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

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the star-metal dept.

Science 47

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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Inuit also used iron meteorites (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about a year ago | (#44640609)

What did they make of the baby and his shuttle that came along with the meteorite?

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

r1348 (2567295) | about a year ago | (#44640615)

Dinner.

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44640627)

What did they make of the baby and his shuttle that came along with the meteorite?

Dinner.

So, you're saying he was sealed inside?

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about a year ago | (#44640643)

What did they make of the baby and his shuttle that came along with the meteorite?

Dinner.

So, you're saying he was sealed inside?

One became the utensil, the other...

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

tonyx12 (926628) | about a year ago | (#44641939)

native american superman

Many also used iron meteorites (4, Interesting)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#44640675)

Meteoric iron has been used by 'stone age' peoples all around the world. Identifying these Egyptian beads is neat but hardly a surprise.

Stone age-bronze age-iron age was never intended to imply exclusivity, only what the dominant method of getting the work done was in a given time and place. The iron age is taken to arrive when the technology for extracting telluric iron is well understood and used, the former may have happened long before the latter in areas where a high bronze age culture had developed, and of course meteoric iron doesnt rely on that technology at all so it's completely independent of it. It wouldnt really be a surprise to see meteoric iron objects MUCH earlier than this, except that it's unlikely to be preserved for so long outside of quite rare contexts.

Re:Many also used iron meteorites (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44640731)

Stone age-bronze age-iron age was never intended to imply exclusivity

Are you sure? [youtube.com] .

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44641043)

The Inuit would work the metal using cold forging

You don't say.

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about a year ago | (#44641183)

And cutlery, they made cutlery from the meteorite completely independently from the rest of the world.

18-8 stainless (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | about a year ago | (#44641713)

Meteorite origin, I suppose it had enough nickel to qualify for Stainless and was on the Stone Age bride registry?

Re:Inuit also used iron meteorites (1)

hochl (759409) | about a year ago | (#44642179)

"the Woman, weighing 3 metric tons" Clearly a woman from North America!!!

Bling from the heavens (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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

Re:Bling from the heavens (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year ago | (#44640653)

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

Re:Bling from the heavens (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about a year ago | (#44641189)

I heard that he had a steel ankh which is, at the time, the most valuable thing in his tomb.

Re:Bling from the heavens (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year ago | (#44646161)

It's bordering nitpick, but iron != steel.

Re:Bling from the heavens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44646663)

Steel has accidentally been made ever since we've been working with iron. It's likely to be the origin of super-swords that proved significantly superior to the regular iron ones.

Re:Bling from the heavens (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about a year ago | (#44648497)

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.

Re:Bling from the heavens (2)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44642001)

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.

So far and yet.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640629)

5000 years later they're shooting each other.

Re:So far and yet.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640647)

Yes, 'cause one part of the population wants to stick to idiotic pre-medieval religious rules invented by a pedophile and force others to comply to them, while the other ones wants to leave 2000 years behind.

Re:So far and yet.... (0, Offtopic)

HJED (1304957) | about a year ago | (#44640837)

Yes, 'cause one part of the population wants to stick to idiotic pre-medieval religious rules invented by a pedophile and force others to comply to them, while the other ones wants to leave 2000 years behind.

I think if you did some research you'd find that this is not entirely the case. Furthermore insulting peoples beliefs achieves very little, putting religious differences aside is an important part of achieving a secular society.

Re:So far and yet.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640971)

yet the american-backed military junta was shooting protesters while the biggest robbery of ancient artefacts was going down last week!

end foreign expenditure, stop supporting the criminal juntas like egypt and israel!

Re:So far and yet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44642065)

Insulting peoples beliefs achieves a lot more then tolerating their advancement at controlling the most aspect of our life as possible. [youtube.com]

Just look how Christians know their place now. They hardly harass anyone now, and they use to rule the world, torturing peoples and burning witches. Thanks to heroes, like in the above video, that had the courage to challenge the religious authorities with insults and mockeries. Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, was a paedophile and a violent warlord. This is historical fact. Event the Muslim do not contest that fact. It written black on white in the fucking Quran for fuck's sake. The parent AC is factually correct and you are the bigoted and ignorant one here.

Posting as Coward because replying to troll is bad form.

Re:So far and yet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44642265)

We're not saying the first part was incorrect, just the second.

Yes, 'cause one part of the population wants to stick to idiotic pre-medieval religious rules invented by a pedophile and force others to comply to them, while the other ones wants to leave 2000 years behind.

No, one side has the idiotic pre-medieval religious rules and the other side wants to have the country run by their fascist military junta. Ain't no good guys in this fight.

Re:So far and yet.... (2)

cmarkn (31706) | about a year ago | (#44650425)

This "fascist military junta" is the closest thing to democracy there is in the Arab world. The democratically-elected government they replaced had no intention of allowing anyone else to be elected under their new constitution.

The age-old competition (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44640633)

I bet that the Sumerian fanboys are fuming now. Suck it up, boys! Egypt forever!

Mesopotamia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640679)

Get of my lawn, youngster.

Re:The age-old competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641795)

Hittites rule! That's the denizens of Hattusas, and they rule!

Context??? (1)

Molochi (555357) | about a year ago | (#44640645)

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?

Re:Context??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640663)

according to TFA (its headline, acctually): "Earliest known iron artefacts come from outer space"

TNG: Thine Own Self (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640677)

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

News?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640759)

You call this news?! It happened 5000 years ago!

I haven't search the /. archives, but it is probably a dupe from 2500 years ago too!

Oh, /., you're so slow!

I told you so! (3, Funny)

Traiano (1044954) | about a year ago | (#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?!

Re:I told you so! (2)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44641115)

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.

Stargate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44640839)

Now you've done it. You're gonna set all the Stargate fanboys on fire with this kind of news.

Metal working mastery ... (5, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44641063)

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.

Re:Metal working mastery ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44642537)

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 part is easy), and most importantly how to temper it properly for the use of the object you're creating.

Yes, smelting is harder but smithing is far from trivial (unless you're ok with shoddy goods).

Re:Metal working mastery ... (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44645435)

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 other hand, it boggles my mind how they discovered smelting. Definitely by poking around the remnants of campfires serendipitously started on ore rich ground would have been the starting point. But still that is the difficult part, identifying ore deposits and coming up with a process to make the metal without fully understanding the chemistry, purely by trial and error. That was incredible.

Re:Metal working mastery ... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#44642615)

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?

Re:Metal working mastery ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44645389)

I just saw that documentary last week. Love how they get rid of impurities in a crucible like that. More info for my "prepper" knowledge base LOL

Slow news day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44641589)

Yawn. This has been known for decades. It's only news to Slashdot readers. Try turning off the computer and the TV, read some dead-tree type books once in a while. Not only will you learn things, you will also totally confuse the NSA.

hmmmm (3, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#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.

Giorgio A. Tsoukalos was right all along... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44642733)

THEY'RE ALIENS!

Ancient Aliens (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year ago | (#44643119)

I'm sure we'll see an episode about this on Discovery soon....

Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44643193)

http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/05/30/1344227/iron-in-egyptian-relics-came-from-space

You're welcome.

Of course they did (1)

chinton (151403) | about a year ago | (#44643527)

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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