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King Tut's Knife Was Made From A Meteorite

02/06/2016 9:36 AM AEST
Reuters Staff / Reuters
The mask of King Tutankhamun, which was found to have been damaged and glued back together, is seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo January 24, 2015. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo acknowledged on Saturday that one of its greatest treasures, the mask of King Tutankhamun, had been crudely glued back together after being damaged, but insisted the item could be restored to its former glory. The golden mask's beard was detached in August, something the museum had not made public until photographs surfaced on the Internet showing a line of glue around its chin, prompting speculation about the damage and questions over whether Egypt was able to care for its priceless artifacts. REUTERS/Shadi Bushra (EGYPT - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Scientists say an iron knife buried with King Tut is truly out of this world.

The knife was made with iron that came from a meteorite, according to an article in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science published online last month. 

The dagger in question was one of two found in the wrapping of King Tutankhamun's mummified body in 1925 by archaeologist Howard Carter. The first knife has a blade of gold, while the iron dagger has a gold handle, rock crystal pommel and jackal-decorated sheath.

The iron knife has puzzled researchers for 91 years, partially because ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt. Despite being more than 3,300 years old, the iron dagger shows no signs of rust, according to The Guardian.

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Researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo studied the metal makeup of the iron knife using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.

"Meteoric iron is clearly indicated by the presence of a high percentages of nickel," lead researcher Daniela Comelli of Milan Polytechnic told The Telegraph. "The nickel and cobalt ratio in the dagger blade is consistent with that of iron meteorites that have preserved the primitive chondritic ratio during planetary differentiation in the early solar system."

The researchers said they identified the exact meteorite that was the source of metal for the blade. 

Comeli said her team examined all meteorites found within a radius of 2,000 kilometers from the Red Sea. That narrowed the possibilities to 20 iron meteorites. Only one of those had levels of nickel and cobalt similar to Tut’s blade: a meteorite found near Mersa Matruh, Egypt, 16 years ago.

The finding suggests that the ancient Egyptians were aware in the 13th century B.C., about 2,000 years before Western culture, that rare chunks of iron fell from the sky. 

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