Possible Origin Of King Tut’s Dagger Made From Alien Metal Revealed

One of the most astounding discoveries in Tutankhamun’s tomb was a 34-centimeter long dagger made of iron and decorated with gold. The dagger had been discovered during the 1925 unwrapping of the mummy. But the age of the burial – Tutankhamun was pharaoh from 1332 to 1323 BCE – predated Egypt’s Iron Age by more than 2000 years.

A preliminary non-destructive analysis performed in 1970 with X-rays showed high levels of nickel, suggesting that the dagger was made from extraterrestrial metal. In addition, the quality of the blade indicates that it was made using a type of fine-crystallized metal as found in some types of meteorites.

Before the development of high-temperature-furnaces, meteorites were the only source of native iron accessible to early civilizations. Unable to fuse or melt the metal, the ancient blacksmiths hammered the pieces of meteoritic iron into shape.

But the origin of the meteorite used for King Tut’s dagger remained a mystery. In June 2016, a paper compared the blade to an iron meteorite with similar proportions of iron, nickel and cobalt discovered near and named after Kharga Oasis. The dagger’s metal was presumably from the same meteor shower. But some researchers noted that the chemical fingerprint didn’t match exactly.

A new study published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science by researchers from Japan and Egypt suggests an alternative origin and locality. Chemical analysis shows a high concentration of iron, nickel, manganese and traces of sulfur. This is consistent with meteoritic metal. The study also confirms the existence of Widmanstätten patterns on the blade, a unique pattern of intergrown metallic minerals found only in meteorites. The research concludes that the metal used to make the dagger comes from an octahedrite meteorite, the most common class of iron meteorites.

The new chemical analysis alone doesn’t provide clues where this meteorite originated. However, letters preserved on clay tablets found in Upper Egypt at el-Amarna, and dated to the New Kingdom between 1360–1332 BCE coinciding with Tutankhamun’s birth, describe an iron dagger given as a gift by the King of Mitanni – what is now Syria – to Egypt.

It is not entirely clear if the ancient Egyptians knew of the extraterrestrial origin of the used metal. Texts dating to 1300 BCE refer to iron as a gift “from the sky,” but this might be symbolic speech, describing the rare and precious metal as a gift from the gods and so of heavenly origin.


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