The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

Original artifacts, written sources, historical art work. Ancient to c.1900.
Open to public view.

The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

Postby Ty N. » 02 Jun 2016 06:34

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced ... maps.12664

The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

First published: 20 May 2016

Abstract

Scholars have long discussed the introduction and spread of iron metallurgy in different civilizations. The sporadic use of iron has been reported in the Eastern Mediterranean area from the late Neolithic period to the Bronze Age. Despite the rare existence of smelted iron, it is generally assumed that early iron objects were produced from meteoritic iron. Nevertheless, the methods of working the metal, its use, and diffusion are contentious issues compromised by lack of detailed analysis. Since its discovery in 1925, the meteoritic origin of the iron dagger blade from the sarcophagus of the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun (14th C. BCE) has been the subject of debate and previous analyses yielded controversial results. We show that the composition of the blade (Fe plus 10.8 wt% Ni and 0.58 wt% Co), accurately determined through portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, strongly supports its meteoritic origin. In agreement with recent results of metallographic analysis of ancient iron artifacts from Gerzeh, our study confirms that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of precious objects. Moreover, the high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun's dagger blade, in comparison with other simple-shaped meteoritic iron artifacts, suggests a significant mastery of ironworking in Tutankhamun's time.

Tutankhamun Iron Dagger.jpg
Tutankhamun Iron Dagger.jpg (30.69 KiB) Viewed 876 times

Ty N.
News Hound
 
Posts: 8580
Joined: 15 Mar 2006 15:31

Re: The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

Postby MattS » 02 Jun 2016 14:56

Very interesting!

The Egyptians have a history of working with meteoric iron as back as the Pre-Dynastic area.

Whilst it's not strictly weapon's related this is an interesting article on meteoric iron used to make beads in the Naqada II period (3500-3400 BCE):
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 0313002057

I suspect that is the 'analysis of ancient iron artifacts from Gerzeh' mentioned in the article about the dagger, as the beads were found in Gerzeh tomb 67.

Those beads, along with a modern day replica of them made as a part of a PHD research paper, are on display in the Petrie Museum in London. The replica one is a very nice blue colour, which actually reminded me of the blues used on armours and swords in more recent times. For those not near London, you can also find more about them in the Petrie's catalogue: http://petriecat.museums.ucl.ac.uk/search.aspx. Their accession numbers are UC10738, UC10739 and UC10740.
User avatar
MattS
Corporal
 
Posts: 53
Joined: 30 Apr 2015 18:09
Location: Surrey, England, UK

Re: The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

Postby Dan Howard » 07 Jun 2016 12:56

I've seen iron ores in Greece that contain similar levels of nickel. If any of these also contain cobalt then the extra terrestrial theory falls over. Right now it is more likely than not that the dagger was made of meteoritic iron but nothing as been confirmed.
User avatar
Dan Howard
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 378
Joined: 25 May 2010 00:53
Location: Maitland, Australia

Re: The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

Postby Dan Howard » 07 Jun 2016 13:01

MattS wrote:Whilst it's not strictly weapon's related this is an interesting article on meteoric iron used to make beads in the Naqada II period (3500-3400 BCE):
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 0313002057

I suspect that is the 'analysis of ancient iron artifacts from Gerzeh' mentioned in the article about the dagger, as the beads were found in Gerzeh tomb 67.


It is false that the presence of nickel is evidence of meteoritic iron. There are terrestrial examples of both raw iron containing nickel as well as iron ores containing nickel. The Gerzeh beads could have been made from iron produced where basaltic magmas have intruded into carbonaceous sediments. Tut's dagger could have been smelted from one of the nickel bearing lateric ores that have been found in Greece. We have found slag from iron smelting dating before Tut's tomb so we know they were working with smelted iron when Tut's dagger was made.
User avatar
Dan Howard
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 378
Joined: 25 May 2010 00:53
Location: Maitland, Australia


Return to Arms & Armour, History, Militaria, Archaeology, Art

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 1 guest