Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Ancient Egyptians accessorized with meteorites
by Staff Writers
Manchester, UK (SPX) Jun 03, 2013

The Gerzeh bead is the earliest discovered use of iron by the ancient Egyptians. Credit: Manchester Museum.

Researchers at The Open University (OU) and The University of Manchester have found conclusive proof that Ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make symbolic accessories.

The evidence comes from strings of iron beads which were excavated in 1911 at the Gerzeh cemetery, a burial site approximately 70km south of Cairo. Dating from 3350 to 3600BC, thousands of years before Egypt's Iron Age, the bead analysed was originally assumed to be from a meteorite owing to its composition of nickel-rich iron.

But this hypothesis was challenged in the 1980s when academics proposed that much of the early worldwide examples of iron use originally thought to be of meteorite-origin were actually early smelting attempts.

Subsequently, the Gerzeh bead, still the earliest discovered use of iron by the Egyptians, was loaned by the Manchester Museum to the OU and the University of Manchester's School of Materials for further testing. Researchers used a combination of the OU's electron microscope and Manchester's X-Ray CT scanner to demonstrate that the nickel-rich chemical composition of the bead confirms its meteorite origins.

OU Project Officer Diane Johnson, who led the study, said: "This research highlights the application of modern technology to ancient materials not only to understand meteorites better but also to help us understand what ancient cultures considered these materials to be and the importance they placed upon them."

Meteorite iron had profound implications for the Ancient Egyptians, both in their perception of the iron in the context of its celestial origin and in early metallurgy attempts.

Co-author Dr Joyce Tyldesley, a Senior Lecturer in Egyptology at The University of Manchester, said: "Today, we see iron first and foremost as a practical, rather dull metal. To the ancient Egyptians, however, it was a rare and beautiful material which, as it fell from the sky, surely had some magical/religious properties.

"They therefore used this remarkable metal to create small objects of beauty and religious significance which were so important to them that they chose to include them in their graves."

Philip Withers, Professor of Materials Science at The University of Manchester, added: "Meteorites have a unique microstructural and chemical fingerprint because they cooled incredibly slowly as they travelled through space. It was really interesting to find that fingerprint turn up in Egyptian artefacts."

The paper, 'Analysis of a prehistoric Egyptian iron bead with implications for the use and perception of meteorite iron in ancient Egypt,' is published in the Meteoritics and Planetary Science journal.


Related Links
University of Manchester
Asteroid and Comet Impact Danger To Earth - News and Science

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Water on moon, Earth came from same primitive meteorites
Cleveland OH (SPX) May 13, 2013
The water found on the moon, like that on Earth, came from small meteorites called carbonaceous chondrites in the first 100 million years or so after the solar system formed, researchers from Brown and Case Western Reserve universities and Carnegie Institution of Washington have found. Evidence discovered within samples of moon dust returned by lunar crews of Apollo 15 and 17 dispels the t ... read more

NASA's GRAIL Mission Solves Mystery of Moon's Surface Gravity

Moon dust samples missing for 40 years found in Calif. warehouse

Unusual minerals in moon craters may have been delivered from space

Moon being pushed away from Earth faster than ever

Leicester Scientist Helps Discover Ancient Streambed On Mars

10 years on, Europe salutes its Martian scout

War Of The Worlds: Looking Back on the Martian Apocalypse

Rounded Stones on Mars Evidence of Flowing Water

A certain level of stress is necessary

Northrop Grumman-Built Modular Space Vehicle Nears Completion of Manufacturing Phase

French government posts space counsellor in Bangalore

3D Printing: Food in Space

Shenzhou-10 spacecraft to be launched in mid-June

Sizing Up Shenzhou 10

Rollout for Shenzhou 10

Soft Pedal for Shenzhou 10

International trio takes shortcut to space station

Science and Maintenance for Station Crew, New Crew Members Prep for Launch

ESA Euronews: Living in space

Next destination: space

Rocket Engine Maker Proton-PM to Invest in New Products

Russia Launches European Telecoms Satellite

Ariane poised to launch first 20 ton payload into orbit

SES-6 Proton Breeze M Scheduled For Launch Monday

Big Weather on Hot Jupiters

Critical Kepler Reaction Wheel Fails: Mission End In Sight

Sifting Through the Atmosphere's of Far-Off Worlds

New Method of Finding Planets Scores its First Discovery

Radiation Exposure Associated with a Trip to Mars Calculated

After factory shutdown, Italian workers 'recycle' jobs

Radiation Measured by Curiosity During Mars Trip Has Implications for Human Missions

NASA, Researchers Use Weightlessness of Space to Design Better Materials for Earth

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement