King Tutankhamun was entombed with an ornate knife made with iron that came from a meteorite, scientists have confirmed.
The dagger was one of two found tucked in the bandages of ancient Egypt’s most famous pharaoh.
Archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the weapons – one with a blade of gold and an iron dagger boasting a gold handle, rock crystal pommel and jackal-decorated sheath, in the boy king’s tomb alongside his mummified body in 1925.
The iron dagger has intrigued scientists for decades given that ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt and that it has not rusted.
Frustratingly, analysis of the dagger – and the other iron objects discovered in the tomb which include miniature iron blades, a miniature headrest and a bracelet – had thus far been inconclusive.
But now writing in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, researchers used an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer to determine that the bulk composition of the dagger “strongly suggests an extra-terrestrial origin.”
The study also notes that ancient Egyptian texts contained hieroglyphics which translated as “iron of the sky”, backing up the discovery.
Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley, of the University of Manchester believes the ancient Egyptians may have revered such items.
In 2013 she told Nature: “The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians. Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods.”
This would explain why such a precious item was buried with Tutankhamun, who died at the age of just 19.
Meteorite scientist Diane Johnson from the Open University in Milton Keynes, added: “Iron was very strongly associated with royalty and power.”
It is thought such celestial objects were believed to aid their deceased owners with “priority passage into the afterlife.”
Meteorites are fragments of rock or iron from outer space, usually a meteoroid or asteroid, which survives passage through the atmosphere as a meteor to impact the surface of the Earth.
They are believed to originate in the asteroid belt between the planets of Mars and Jupiter.
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