Tektites have been found with other artifacts in archaeological sites dating back thousands of years. They have a long history of use and significance to man.
Ancient man in many places took advantage of the glassy nature of tektites and used them for making flaked tools. Later, they were considered to have religious significance in Asia, the colorful green varieties (Moldavites) of Europe have been used for jewelry for hundreds of years and are making a return as gems today.
From a geological point of view tektites are recent visitors to Earth the Australasian tektites are accepted by almost everyone as being the youngest. With the commonest stated age for the tektites themselves at about 700,000 years.
However, the evidence for them being on the Earth is less clear. In the case of the Australites they are found in rock strata which is younger than 20,000 years. These sites were dug with archaeological techniques and they contained material which was radiocarbon testable. The Australites from these sites were so delicate and so well preserved it is clear to the finders that they were found where they fell and that they had not been there long. Other scientists looking at the site and the data think that the tektites were all transported to the location from older strata. Also, broken tektites were found at the same location by later researchers so transport and breakage of some and not others is likely.
The dates for the tektites of the other strewnfields range back to as old as 33+ million for the North American strewnfield in the southeast of the United States.
An important aspect of tektite history has to be the study which has been done by scientists. They have been studied now for well over a hundred years. They have been speculated about and argued over and this has caused them to be prized by both scientist and collectors.
The origin theories of tektites all have serious gaps in them. More research continues to be done, and more needs to be done. There was a surge of study in the 1960's and 1970's. Scientists further polarized themselves into camps. Clearly the lack of close similarity to tektites of the rocks brought back was a great disappointment to lunar theorist. However, they took some comfort in the glass spheres contained in the soils of the Moon, and that the soils themselves were found to be more similar.
Tektites are often collected by people which have few sources of income. One individual in Asia exporting tektites a number of years ago was executed by a gang of bandits, who believed he possessed a map to treasure. The inability of family members to successfully continue the business closed that source of the material forever. Some tektites are so rare they command very high prices on the collector's market. Others are plentiful and yet each of these is an individual and has something special about it if examined carefully. They will continue to be perhaps the most unique and mysterious rocks on our world.
Tektites ( Australasian)
Moldavite (Czechoslovakia )
Libyan Desert Glass ( USA )