Space jewellery: The Egyptians did it first

Analysis of an ancient Egyptian bead necklace has revealed that the oldest known iron artefact is not made from plain and simple earth iron. The ornamental rocks have a more distant origin: Space.

Researchers at the University College of London’s Petrie Museum have confirmed that the necklace beads, found in a 5,000-year-old tomb in 1911, are made of meteorite iron, LiveScience reports.

Even one hundred years ago scientists had a feeling there was something extraterrestrial about the rocks when lab analysis showed very high nickel concentrations – a characteristic of iron meteorite.

From The Meteoritical Society

Now, with the use of modern-day x-ray technology, researchers have confirmed the presence of of three other elements – cobalt, phosphorous and germanium. Space is the only place you can find these in such high concentrations.

“We had assumed this was the case for 100 years,” Thilo Rehren, the study’s lead author told LiveScience. “But it’s nice to be able to put an exclamation mark on the label, rather than a question mark.”

The artefact, created in 3300 BCE, is also the earliest known use of iron in Egypt – 2,000 years before the iron age. This means that the first time Egyptians ever used the material they didn’t get it from earth.

Featured image from UCL Institute of Archaeology

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