Bronze Age iron weapons 'came from outer space', claims new study

Bronze Age iron weapons 'came from outer space', claims new study

A weapon as legendary as the dagger of King Tutankhamun needs an epic backstory, and previous year X-ray analysis showed that the iron in the ancient blade had come from meteorites. Archaeologists had found several Bronze Age artifacts made from meteoric iron, but they didn't know if this was a rare feat or rather a common occurrence. So, the question is from where did those iron weapons and artifacts actually come from?

Jambon performed non-destructive chemical analyses of samples using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer in situ in the museums where the Bronze Age artefacts are now stored. The imaging technology allows for non-destructive scans, important for examining priceless archaeological artifacts. X-ray fluorescence is widely used in metal analysis to determine the elemental and sometimes isotopic composition. The finding has given experts a better insight into how these tools were created before humans worked out how to produce iron from its ore. He was looking to see if the iron artifacts also contained nickel and cobalt, a strong sign that they were of extraterrestrial origin.

Apart from the legendary dagger of King Tutankhamun, the artifacts that Jambon examined included axes that belonged to China and Syria during 1400 BCE, a headrest and a bracelet of King Tutankhamun dating back to around 1350 BCE, a dagger from Turkey dating back to 2500 BCE, a Syrian pendant from the 2300 BCE, and the oldest of all were the beads from Gerzeh in Egypt, which date back straight to 3200 BCE, shortly after the beginning of the Bronze Age. Where was this iron coming from? The Bronze Age followed after the Neolithic and was succeeded by the Iron Age. Though they all came from different places, the levels of nickel and the ratio of iron to cobalt indicated that the metal for each and every one came from space.

The Bronze Age had initiated around 3300 BCE. Albert Jambon, as part of his work at the Institut de minéralogie, de physique des matériaux et de cosmochimie (CNRS / UPMC / IRD / Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle),[1] has demonstrated that iron used during the Bronze Age is always meteoric and he explained how this practice was abandoned during the Iron Age.

Whether the individuals who made the tools knew of the material's origins is impossible to determine. The few iron objects from the Bronze Age sensu stricto that could be analyzed are definitely made of meteoritic iron, suggesting that speculations about precocious smelting during the Bronze Age should be revised. Using this, Jambon could tell from the iron's impurities whether the metal in the relics came from meteorites or was naturally occurring on Earth. But as it sometimes happens, nature provided some people with what they needed (iron) without having to lift a finger - in the form of meteoric iron.

Until the Iron Age, obviously.

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