For centuries in various regions of the world, people have been digging up strangely-shaped pieces of a hard, obsidian-like glassy material which bear no geologic relation to the ground in which they are found. Many of the shapes these objects take bear more resemblance to organic objects than to rocks; which is probably why they have been of interest for so long and to so many.
They were dubbed 'tektites' by geologists because it seemed that they were 'placed' there somehow by an external force. Vast strew fields of tektites are found across south-east Asia, where they are dug up in their thousands during tin and other mining operations. There are strew fields around Moldavia ('moldavites'), southern Australia ('australites') and other regions. Often, pieces from any particular field can be readily identified by their characteristic shape, colour and composition.
Tektites appear to be of volcanic origin, in that they invariably show evidence of having once been molten or near molten. Most have 'bubbly' surfaces and many bear signs of having been hurled through the air at great temperatures and speeds. An early theory (which has since been discounted) was that they were the debris that rained down on Earth after a prehistoric volcanic eruption on the moon. Computer models of such an explosion projected strew fields which closely correspond to those we know of.
For more detailed information about tektites, please visit the Amethyst Galleries' Mineral Gallery.
This collection of tektites was accumulated by me during eighteen months in Malaysia in 1979-1981. At one stage I visited a jeweller's store in Bangkok and spent a few hours rummaging around in their stock: they had upwards of fifty tea-chests full of tektites! My collection was recently recovered from the Macquarie University Geological Museum, where it had been on loan for some years but was never displayed as promised. So I'm displaying it myself.
Occasionally you'll find tektites on sale in Australia - my brother bought some from the Australian Museum a few years ago. There are several internet sites through which you can obtain a variety of tektites.
The following images are in greyscale, as all of my tektites are more or less a deep glossy black. The images were scanned from a proof-sheet of specimen photos taken some years ago; each image was the size of a 35mm slide. I have also slightly overdone the JPG compression to save download time, so the images are perhaps a bit too fuzzy.