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Ancient Egyptians Made Iron Jewelry From Pieces of Meteorite, Archaeologists Say 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the star-metal dept.
fangmcgee writes "Researchers at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London have found that a collection of ancient jewelry is out of this world. The 5,000-year-old Egyptian beads, previously thought to be made from iron from Earth have been found to be made from hammered pieces of meteorite. Strung together with gold, gemstones, and other minerals, the beads pre-date iron smelting, showcasing the metalworking mastery of fourth millennium B.C. Egyptians."
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Ancient Egyptians Made Iron Jewelry From Pieces of Meteorite, Archaeologists Say

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @05:45AM (#44640589)

    "The meteorite collided with Earth nearly 10,000 years ago. The iron masses were known to Inuit as Ahnighito (the Tent), weighing 31 metric tons (31 long tons; 34 short tons); the Woman, weighing 3 metric tons (3.0 long tons; 3.3 short tons); and the Dog, weighing 400 kilograms (880 lb). For centuries, Inuit living near the meteorites used them as a source of metal for tools and harpoons. The Inuit would work the metal using cold forging--that is by stamping and hammering it."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_York_meteorite

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @05:53AM (#44640613)

    This reminds me of a story from some time ago- some colored glass in Tutankhamun's jewelry may have been from meteor strikes. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5196362.stm

    • I have read elsewhere that some ancient cultures knew of iron primarily from meteorites.

    • by sd4f (1891894)
      I heard that he had a steel ankh which is, at the time, the most valuable thing in his tomb.
      • It's bordering nitpick, but iron != steel.

        • by sd4f (1891894)
          As a mechanical engineer, i know steel isn't that same as iron, but that's what I heard, steel. The importance behind it was that it was early days in steel making. Iron is one thing, making steel is a lot better.
    • by lxs (131946)

      What they are not telling you is that it was a meteor strike on Mars and that the meteor pieces were a bribe by alien builders to get the pyramid contract.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:05AM (#44640633)
    I bet that the Sumerian fanboys are fuming now. Suck it up, boys! Egypt forever!
  • Is this an example of the latest we used meteoritic iron before learning to smelt it, the earliest example of melting a rock down for something better than copper, or just something in between?

  • by Traiano (1044954) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:00AM (#44640805)
    For years I have been telling everyone that aliens built the pyramids. Now we have proof from the extraterrestrial pieces they left behind. Who's the crazy one now?!
    • You didn't hear? They recently translated a heiroglyph that reads: "Ahepmoset's Limestone - You need blocks? We've got them." Turns out the pyramids were nothing more than Ahepmoset's warehouse.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:02AM (#44641063) Journal
    The metal working mastery consisted of basically heating the damn thing and beating the hell out of it with a hammer. Finding iron ore, smelting it down and extracting the metal are the difficult thing to do. Once you have the metal, beating it into shape is no big deal. For example the legendary Viking swords +Ulfberht [wikipedia.org] were made by the Vikings by importing high carbon steel from the Middle East via the Volga trade routes. (Of course, the Viking might have discovered and then lost the technology to produce high carbon steel, but the facts Viking were trading with Middle East via Volga, and the Middle East was making high carbon Wootz steels by that time lends credence to this theory).

    Making the metal from ore require mastery, making non load bearing artifacts out of metal requires just muscle.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The metal working mastery consisted of basically heating the damn thing and beating the hell out of it with a hammer.

      That's called "smithing".

      Once you have the metal, beating it into shape is no big deal.

      Obviously you have never been at a forge before. I took a blacksmithing workshop in college and it's not quite as simple as you portray it. It's more than heating and beating, you have to get it the right shade of red, know when to put it back in the fire, know how to make coke out of coal (actually that pa

      • For an individual, yes, smithing is very hard. I think we had smithy in my third semester, I think and probably made a C. For a society? Smithy does not require great flights of imagination or crucial insight. People have been making stone tools for 2 million years, fire for half a million years, constantly looking to harden stone/wood/bone tools by charring them in fire etc. So they would have noticed, unlike flint, the meteorite rock bends, but it could be beaten into a sharp edge repeatedly.

        On the oth

    • Making the metal from ore require mastery, making non load bearing artifacts out of metal requires just muscle.

      I take it then you've never actually done any cold forging?

  • hmmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @09:47AM (#44641899)
    So does anyone know what the stat bonus was on one of those necklaces? I'm thinking it would have a defensive buff but it could also be added damage as radiation to all weapon strikes.
  • I'm sure we'll see an episode about this on Discovery soon....
  • Ancient Egyptians had help from aliens when they built the Pyramids... Its only natural they would make jewelry from space rocks. Duh!

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