Scientific papers are not known for its appealing, interesting titles but rather for being heavy on the jargon and almost completely incomprehensible, pretty indicative of what’s inside. However, every once in a while there’s an article that totally rocks the scientific world and can attract even the most unscientific minds. One such title can be found in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science which features the latest study entitled “The meteoric origin of Tutankhamun’s iron dagger blade.” No, it’s not a joke; King Tut’s dagger was literally out of this world.
King Tut ruled Ancient Egypt from 1332 and 1323 BCE and his body was buried along with his ornamental blade, unknown to the public until its excavation in 1922. The blade was examined by a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers who used a cutting-edge X-ray analysis. According to their findings, the blade is composed of mostly iron and smaller amounts of nickel and cobalt. What can be concluded from this unique elemental composition? Well it turns out that the dagger was built out of material from one of the oldest objects in the Solar System: an iron meteorite.
The meteorite dagger is not just amazingly ornamental, it’s not just that it’s a true work of art but it is one more piece of rarified evidence that the Ancient Egyptians placed great importance on forging ornaments from meteoric iron long before the dawn of the Iron Age. In fact, this meteoric reverence may be why a composite hieroglyphic term began appearing on tablets at roughly the same time: “iron of the sky.”
The researchers, led by Daniela Comelli, an associate professor at the department of Physics of Milan Polytechnic, wrote in their study:
“The introduction of the new composite term suggests 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.”
The researchers used a cutting edge technology for the analysis, known as X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. After conducting their tests it was more than evident that the dagger was composed mostly of iron meteorite which must have been forged from a meteorite that fell nearby. After realizing this, they started searching for historical records of meteorite impact sites within a radius of about 2,000 kilometers.
In their search for meteorite impact sites they found records of 20 iron meteorites and by analyzing the dagger’s composition more thoroughly they were able to narrow the results down to the one and only – Kharga meteorite. This meteorite was found back in 2000 on a limestone plateau in Mersa Matruh, a seaport west of the city of Alexandria
They assume that the Ancient Egyptians must have seen it fall down from the sky, breaking into pieces and were sent on an expedition to recover some of the heavenly pieces which were later used for King Tut’s dagger. Amazing isn’t it?