It must have been a headscratcher for his subjects: what to get the teenage god/king who has everything for his trip into the everafter? A space dagger, obviously. An article published today in The Guardian has said that a dagger found in the wrapping of Tutankhamun’s mummy has revealed itself to be of extra-terrestrial origin under new analysis techniques. When Howard Carter discovered the Pharaoh’s tomb in 1925 there were two daggers with him: one of gold and one with an iron blade, gold handle, rock crystal pommel and lily and jackal decorated sheath. The latter has always puzzled researchers as ironwork was rare in Ancient Egypt and the metal of the blade has never rusted. Italian and Egyptian researchers analysed the metal with an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (yeah) and found that its chemical composition “strongly suggests an extra-terrestrial origin”.
People have worked with bronze, copper and gold since 4,000 BC but ironwork came much later and was rare in ancient Egypt. Nine blackened iron beads were excavated from a cemetery near the Nile in northern Egypt in 2013 and were found to have been beaten out of meteorite fragments and also a nickel-iron alloy. The beads are far older than the young king, dating to 3,200BC.
“As the only two valuable iron artefacts from ancient Egypt so far accurately analysed are of meteoritic origin,” the team that studied the knife wrote, “we suggest that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of fine ornamental or ceremonial objects”.
They suggested that the findings added meaning to the use of the term “iron” in ancient texts. Around the 13th century BC a term “literally translated as ‘iron of the sky’ came into use … to describe all types of iron”. Egyptologists have suggested that objects falling from the sky would have been considered gifts from the gods
The skill of the workmanship on the blade suggests the Pharaoh had metalworkers at his disposal who were skilled with iron despite the rarity of the metal. This is not the first extra-terrestrial object discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb: in 2006 an Austrian astrochemist proposed that a strange yellow gem fashioned into the shape of a scarab to form part of the King’s burial necklace is actually glass formed in the heat of a meteorite crashing into sand.
It’s exactly this sort of ahead-of-its-time ingenuity mixed with an absorbing mysticism and bad-ass blingery (as well as an obsession with death) that ensures we’re still talking about the Ancient Egyptians thousands of years after they walked the sand.
I mean yeah, Drake’s cool, but does he have a crystal and gold handled, meteorite-iron bladed space dagger? I think not. Jay Z may have Beyoncé (for now…?) but does he have a blast glass scarab necklace? He does not. Thus proving that no matter how hard we try, we will never be as cool as the Ancient Egyptians.