Iron in Egyptian relics came from space
Humans and iron have a mysterious history. Modern smelting technology has made iron ubiquitous, in the form of steel. But there’s no evidence that ancient cultures knew how to purify, and pound otherwise unusable iron ore (relatively common on Earth) into shapable iron metal.
If that’s the case, then how do we explain the 5,000-year-old relic in the photo above? Meteorites! About 6% of meteorites that hit Earth contain iron.
This ancient Egyptian bead is known as the Gerzeh bead. It was found, along with eight others, in a tomb dating to 3,300 BC. Recent X-ray and electron microscope analysis done by the University of Manchester and The Open University have traced its origins to a falling meteorite, thanks to its particular mix of iron and nickel. Such meteoric iron artifacts have also been found in Iran and China.
Can’t make iron? Get it from space!
Interestingly, the word “iron” is thought by some to derive from the Proto-Germanic word isarnan, meaning “holy metal”, which may itself derive from an Etruscan word meaning “gods”. It seems that mankind’s earliest experiences with iron originated in the heavens, and they named it accordingly.
Can you imagine what they would have thought if they found this thing? (that’s the Willamette Meteorite):
(more at Nature News)