New Analysis Proves Most If Not All Bronze Age Iron Came From Space
A new French study suggests that all iron tools from the Bronze Age, including King Tutankhamun's dagger, have extraterrestrial roots.
Bronze Age Iron Objects Have “Alien” Roots
When an X-ray analysis of King Tutankhamun’s dagger almost a year ago showed that the iron in the ancient legendary blade came from meteorites, many people were impressed with the extraterrestrial material used to create one of the most epic weapons in history. However, a new French study may disappoint you, as it has found that the legendary dagger of King Tutankhamun is not all that special, as most (if not all) iron tools from the Bronze Age most likely have unearthly roots as well.
According to New Atlas , Albert Jambon from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France conducted chemical analyses of several Bronze Age samples and concluded that iron used during the Bronze Age is always meteoric. Along with King Tut's dagger, Jambon examined a bracelet and headrest belonging to the Egyptian king in 1350 BC, axes from Syria and China dating back to about 1400 BC, a Syrian pendant from 2300 BC, a Turkish dagger from 2500 BC, and beads from Gerzeh, Egypt, which stretch right back to 3200 BC, just after the Bronze Age began.
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Bronze Age swords and other artifacts in the Nationalmuseet (National Museum) in Copenhagen, Denmark. ( Simon Burchell/CC BY SA 3.0 )
The Controversy About the Origin of Bronze Age Iron is Over
There has been a long-term controversy within scientific circles about the origin of Bronze Age iron - that it could be either meteoritic or smelted iron. Many experts suggested that iron tools from that period were created from meteorites, which would have set down the metal in an already-workable state on the Earth's surface. That theory appeared to be logical as it explained the heavy presence of iron in objects before advanced smelting techniques had been developed. However, the problem was that they couldn’t prove it scientifically until recently.
For that reason, Jambon decided to approach the issue geochemically with the use of a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which permits one to differentiate terrestrial from extraterrestrial irons without damaging the object. As New Atlas reports , iron meteorites often contain higher levels of nickel and cobalt than Earthly iron due to the tendency for nickel to drift towards the molten core of a planet. The few iron objects from the Bronze Age that were analyzed were found to have been created from meteoritic iron, as they had high levels of nickel and cobalt that lined up with those seen in iron meteorites.
The Hoba meteorite is the largest known meteorite found on Earth, as well as the largest naturally-occurring mass of iron known to exist on the earth. The meteorite, named after the Hoba West Farm in Grootfontein, Namibia where it was discovered in 1920, has not been moved since it landed on Earth over 80,000 years ago. (Public Domain )
Smelting Ended the Bronze Age Extraterrestrial Era
Jambon also explained that this practice was abandoned during the Iron Age, when smelting became popular and people turned to working with terrestrial iron rocks, which were far more abundant and easier to find as New Atlas reports . Additionally, Jambon suggests that the new study opens the door of tracking when and where exactly the first smelting operations took place, marking a new era. He also noted the immense significance of analytical methods for properly studying the evolution of the use of metals and metal working technologies in our past cultures.
Early Bronze Age ('Beaker') metal-worker about 2000 BC; by Paul Jenkins, about 1980. ( National Museum Wales )
The Precious Dagger of Tutankhamun
Almost 18 months ago, a team of researchers confirmed that the iron in one of the daggers found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as a number of other precious artifacts from ancient Egypt, had celestial origins as they were made from meteorites.
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Just a small selection of the thousands of treasures found hastily stacked inside King Tut’s burial chamber. ( Public Domain )
As Ancient Origins reported at that time , archaeologists were really excited with that discovery as they had suspected – but couldn’t prove it scientifically – for many decades that the iron used during the reign of the New Kingdom Dynasties and earlier could have come from meteorites. They were excited to announce that the meteoric iron in the blade of the knife from Tutankhamun's tomb came from one of the many meteorites that has fallen in the desert, making it one of the most important discoveries in 2016.
However, just a year later this new study has come to prove this artifact to be less remarkable than they thought, as King Tutankhamun's dagger is just one of many iron tools from that era that have otherworldly origins.
The study by Albert Jambon was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science .
Top Image: A new study has found that all iron tools from the Bronze Age, including King Tutankhamun's dagger, were made from meteoric metal. ( Source: University of Pisa )