A dagger entombed with ancient Egypt’s King Tutankhamun was made from meteorite materials, according to new research.
Tutankhamun, one of Egypt’s best-known Pharaohs, was discovered in 1925 by Howard Carter with two daggers – one iron and one gold – that were buried with him when he was mummified 3,300 years ago.
The iron blade has puzzled researchers since its discovery. Iron was not often used in ancient Egypt and the blade had not rusted. New analysis on the metal composition shows high nickel content and high levels of cobalt, which “strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin”.
After comparing the composition to meteorites around the Red Sea in Egypt, one, named Kharga, was found to have similar levels. In other words, Tutankhamun had a space dagger.
In 2013 nine blackened iron beads from 3,200 BC, many years before the young king, were excavated from a cemetery near the Nile and were found to be of meteoritic origin. These and the dagger are the only ironwork objects thus far discovered from ancient Egypt.
“As the only two valuable iron artefacts from ancient Egypt so far accurately analysed are of meteoritic origin,” said the research team, “we suggest that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of fine ornamental or ceremonial objects”.
And, given that in the 13th century BC the ancient Egyptians had a word translating to “iron of the sky”, the researchers suggest that the ancient Egyptians were aware that these rare chunks of iron fell from the sky already in the 13th (century) BCE, anticipating Western culture by more than two millennia.”