Manchester Meteorites solve Egyptian mystery

This amazing research on our collections solves an enduring mystery:

Iron in Egyptian relics came from space

Meteorite impacts thousands of years ago may have helped to inspire ancient religion.

The Gerzeh bead (top) has nickel-rich areas, coloured blue on a virtual model (bottom), that indicate a meteoritic origin.

Open Univ./Univ. Manchester

The 5,000-year-old iron bead might not look like much, but it hides a spectacular past: researchers have found that the ancient Egyptian trinket is made from a meteorite.

The result, published on 20 May in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science1, explains how ancient Egyptians obtained iron millennia before the earliest evidence of iron smelting in the region, solving an enduring mystery. It also hints that the ancient Egyptians regarded meteorites highly as they began to develop their religion.

“The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians,” says Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, UK, and a co-author on the paper. “Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods.”

Read the whole article here.

Find out more about Egypt on Campbell’s blog.

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