King Tut's dagger was 'made from a meteorite'

Story highlights

  • X-ray spectrometry determines iron dagger came from meteorite
  • Research suggests ancient Egyptians valued "iron from the sky"

(CNN)New research shows that an iron dagger buried with King Tutankhamun was made from a meteorite.

It even suggests the Egyptians knew what they were working with.
    Archaeologists and historians have been fascinated by King Tut's mummified remains and the mysterious objects found in his tomb since their discovery in the 1920s.
    King Tut's knife
    In the past, scientists have claimed that an iron dagger, found along with a gold blade in King Tut's tomb, may have come from meteorites.
    Other ancient Egyptian iron artifacts have also been suspected to be meteoritic, since smelted iron was rarely used.
    But now, researchers from Italy and the Egyptian Museum have used X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to accurately find out what King Tut's knife was made of, according to an article published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
    They found its makeup of iron, nickel and cobalt matched other meteorites in a database, and "strongly suggests its meteoritic origin."
    The authors said the Egyptians knew what they were using.
    "We suggest that ancient Egyptian attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of fine ornamental or ceremonial objects," the article said.
    In fact, the authors say their findings may explain why Egyptians in the 13th Century BCE referred to a new hieroglyph that translates literally into "iron of the sky."
    This, the researchers say, "suggests that the ancient Egyptians, in the wake of other ancient people of the Mediterranean area, were aware that these rare chunks of iron fell from the sky already in the 13th C. BCE, anticipating Western culture by more than two millennia."