|Analysis of a dagger found within Tutankhamun's sarcophagus has found the blade was made of iron from a meteorite. The dagger has a finely embossed gold handle with a crystal pommel. It was encased within a golden sheath decorated with a floral motif, feather patterns and a jackal's head.|
The blade contained high levels of nickel, along with traces of cobalt and phosphorus. Researchers were able to match the chemical composition to a meteorite which was found in 2000 on the Maras Matruh plateau in Egypt, 150 miles west of Alexandria.
|Ancient Egyptian royal archives from 1,400BC mention royal gifts of iron in the period immediately before Tutankhamun's reign. Tushratta, King of Mitanni – a kingdom in northern Syria and Anatolia – sent iron objects to Amenhotep III, the grandfather of Tutankhamun.|
|The high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun's dagger blade suggests a mastery of iron-working in his time. The 13 inch long (34.2cm) dagger was found lying beside the right thigh of King Tutankhamun's mummy. |
Studies suggest the ancient Egyptians believed iron from meteorites had magical powers that could usher souls into the afterlife. To the ancient Egyptians, meteorite finds were gifts from the gods.
Kamil crater in southern Egypt
| Egyptians considered the sky divine, so anything that fell from it would have been seen as a gift from the gods – if not a physical piece of one. They believed that the gods had bones made of iron. (as well as having flesh of gold, skin of silver and hair of lapis lazuli) |
There’s no evidence of iron smelting in the region until nearly 1000 years later, so there is no argument over where the metal came from.