Recent studies have confirmed that the dagger blade in the mummy wrapping of the Egyptian King Tutankhamun was not your regular dagger, so to speak. Though the blade was always knowng to be iron, scientists now know this iron wasn’t extracted from earth but belonged to a meteorite.
Daniela Comelli, a professor of materials science at the Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy, showed that 10% of the dagger’s contents were nickel, along with 0.6% cobalt.
The researchers, whose study was published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, conducted the analysis using a technique known as X-ray fluorescence. In this technique, the specific elements within a substance can be found out by determining the characteristic color of light that they show when they get hit with high-energy X-rays.
After comparing the resultant colors that showed the composition of the dagger’s blade was compared with the color of 11 metallic meteorites, they confirmed that the blade was made out of the meteorite due to the striking similarity in the observations.
The dagger was discovered in 1925 by the archaeologist Howard Carter, 3 years after he discovered the boy-king’s mummy. The dagger was found in a wrapping in his right thigh, and had a number of interesting engravings on it.
The gold handle had a pommel of rock crystal and a golden sheath that had a pattern of lilies on one side, a jackal’s head, and feathers on the other side.
Perhaps the most intriguing fact about the dagger is that it was made with such precision usually only found in a smelted dagger, and yet iron smelting wasn’t in practice until the 8th Century. This is what left the scientists scratching their head about the 14th Century artifact. The theory of hammering was the only explanation that the scientists came up with, suggesting that it might have been forged using hammers.