The meteorite is the phenomenon when a meteor (a solid body of alien origin) enters Earth's atmosphere. The occurrence of such phenomena did not go unnoticed and even the people of ancient times tried to explain these strange events in their own way, connecting them with religion.
In some cultures, for example, they saw the pieces of meteorite rock that they found on the planet's surface as gifts from the angels. Others considered them as proof of the angered gods' fury.
In the period around the 17th century, it's as if the concept of their emergence began to change. New theories surfaced - that they fell from the sky after thunderstorms.
Scientists then remained skeptical of these theories and looked condescendingly on the idea that these objects could come from the clouds or somewhere in the sky.
Among the peoples who had their own theories about meteorites were the Native Americans. A tribe once inhabiting the territory of today's state of Montana believed that with the appearance of a meteor their society would be afflicted by disease or that the chieftain would suffer misfortune.
A tribe inhabiting the lands of present-day California also considers the emergence of a meteor a bad omen. According to another tribe, a meteor was the spirit of one of their deceased shamans.
Among these was the Wintu tribe of Northern California. Its members believed that meteors were the spirits of their shamans, who were headed for the afterlife.
A different Californian tribe had a similar conception of the phenomenon. Its people were convinced that meteors were in fact deceased who were making their way toward the afterlife. The Luiseño community had its own outlook. Its members believed that these were stars, plain and simple, which had moved unexpectedly.
According to the Eastern Pomo, another California tribe, meteors were fire coming down from the sky.
One of the most widespread beliefs pertaining to meteors might seem quite curious and unexpected to us. Some cultures believed that meteors were in fact the feces of the stars. Similar convictions were also highly common among some eskimo tribes.
But many of these beliefs were at times ascribed to comets and other celestial bodies, making it sometimes difficult for scientists to figure out whether the subjects of the stories of these tribes were actually meteors.