A famous dagger found in the wrapping of Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s mummy was made with iron from a meteorite, a study confirms.
Daniela Comelli, professor of materials science at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy,An analyzed the dagger and results showed that it contains 10 per cent nickel and 0.6 per cent cobalt.
The dagger dates back to the 14th century BC and is one of very few iron artifacts ever found from the ancient Egyptian culture, which isn’t thought to have developed iron smelting until the 8th century BC.
Earlier iron objects were typically ornamental or ceremonial and made of meteoritic iron that was considered more valuable than gold, the researchers wrote.
It was shaped by hammering, Comelli said. King Tut’s dagger had been suspected to have been made with that type of iron, but it had not been confirmed.
“In this context, the high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun’s dagger blade is evidence of early successful iron smithing in the 14th C. BCE,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
They added that the finding also provides insight into Egyptian descriptions of iron that appeared around 100 years later, which use the term “iron of the sky.”
“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 C. BCE,” the authors wrote.