Part of ancient death mask containing 'space metal' discovered in Florida

Step aside Indiana Jones. 

Archaeologists with Seafarer Exploration Corporation have unearthed an ancient death mask, dating back possibly thousands of years BC.  The artifact, which is as thin as a piece of paper, was found on Melbourne Beach, Florida.

And that’s not all.  The mask contains a precious metal, as an X-ray has revealed the presence of iridium, possibly from a meteorite.  The theory is, the item was taken by Spanish tomb-raiders, and the piece of metal was part of a funeral headpiece from a pre-Incan civilization in Peru.

“This is some of the earliest evidence of man’s ability to metal work and to use iridium,” said Dr. Michael Torres, who found the mask.  "That changes things, and may change the way we perceive ancient Peruvian cultures."

Dr. Torres is part of a team working to recover items of historical significance and value from the shipwreck site of the Spanish galleon, La Concepcion.  The mask is thought to have washed up from the vessel, which was lost with most of the fleet during a hurricane in 1715.  Researchers believe there could be more booty at the site.

With any treasure hunt, there is some degree of luck.  Dr. Torres pinged on the artifact using a metal detector which cost a couple hundred bucks, to discover the headpiece, which is priceless.

"It was looted from Machu Picchu,” Dr. Torres told FOX 35. 

Torres said he would like to gift the artifact to a museum.