I bet you wish you had a dagger made from a meteor

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The iron dagger, Daniela Comelli

So, King Tutankhamen had a very cool set of daggers interred with him in his tomb. One is particularly interesting if you like meteors. (A friend of mine and his wife have matching meteor wedding rings, cool, eh?) So researchers set to finding out more about this non-rusting iron bladed dagger.

They used X-rays to analyze the chemical signatures of the knife and found that it has high percentages of nickel, as well as traces of cobalt, phosphorous, and other materials that together suggest the knife’s origins are extraterrestrial, Gizmodo reports.

The chemical makeup of the dagger points to one meteorite in particular, named Kharga. In 2000, fragments of this meteorite were found on a limestone plateau about 150 miles west of Alexandria.

“Kharga turned out to have nickel and cobalt contents which are possibly consistent with the composition of the blade,” lead author Daniela Comelli, at the department of Physics of Milan Polytechnic said.

Here’s the Abstract and a passage from the scholarly work, “The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun’s iron dagger blade” uploaded on Meteoritics & Planetary Science

“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.”

Of the rare surviving examples of iron objects from ancient Egyptian culture, the most famous is the dagger from the tomb of the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun. The history of King Tutankhamun (18th dynasty, 14th C. BCE) has fascinated scientists and the general public since the discovery of his spectacular tomb in 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter (Carter and Mace 1923-1927-1933). In 1925, Carter found two daggers in the wrapping of the mummy: one on the right thigh with a blade of iron (Fig. 1) and the other on the abdomen with a blade of gold (Carter and Mace 1923-1927-1933). The former (Carter no. 256K, JE 61585) is the object of our study. The dagger has a finely manufactured blade, made of nonrusted, apparently homogeneous metal (Fig. 2). Its handle is made of fine gold, is decorated with cloisonné and granulation work, and ends with a pommel of rock crystal (Feldman 2006; Zaki 2008). Its gold sheath is decorated with a floral lily motif on one side and with a feathers pattern on the other side, terminating with a jackal’s head.1