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King Tut's dagger has an out-of-this-world origin

Researchers tease out the secrets of an iron dagger blade found wrapped up with Tutankhamun in the ancient boy king's sarcophagus.

King Tut's tomb may have originally been excavated way back in the 1920s, but the burial area and its contents are still revealing secrets all these years later. An international research team discovered meteoric iron in the blade of a dagger found interred with young Tutankhamun, Egypt's most famous ancient ruler.

Milan Polytechnic lead the study, which took the form of a non-invasive geochemical analysis. X-ray fluorescence spectrometry showed the blade contains nickel and cobalt in concentrations found in iron meteorites.

"The study confirms that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of precious objects, and the high manufacturing quality of Tutankhamun's dagger blade is evidence of significant mastery of ironworking already in Tutankhamun's time," notes the University of Pisa.

Tut's dagger

This blade has a fascinating origin.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science

The research was published this month in the Meteoritics & Planetary Science journal under the title "The meteoritic origin of of Tutankhamun's iron dagger blade." The scientific community has debated the dagger blade's composition over the years. The team says the new information "strongly supports its meteoritic origin."

King Tut's dagger is in good company. Tentetsutou ("Sword of Heaven") is a katana crafted by a Japanese master swordsmith. It features a blade made from a fragment of the massive Gibeon iron meteorite that landed in Namibia in prehistoric times. Author Terry Pratchett owned a custom meteorite sword of his own. There are also a variety of historic weapons known to be forged with meteoric iron.

Tut is again making headlines as archaeologists investigate whether or not the tomb contains hidden chambers. There are no conclusions on that front yet, but at least researchers seem to have solved an intriguing mystery surrounding the creation of the king's dagger.