King Tutankhamon's dagger was supposedly made from an iron meteorite

Tutankhamon was Akhenaten's son, and he has risen to the throne at the age of 8 or 9. Considering what has transpired in Egypt, he wasn't a particularly crucial pharaoh, but the treasures discovered in his tomb in the 1920s helped to make him famous.


Thus becoming part of a global touring expo that received widespread coverage in the international press, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s.


Amongst over 5,000 artifacts recovered from Tut's tomb were 19 iron items, which included the dagger with its gold hilt.

King Tutankhamon's dagger with its golden hilt.

Experts claim that the iron for the dagger's blade came from a meteorite because of its high nickel substance. This was proven in 2016 when the blade's structure was analyzed using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. The blade is mostly iron, with 11% nickel and 0.6 percent cobalt—a ratio similar to iron meteorites. In comparison, the nickel composition of artifacts made from terrestrial iron ore is never greater than 4%.


The 2016 study, regrettably, did not address what kind of meteorite provided the iron or how the dagger was created. There is no historical proof of iron smelting in Egypt till the 6th century BCE, and the oldest recorded Egyptian usage of metallic iron dates to around 3400 BCE.


The origins of the dagger are also unknown. The dagger, in contrast to the other iron artifacts discovered in Tut's tomb, had been crafted expertly. Diplomatic communication written in Akkadian and preserved in the Egyptian royal archives known as the Amarna letters provides documented proof of a foreign origin. A series of presents sent to Amenhotep III by Mitanni's king is mentioned in the letters. A dagger with an iron blade and a gold hilt with lapis lazuli inlays is among those on the list.


Co-author Takafumi Matsui and his colleagues at Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology sought to address questions like these with the assistance of the Grand Egyptian Museum's conservation center. In February 2020, they went to the Cairo Museum.


Matsui, et al. captured a high-resolution optical picture of the dagger. They had used a versatile scanning X-ray fluorescence device to determine the elemental proportions of the dagger, gold hilt, and gold sheath, as well as the distribution of the elements across the blade. This indicated iron, nickel, and cobalt levels, as well as manganese. The blade had a few blackened spots that comprised with sulfur, chlorine, calcium, and zinc.

King Tutankhamon - Pharaoh of Egypt.

The dispersion of the components on the blade confirmed to be the most intriguing aspect. They exhibited a distinctive cross-hatched finish known as a "Widmanstätten pattern," which is characteristic of an octahedrite, the majority of iron meteorites. This was affirmed when the pattern on the dagger was compared to that of a Japanese meteorite of same type. Small black patches of iron sulfide can also be found in octahedrites.


According to the authors, the low sulfur content of the black patches and the Widmanstätten pattern provide conclusive proof that King Tut's dagger was crafted at a relatively low temperature of less than 950° C.


The Amarna letters given a powerful hint that the dagger was a wedding gift from the king of Mitanni to Amenhotep III. This was supported by the discovery that the gems in the gold hilt had been glued with lime plaster. Despite the fact that lime plaster was widely used in Mitanni at the time, Egyptians favored gypsum plaster.

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