Well, yes, seems logical

A dagger entombed with King Tutankhamun was made with iron from a meteorite, a new analysis on the metal composition shows.

Before the Iron Age (which was after Young Tut) the only source of iron was metorites, as us ‘umans didn’t know how to make iron.

So, err, yes. The vast surprise would be to find something from 1300 BC or so which was iron and not meteorite iron.

19 thoughts on “Well, yes, seems logical”

  1. As far as we know. But recall that it was assumed for a long time that all Inuit iron was meteoric in origin, specifically the Cape York meteorite, and that is now known to be untrue.

    Meteoric iron is certainly the natural assumption for the dagger, but it’s not the only conceivable source.

  2. As a slight diversion, I’ve got a kilo bag of small iron/nickel meteorites from the Campo de Cielo impact area and am in some degree of discussion with my pet knife maker about what can be done with them.

    He’s not happy. Apparently they are very difficult to make in to steel because:

    as it has 0% carbon, and is thus unhardenable, and the high % of nickel precludes carbon migration, which is what generally allows one to incorporate unhardenable material into a blade

  3. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    King Tootingcommon might have bought it from a travelling dealer in old iron: Steptohep and Son.

  4. I doubt King Tut would have been overly concerned with the hardening issue. Remember, at that time, you only had to be better than bronze.

    What makes this story cool is that the material came from outer space. Look forward to a new ancient aliens episode.

  5. Iron’s worse than bronze – at least, in terms of the weapon in your hand.

    Logistically it’s much better – it’s easier to get hold of the raw materials, and you can forge it instead of casting it, which incidentally makes it easier to make longer weapons.

    But give the choice of a bronze dagger and an iron one, the bronze one wins in terms of utility – especially over a very early iron one.

    Bragging rights, on the other hand…

  6. I was under the impression that bronze weapons were more likely to shatter while iron would merely deform. Wouldn’t the forge-ability of iron make it easier to repair minor damage as well?

  7. The Iceman (great museum in Bolzano, you should visit) had a copper axe. Seems to me less use than ornament, but any experts on here can shed light on 6,000 BC smelting?

  8. bif
    “The Iceman had a copper axe. Seems to me less use than ornament,”

    Just stand still while I whack you on the head with this copper axe. Quite capable of killing I’d say.

  9. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The main advantage of iron vs. bronze apart from being capable of autochtonous production is that you can make steel from it, and steel beats bronze hands down (it takes and keeps a better edge, it’s tougher, harder and slightly less dense). It is, however, much much harder to make. Stainless steel is only about a hundred years old.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Yank – “What makes this story cool is that the material came from outer space.”

    George Dyson has a story about being a child and seeing a piece of rubber from a transmission belt on the side of the road and asking his father what it was. Freeman Dyson said it was part of another sun.

    Technically true but not very helpful.

    On the other hand the lithium in the battery in my mobile phone was created in the first seconds of the Big Bang. In theory. That is pretty cool.

    bloke in france – “The Iceman (great museum in Bolzano, you should visit) had a copper axe. Seems to me less use than ornament, but any experts on here can shed light on 6,000 BC smelting?”

    The world’s anthropologists are so committed to the idea that War is a product of evil modern Western civilisation that they denied that Otzi was carrying weapons. They insisted that his bronze axe was currency. Leading some wag to ask what if the arrow heads he also carried were his small change.

    So committed were they to this non-violent view that they failed to notice how he died. It took a decade before anyone noticed his wounds. Which were not minor:

    In 2001 X-rays and a CT scan revealed that Ötzi had an arrowhead lodged in his left shoulder when he died,[51] and a matching small tear on his coat.[52] The discovery of the arrowhead prompted researchers to theorize Ötzi died of blood loss from the wound, which would probably have been fatal even if modern medical techniques had been available.[53] Further research found that the arrow’s shaft had been removed before death, and close examination of the body found bruises and cuts to the hands, wrists and chest and cerebral trauma indicative of a blow to the head. One of the cuts was to the base of his thumb that reached down to the bone but had no time to heal before his death. Currently, it is believed that the cause of death was a blow to the head, but researchers are unsure of what inflicted the fatal injury.

    For some reason this reminds me of Monty Python’s armless Knight but in this case the joke would be on the scientists. How do you not notice a crushed skull?

    So I think we can assume bronze weapons worked quite well.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    SMFS: while some Li was produced in the Big Bang, most of it is produced by cosmic ray spallation. Cosmogenic nucleosynthesis is responsible for most of our Be and B as well.

  12. Liberal Yank: I’m not sure on the details of the metallurgy, and of course “bronze” covers a multitude of alloys, but so far as I’m aware they’re much of a muchness.

    Weapons shatter because they’re hard, which is a good thing; they resist shattering because they’re deformable, which is a bad thing. There are references in a few Icelandic sagas to warriors having to put their swords under their knees to bend them back into shape, which is probably inconvenient in a melee. So you want a happy medium.

    Repairing minor damage is an odd one. Certainly it is possible to weld a broken iron sword back together on an anvil, but I’d probably class “broken” as more then “minor damage” 🙂 It was certainly done in period, but I think I’d rather have a fresh one. On the other hand you can melt bronze down and recast it into a brand new sword quite easily, whereas iron can get temperamental if you hit it too much (and you lose a lot of material).

    Nicks and so on could of course be filed smooth with either iron or bronze

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    ‘Tough’ is the mot juste. It’s the area under the stress/strain curve, which corresponds to the amount of energy you need to put in to break it, or perhaps to move it into the plastic deformation region and make it unfit for purpose. In an edged weapon you want a material that is hard, tough, and has a relatively large elasticity, so it can bend without breaking or staying bent. Steel is your best bet for that. Medium density is good, too, so it has some momentum behind it. A titanium sword would probably be useless. Dunno how you’d sharpen it, either.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “while some Li was produced in the Big Bang, most of it is produced by cosmic ray spallation. Cosmogenic nucleosynthesis is responsible for most of our Be and B as well.”

    Cosmogenic nucleosynthesis? Pah! I refuse to accept such jumped up social climbing arriviste elements! They are the Princess Michael of the physics world and I refuse to acknowledge their existence.

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