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The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade

An international research team (Politecnico di Milano, Università di Pisa, Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Italian National Research Council, University of Fayoum, Politecnico di Torino, XGLab Italian company) documents the meteoritic origin of the iron of the dagger blade belonging to the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun (14th cent. BCE). This solves a longstanding heated debate among scholars since its discovery in the wrapping of the king's mummy in 1925, by archaeologist Howard Carter.

The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade
This exquisitely decorated golden dagger found inside the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun has been found to have a blade 
made from iron that came from a meteorite. Researchers have discovered it has levels of cobalt, nickel and phosphorus 
that match the chemical composition of a meteorite found in Egypt in 2000 [Credit: Università di Pisa]
As reported in a paper published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, geochemical analysis performed in December 2014 through non-invasive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry reveals that the iron dagger blade, today on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, contains nickel (10 wt%) and cobalt (0.6 wt%) in concentrations characteristically observed in iron meteorites.

The study confirms that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of precious objects, and the high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun’s dagger blade is evidence of significant mastery of ironworking already in Tutankhamun’s time.

Massimo D'Orazio and Luigi Folco, professors at the Earth Sciences Department of the University of Pisa, contributed to the research, which was funded by the Italian Ministry of the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Egyptian Ministry of the Scientific Research. Professors D'Orazio and Folco coordinate the Pisa University meteorite research group, which is an international point of reference in the field of meteoritics and planetary sciences.

Source: Università di Pisa [June 01, 2016]

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