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Earliest Known Egytpian Iron Jewelry Derived From Outer Space

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08/20/2013 11:59 AM

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Earliest Known Egytpian Iron Jewelry Derived From Outer Space
Some of the earliest pieces of jewelry discovered have been found to contain samples from outer space. Archaeologists have confirmed funeral beads strung around bodies from a 5000-year-old Egyptian cemetery contained pieces of iron from meteorites that fell to Earth.

Using high-tech scanning methods, researchers from University College London (UCL) found the nine small beads, which were discovered in the Lower Egypt village of el-Gerzeh in 1911, confirm the metal came from outer space rather than terrestrial iron ores, as previously believed. The beads came from two burial sites dating back to 3200 BC and were discovered along with other exotic terrestrial minerals such as agate and gold.

UCL Archaeology Professor Thilo Rehren, lead author of a paper published in The Journal of Archaeological Science, said, “The shape of the beads was obtained by smithing and rolling, most likely involving multiple cycles of hammering, and not by the traditional stone-working techniques such as carving or drilling which were used for the other beads found in the same tomb.”

Through Rehren and his colleagues’ work, it was determined these early jewelers had already mastered the smithing of metallic iron long before iron smelting came into existence, nearly 2,000 years later. This early knowledge was essential for the development of iron smelting and the production of iron from iron ore, allowing it to replace copper and bronze as main metals. This early technique may have essentially kick started the Iron Age.

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