A team of Egyptian and Italian researchers has confirmed that the iron dagger found in the mummified remains of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was created from meteoric material, suggesting extraterrestrial origins.
Scientists have long theorized that King Tut's blade is of extraterrestrial origins, and now, the new study confirmed this through X-ray fluorescence spectrometry.
The results revealed that the dagger is composed mainly of iron and nickel with minor traces of cobalt, just like other iron-based meteorites.
"The nickel and cobalt ratio in the dagger blade is consistent with that of iron meteorites that have preserved the primitive chondritic ratio during planetary differentiation in the early solar system," said Daniela Comelli of Polytechnic University of Milan and lead researcher of the study.
The dagger, along with small beads from Gerzeh, Egypt, that also look to be composed of meteoric metal, suggests that people from King Tut's time period appreciated space rocks for use in ceremonial objects.
"The study confirms that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of precious objects, and the high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun's dagger blade is evidence of significant mastery of ironworking already in Tutankhamun's time," the team said.
"In this context, the high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun's dagger blade is evidence of early successful iron smithing in the 14th C. BCE," the paper reads.
In addition to the discovery of meteorite-based objects stemming from Egyptian culture, the ancients used to use the phrase "iron of the sky," suggesting that they had an understanding of where the metal came from.
"The introduction of the new composite term suggests that the ancient Egyptians, in the wake of other ancient people of the Mediterranean area, were aware that these rare chunks of iron fell from the sky already in the 13th C. BCE, anticipating Western culture by more than two millennia," the paper reads.
The extraterrestrial dagger was found back in 1925 with King Tut's mummy, three years after the discovery of the pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
In addition to its iron blade, it possessed a decorated gold sheath and handle capped with a crystal.
The findings were published in the May 20 issue of the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.