Before the advent of iron smelting, meteoric iron was the only source of iron metal apart from minor amounts of telluric iron. Meteoric iron was already used before the beginning of the iron age to make cultural objects, tools and weapons.
Many examples of iron working from the Bronze Age have been confirmed to be meteoritic in origin.
In ancient Egypt an iron metal bead was found in a graveyard near Gerzeh that contained 7.5% Ni. Dated to around 3200 BC, Geochemical analysis of the Gerzeh iron beads, based on the ratio of nickel to iron and cobalt, confirms that the iron was meteoritic in origin.
Dated to around 2500 BC, an iron dagger from Alaca Höyük in Turkey was confirmed to be meteoritic in origin through geochemical analysis.
Dated to around 2300 BC, an iron pendant from Umm el-Marra in Syria was confirmed to be meteoritic in origin through geochemical analysis.
Dated to around 1400 BC, an iron axe from Ugarit in Syria was found to be meteoritic in origin.
Dated to around 1400 BC, several iron axes from the Shang Dynasty in China were also confirmed to be meteoritic in origin.
Dated to around 1350 BC, an iron dagger, bracelet and headrest from the tomb of Tutankhamun were confirmed to be meteoritic in origin. The Tutankhamun dagger consists of similar proportions of metals (iron, nickel and cobalt) to a meteorite discovered in the area, deposited by an ancient meteor shower.
Fragments from the Gibeon meteorite were used for centuries by the Nama people of Namibia.
There are reports of the use of meteorites for manufacture of various items in Tibet (see Thokcha).
The Iron Man, a statue of Vaiśravaṇa carved from an iron meteorite., a purported Tibetan Buddhist statue, the Iron Man, was likely carved from an ataxite meteorite. It has been speculated that it may be made from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite.
Even after the invention of smelting, meteoric iron was sometimes used where this technology was not available or metal was scarce. A piece of the Cranbourne meteorite was made into a horseshoe around 1854.
Today meteoritic iron is used in niche jewellery and knife production, but most of it is used for research, educational or collecting purposes.
Meteoric iron also has an effect on the Earth's atmosphere. When meteorites descend through the atmosphere outer parts are ablated. Meteoric ablation is the source of many elements in the upper atmosphere. When meteoric iron is ablated it forms a free iron atom, that can react with ozone (O3) to form FeO. This FeO may be the source of the orange spectrographic bands in the spectrum of the upper atmosphere.
^Lovering, John F.; Nichiporuk, Walter; Chodos, Arthur; Brown, Harrison (31 December 1956). "The distribution of gallium, germanium, cobalt, chromium, and copper in iron and stony-iron meteorites in relation to nickel content and structure". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 11 (4): 263–278. Bibcode:1957GeCoA..11..263L. doi:10.1016/0016-7037(57)90099-6.
^Waldbaum, J. C. and James D. Muhly; The first archaeological appearance of iron and the transition to the iron age chapter in The coming of the age of iron, Theodore A. Wertme. ed., Yale University Press, 1980, ISBN978-0300024258
^Rehren, Thilo; Belgya, Tamás; Jambon, Albert; Káli, György; et al. (31 July 2013). "5,000 years old Egyptian iron beads made from hammered meteoritic iron". Journal of Archaeological Science. 40 (12): 4785–4792. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.002.
^Evans, W. F. J.; Gattinger, R. L.; Slanger, T. G.; Saran, D. V.; et al. (20 November 2010). "Discovery of the FeO orange bands in the terrestrial night airglow spectrum obtained with OSIRIS on the Odin spacecraft". Geophysical Research Letters. 37 (22): L22105. Bibcode:2010GeoRL..3722105E. doi:10.1029/2010GL045310.