King Tutankhamun had a dagger of meteoritic origin. Yet another reason to bring the famous (but long-gone) king of Egypt to the spotlight!
Documented in a paper entitled “The Meteoritic Origin of Tutankhamun’s Iron Dagger Blade“, the findings make an expose of how King Tut, the boy pharaoh, had a meteorite dagger.
King Tutankhamun is said to have ruled Ancient Egypt around 1332 to 1323 BCE. His tomb has captured the attention of researchers ever since it was discovered back in 1922; the contents thereof have been put under scrutiny time and time again by experts, and the recent work is just one example of the numerous endeavours pertaining to King Tut’s life.
The ornamental blade has been analysed by a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers led by Daniela Comelli from Milan Polytechnic, who made use of X-ray analysis (a new technique known as X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy) to determine the composition of the dagger. The results show that it consists of iron, nickel, and cobalt: this indicates that the dagger is made from material from an iron meteorite, one of the oldest objects in our solar system.
X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy is meant to energetically excite compounds in the material being tested. The latter would re-emit radiation in varying wavelengths with respect to the different elements it contains; this is what allows researchers to determine its elemental composition without having to use invasive methods.
Once the team confirmed the dagger was of meteoritic origin, they looked into historical records of meteorite impacts in the region (within 2,000 kilometres). Their investigation suggests that the Kharga meteorite that was found in the year 2000 in Mersa Matruh found west of Alexandria might have been the one. The researchers suggest that the Egyptians from King Tut’s world would have seen the meteorite fall, and that they went to retrieve it.
This new information also supports other evidence that suggests Ancient Egyptians were much into making ornaments using meteoric iron much before Iron Age. The authors explain that these people might have been aware that this rare iron came from the sky because of a hieroglyphic term (“iron of the sky”) that appeared at approximately that time; they would have thus preceded “Western culture by more than two millennia”, write the authors.