Extraterrestrial Elements in Egyptian Equipment
Bible and archaeology news
Noah Wiener • 05/31/2013
A CT scan of an iron bead from the Gerzeh cemetery reveals oxide and metal components. Image: Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
Where did Egyptians get the iron found in beads in a fourth-millennium-B.C.E. cache at the Gerzeh cemetery? Scholars have long been mystified by the discovery, which predates evidence of iron smelting in the region by thousands of years. Archaeologists have searched the dirt for evidence of early (and possibly accidental) smelting sites, but a new study in Meteoritics & Planetary Science suggests that they should have been looking up, rather than down, for answers.
A research team led by Open University meteorite scientist Diane Johnson examined the nickel content and crystalline structure of one of the beads to confirm that the iron came from a meteorite. The team was able to reconstruct the way the ancient Egyptians worked the material: “Successive virtual CT slices revealed bending points and a joining edge, suggesting production by beating flat a fragment of iron, followed by bending to produce the tube.”
While there is no confirmed evidence of iron smelting in the region before Greco-Roman times, the presence of iron objects in royal tombs reveals that they were a symbol of status in earlier periods of Egyptian history. The Egyptians themselves appear to have been aware of the otherworldly source of their iron. The authors of the study write that “from the late 18th Dynasty, approximately 1300 BCE, the term biA-n-ptstarts to be used, which literally reads iron from the sky and from this point onwards … the term becoming synonymous with metallic iron in general.”