The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s undisturbed tomb in 1922 revealed a literal treasure trove of archaeological items that offered Egyptologists a rare view into the death of a pharaoh; this came in contrast to the bare tombs of many other members of Egyptian royalty, looted in the millennia since their burial. One of the artifacts found amongst the boy-king’s possessions was a metal dagger, included for his use in the afterlife, that appears to be of extraterrestrial origin.

This isn’t to say that the dagger was forged by beings from another planet, but a recent study of the metal that makes up the item’s blade has found that it appears to be made of meteoric iron — metal made from a meteor that impacted the Earth. The study, conducted in 2014, made use of advances in X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a non-invasive method of determining the atomic makeup of a given material. The scans, conducted jointly by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Turin, the University of Pisa and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, found nickel and cobalt ratios that were consistent with what was found in earlier known iron meteorite samples.

Iron artifacts are rarely found in ancient Egyptian sites, as the Egyptians of the time did not have the expertise to extract useful amounts of iron from the earth, so everyday items would be made from copper and bronze instead. The inclusion of such a rare item in the young pharaoh’s tomb, along with an impressive mastery of metal working for the time, illustrates the ancient Egyptian’s appreciation for the value of such a rare metal — a metal that fell from the heavens. 

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