A prized moon rock belonging to the Dutch national museum has turned out to be, er, petrified wood. The rock's provenance goes back to 1969, when William Drees, the late prime minister of the Netherlands, received it as a gift from former US ambassador J. William Middendorf. The precious stone worthless rock was presented to the prime minister during a visit by the Apollo 11 astronauts shortly after the first moon landing. From the Associated Press:
Middendorf, who lives in Rhode Island, told Dutch NOS news that he had gotten it from the U.S. State Department, but couldn't recall the exact details.
The U.S. Embassy in the Hague said it was investigating the matter.
The museum had vetted the moon rock early on by checking with NASA, (Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra) van Gelder said.
She said the space agency told the museum then that it was possible the country had received a rock: NASA gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries in the early 1970s, but those were from later missions.
Researchers from Amsterdam's Free University said they could see at a glance the rock was not from the moon.
"It's a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone," Geologist Frank Beunk said in an article published by the museum.