opposite each other) are convex. A fairly deep groove is incised all the way around the object, about mid-way up its height.
The Wolfsegg Iron became notable when it was claimed to be an out of place artifact: a worked iron cube found buried in a 20 million year old coal seam. It was originally identified by scientists as being of meteoric origin, a suggestion later ruled out by analysis. It seems most likely that it is a piece of cast iron used as ballast in mining machinery, deposited during mining efforts before it was found apparently within the seam.
The Iron was reportedly discovered when a workman at the Braun iron foundry in Schondorf, Austria, was breaking up a block of lignite that had been mined at Wolfsegg. In 1886, mining engineer Adolf Gurlt reported on the object to the Natural History Society of Bonn, noting that the object was coated with a thin layer of rust, was made of iron, and had a specific gravity of 7.75. Other early studies of the object appeared in contemporary editions of the scientific journals Nature and L'Astronomie, the object identified as being a fossil meteorite. A plaster cast was made of the object shortly before the end of the 19th century, as the original had suffered from being handled, and had had samples cut from it by researchers.
The object was analysed in 1966–1967 by the Vienna Naturhistorisches Museum using electron beam micro-analysis, which found no traces of nickel, chromium or cobalt in the iron, suggesting that it was not of meteoric origin, while the lack of sulfur indicated that it is not a pyrite. Because of its low magnesium content, Dr. Gero Kurat of the museum and Dr. Rudolf Grill of the Federal Geological Office in Vienna thought that it might be cast iron, Grill suggesting that similar rough lumps had been used as ballast in early mining machinery.
The cast is currently kept in the Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseen in Linz, Austria, where the original object was also exhibited from 1950 to 1958, while the original cuboid is held by the Heimathaus Museum of Vöcklabruck, Austria.
The Wolfsegg Iron is claimed by some as an out-of-place artifact (OOPArt), and it is often stated as a fact in paranormal literature that it disappeared without trace in 1910, from the Salzburg Museum. In fact, as mentioned above, it is at the Heimathaus Museum in Vöcklabruck, Austria, which is where the above photo was taken. It has also erroneously been described as "a perfectly machined steel cube".
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