Many mysteries surround the A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ Egyptians. How did they build the pyramids? Is there a labyrinth buried under the Sphinx? How did King Tut die? An age-old question may have been answered recently, but the answer has led to more questions. That’s because it involves something e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳.
Along with jewelry, weapons and gold, there was a strange item found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb – a dagger. It wouldn’t be such a baffling find except that the knife boasted of technology that wasn’t really seen in Egypt until 500 years after Tut’s de̳a̳t̳h̳. The dagger didn’t rust and it was made of iron, something the Egyptians didn’t discover until centuries later. So where did the dagger come from? Now, scientists think the metal in it came from space.
The Journal of Meteoritics and Planetary Science published an article by researchers at the Chiba Institute of Technology claiming the dagger’s metal came from a meteorite. They explain that iron shows a high ratio of nickel to cobalt, which “strongly suggests an e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ origin.”
It turns out that a meteorite hit the planet a little before Tut’s time, landed about 150 miles from Alexandria and contained similar levels of cobalt and nickel.
Scientists may also have solved another mystery about daggers. After X-raying the gold handle, they found it was made of a binding material called lime mortar, but again, the Egyptians didn’t know about plaster until much later. However, based on how the handle was made, using foreign low-temperature techniques, they suggest it could have been made in Mitanni, Anatolia, present-day Türkiye.
There are records that show Tut’s grandfather, Amenhotep III, would receive gifts from the King of Mitanni, and those gifts might have eventually been passed down to Tut, meaning that the dagger actually came from Anatolia years before Tut was even born.
You can see the dagger on display at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.