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A Dagger Found in King Tut’s Wrappings Was Forged from a Meteorite

Looks like a good knife.

Ninety-one years ago, Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who found Tutankhamun’s tomb, discovered a dagger on the mummified boy king’s side, clothed in the wrappings that surrounded his body. 

At first glance, the blade, above, doesn’t appear special. But archaeologists have thought it might be because it was forged from iron, a material that was rare in King Tut’s era of Egypt, largely because it would be centuries before the civilization developed iron smelting. 

Tutankhamun’s golden mask. (Photo: Carsten Frenzi/CC BY 2.0)

So where did this iron come from? Likely, according to the CBC, from a meteorite. Iron from meteorites was highly prized in the ancient world, even more so than gold, so it makes some sense that in addition to all the other lavish trappings of Tutankhamun’s tomb, a fancy dagger would be included as an accessory. 

Archaeologists had long suspected the blade was made from a meteorite, but recently, an Italian professor offered more confirmation. Using X-rays, the professor found that the blade had very similar levels of cobalt and nickel to 11 other iron meteorites that have fallen from space.

Tutankhamun died in the 14th Century B.C.; writings found by archaeologists from a century after that refer to iron simply as “iron of the sky.”