The iron blade placed in the child kings sarcophagus next to the right thigh of his mummified body was made from a meteorite, according to the team of researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The team carried out an analysis using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and published their results in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
Archaeologist Howard Carter’s study of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 sparked worldwide obsession with the 14th Century BC pharaoh. Three years later, two daggers – one Gold and one iron – were found in the wrapping of the 18th Dynasty mummy.
“Meteoric iron is clearly indicated by the presence of a high percentages of nickel,” Comelli told Discovery News..
The pharaoh’s dagger is comprises of nearly 11 % nickel – almost 3x the amount found in artifacts produced from iron ore quarrying. It also has uncover the fact of cobalt consistent with that of iron meteorites.
The team then took a step further to locate the source of the blade. “We took into consideration all meteorites found within an area of 2,000 kilometers in radius centered in the Red Sea, and we ended up with 20 iron meteorites,” Comelli explained.
“Only one, named Kharga, turned out to have nickel and cobalt contents which are possibly consistent with the composition of the blade,” Associate Professor Comelli said
It was found in 2000 at the Egyptian resort town Mersa Matruh.
The Team said their study revealed new insight into the lives of ancient Egyptian pharaohs and “the evolution of the metal working technologies in the Mediterranean.” The study intimates that the “high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun’s dagger blade is evidence of early successful iron smithing in the 14th C. BCE.”
“As the only two valuable iron artifacts from ancient Egypt so far accurately analyzed are of meteoritic origin, we suggest that ancient Egyptian attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of fine ornamental or ceremonial objects up until the 14th C. BCE,” the team also concluded.
The dagger founded wasn’t the only object from outer space in King Tut’s tomb. An amulet scarab on a necklace found in the Child king Tut’s tomb is believed to be made from silica glass created when another space rock smashed into the Libyan desert and melted the nearby sand.
The high manufacturing quality of King Tutankhamun’s dagger blade, in comparison with other simple-shaped meteoritic iron artifacts, also suggests a significant mastery of iron working during the boy king’s time.
The weapon, now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, features a decorated gold handle and a gold sheath with a floral lily motif on one side and a feather pattern on the other side.