1490: When a Meteorite Killed 10,000 People in the Chinese City of Ch’ing-yang

History recalls how meteorites have wreaked havoc with humans. More recently in 2013, a house-sized meteorite exploded over the town of Chelyabinsk, Russia, in which 1,200 people were injured by falling debris. On Jan. 30, 1868, near the town of Pultusk, Poland, a meteorite exploded causing a rain of over 100,000 pieces of rock to fall on residents. If we go back even further in history though, to the 4th April 1490, Chinese chroniclers in the city of Ch’ing-yang recorded a meteoric event that supposedly caused the deaths of around 10,000 people. 

According to sources, a rain of rock fell from the sky, striking the inhabitants of the city, leading to a tremendous loss of life. Scientists believe the best explanation is that a meteorite had exploded in the area, causing the debris to fall from the sky. Eyewitnesses claim the rocks were of different sizes, including some that were as large as Goose eggs, and others that were a similar size to chestnuts.

This event led to a mass exodus from the city, with surviving residents scarred by the aftermath. In an age of supernatural beliefs, residents were terrified. Rather than having a scientific explanation for what had happened, the event would probably have been viewed as a celestial sign of retribution from the gods.

Despite the authority of the sources, the death toll is questionable, and the cause is debatable, but according to the official chronicles of the Ming dynasty, the event did happen. 

One theory is that the rain was actually abnormally large hailstones, but the sources seem to coincide with a similar event that took place in the Yunnan province back in the 14th century, which describes how an “iron rain” fell on the area, destroying crops and homes. 

Meteorites hitting earth are more common than you might think, but for some treasure hunters, they provide a great deal of value and information.