Ancient Egyptians accessorised with meteorites
Archaeology News Network, 30-05-2013
Researchers at The Open University (OU) and The University of Manchester have found conclusive proof that Ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make symbolic accessories for their dead. The evidence comes from strings of iron beads which were excavated in 1911 at the Gerzeh cemetery, a burial site approximately 70km south of Cairo. Dating from 3350 to 3600 BC, thousands of years before Egypt’s Iron Age, the bead analysed was originally assumed to be from a meteorite owing to its composition of nickel-rich iron. But this hypothesis was challenged in the 1980s when academics proposed that much of the early worldwide examples of iron use originally thought to be of meteorite-origin were actually early smelting attempts.
Subsequently, the Gerzeh bead, still the earliest discovered use of iron by the Egyptians, was loaned by The Manchester Museum to the OU and Manchester’s School of Materials for further testing. Researchers used a combination of the OU’s electron microscope and the University’s X-Ray CT scanner to demonstrate that the nickel-rich chemical composition of the bead confirms its meteorite origins.
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