King Tutankhamun’s Dagger Was Literally Out Of This World

Often scientific papers have rather plain, jargon-heavy titles, but every now and then, one appears and proves to be a glorious exception to this. Step forward, the latest study in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science, which now features a paper entitled “The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun’s iron dagger blade.” That’s right: King Tut had a space dagger.

The boy pharaoh, who ruled Ancient Egypt between the years 1332 and 1323 BCE, was hidden away in his tomb until its excavation in 1922, along with this highly ornamental blade. A team of Italian and Egyptian researchers’ cutting-edge X-ray analysis reveals that it is mostly composed of iron, along with smaller amounts of nickel and cobalt. This unique elemental composition indicates that it was built using material from one of the oldest objects in the Solar System: an iron meteorite.

This meteorite dagger is not only ludicrously beautiful – indicating that some remarkable craftsmanship went into making it – but it is yet another piece of rarified evidence that the Ancient Egyptians placed great importance on forging ornaments from meteoric iron long before the dawn of the Iron Age. In fact, this meteoritic reverence may be why a composite hieroglyphic term began appearing on tablets at roughly the same time: “iron of the sky.”