|Earliest iron artefacts, found in 5,000-year-old Egyptian cemetery, came from meteorite |
Meteoric iron beads (C), originally strung with tubular lapis lazuli (blue), carnelian (brownish/red), agate, and gold beads on necklaces. The earliest iron artefacts ever found -- funeral beads strung around bodies in a 5,000-year-old Egyptian cemetery -- were made from a meteorite, archaeologists said on August 19. AFP PHOTO / HO / UCL Petrie Museum/Rob Eagle.
PARIS (AFP).- The earliest iron artefacts ever found -- funeral beads strung around bodies in a 5,000-year-old Egyptian cemetery -- were made from a meteorite, archaeologists said on Monday.
Hi-tech scanning of the beads, discovered by British archaeologists in the Lower Egypt village of el-Gerzeh in 1911, shows the metal came from a rock in outer space, they said.
The nine small beads come from two burial sites dated to around 3,200 BC, where they were found in necklaces along with exotic terrestrial minerals such as lapis lazuli, agate and gold.
They are stored at the University College London (UCL) Petrie Museum.
Meteorite iron is an alloy that has a different composition from terrestrial iron.
The scientists teased out a signature of the elements in the beads through a non-destructive ID test called prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis (PGAA).
Under this, a sample is bathed in low-energy beams of neutrons. Elements in the sample absorb some of the neutrons and emit gamma rays in response, the level of which provides the telltale.
The team found traces of nickel, phosphorus, cobalt and germanium that meant the source could only have been extraterrestrial.
X-ray scanners, meanwhile, showed that the meteorite iron had been repeatedly heated and hammered to make the precious jewels for the afterlife.
This shows that in the fourth millennium BC, the Egyptians were already advanced in the art in smithing, say the researchers.
Meteoritic iron is much harder and more brittle than copper, the commonly-worked material of the time.
"They were rolled and hammered into shape," said Thilo Rehren, a UCL professor of archaeology.
"This is very different technology from the usual stone bead drilling, and shows quite an advanced understanding of how the metal smiths worked this rather difficult material."
The study appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
August 21, 2013
Earliest iron artefacts, found in 5,000-year-old Egyptian cemetery, came from meteorite
Two stunning paintings form significant addition to Bowes Museum collection
Drysdale's 'Old Larsen' and Glover's Colonial Masterpiece among the star lots at Christie's Australian Art Sale
Earliest portrait of a guinea pig discovered as exhibition reveals unseen painting
Christie's to offer Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art in Dubai
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen announces new acquisitions for Rotterdam City Collection
Spotlight on art in August: Copenhagen Art Week marks the opening of the new exhibition season
Summers Place Auctions to sell further historic London street signs on behalf of Westminster Council
Museum of Modern Art in New York announces "Sculpture Garden Mornings" starting September 9
Grey Flannel's eighth stellar Basketball Hall of Fame auction set for September 7
"Yang Fudong: Estranged Paradise, Works 1993-2013" opens at Berkeley Art Museum
Base and Bureau A Architects create Montreux Jazz Festival 2013 seasonal visual identity
Neglect and decay threaten historic Algiers Kasbah; Plan to renovate launches
A CSA for affordable art, not veggies: NYC's 1st Community Supported Art program launches
The Many Faces of Jonathan Yeo is first major publication on the artist
Tom Allan to open exhibition at the National Trust property of Gladstone's Land
University of Richmond Museums opens three new exhibitions
Christie's announces online-only sale of jewellery pieces
Meekyoung Shin invites Yorkshire Sculpture Park visitors to wash their hands with her sculptures
"Bethan Huws & The Bistritsa Babi: Singing for the Sea, 1993" on view at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Egypt conservationists to sue over 'botched' Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun mask repair
2.- Scrolls scorched by Vesuvius may be read again thanks to 21st century technology
3.- Italian government seizes more than 5,000 looted antiquities in record 45-million-euro haul
4.- Remains of at least five people found in Alexander the Great-era tomb in Amphipolis
5.- Munich poised to lift ban on Holocaust memorial project known as Stolpersteine
6.- Rare coin records smashed by Heritage Auctions at Florida United Numismatists Convention
7.- Bonhams to offer Alan Turing's hidden manuscript on the foundations of mathematics and computer science
8.- Jane Wilson, painter of luminous landscapes, dies at the age of 90 in New York
9.- First exhibition in the UK to examine Rubens influence on art history opens in London
10.- Paul Simonon presents a series of new paintings at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|