Egyptians made iron collars that 'came from space'
This is some of this material beads found in 1911 in a burial site Gerzeh, which developed one of the first Egyptian cultures between 3600 and 3350 BC. Independently, two teams of researchers, one made up of scientists from the Open University and the U. Manchester and one from University College London (UCL) - analyzed the material with non-invasive technology.
They used two samples of these beads preserved in the Manchester Museum and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL, respectively, both considered as the earliest examples of use of iron by humans.
Far from the Earth These objects were aimed at making necklaces in alternating pieces of gold and other minerals and precious stones such as lapis lazuli. Diane Johnson, researcher with the Department of Physical Sciences at the Open University and lead author of one study, recently published in the journal, Meteorites and Planetary Science, explains that iron meteorites has certain unique chemical and structural characteristics as consequence of their formation in space. Thus it is always rich in nickel and is composed of two alloys crystallized in the small core of planets at the beginning of the history of our solar system, about 4.500 million years.
Further developed over very long periods of time and exhibit specific growth patterns. "They could be manufactured on Earth with the same chemical at least we had millions of years to wait for their training," he says. Stresses that in its analysis of Gerzeh accounts, which involved the use of electron microscopy and computed tomography, just identified fragment nickel-rich iron. Meanwhile, the team from University College, whose work was published this week in the Journal of Archaeology Science, used a beam of neutrons and gamma rays to determine if the beads preserved in the museum belonged to iron meteorites and not magnetite, which often confused with corroded iron because it has similar properties. After scanning the beads could confirm the unique texture of the piece and also to determine a high concentration of nickel, cobalt, phosphorus and germanium.
"For the first time we show that there is the presence of elements such as cobalt and germanium in these beads at levels that are only possible if the iron originated from a meteorite," said Thilo Rehren, archaeologist archeology headquarters UCL Qatar and author of the second study. The researcher said the technique used by the Egyptians to work that iron, which he described as complex and novel for the time.
The hammered to make the pieces in a very thin layer which then gave a cylindrical shape. As indicated by Johnson, in these times that were obtained prior to when knowledge of the process of smelting iron, natural occurrence was highly valued. "Part of this value could be simply because of the rarity of the material, but in some cases we see evidence of a knowledge of heavenly origin."
He explains that around the beginning of the XIX Dynasty (1292-1187 to BC), the hieroglyph that identified iron can be translated literally as iron of heaven. "This knowledge must have had a special meaning for a culture like the Egyptians, who often based their beliefs on the observation of nature, especially the sky."
Other cultures use of iron meteorites is not unique to the Egyptians. Diane Johnson, a researcher at the Open University, says that in the mountains Hopewell (Ohio, USA) have been found dating accounts and earmuffs approximately 2. 400 years ago were probably worked with the same method as that of Egypt. Similarly, the Inuit of Cape York, Greenland, made use of three large meteorites to make knife blades or tips arpón.In ancient China about 3000 years ago, there is evidence leaves broadswords and axes daggers, which also were considered ceremonial objects.
You can download the free pdf of the Analysis of a prehistoric Egyptian iron bead with implications for the use and perception of meteorite iron in ancient Egypt
Source: Diario El Comercio Ecuador