Feeds

Alien antique show: Egyptians wore JEWELRY FROM SPAAAACE

Boffins trace origin of 5,000-year-old cosmic bijoux

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Pic Archaeologists have discovered that ancient Egyptians fashioned their bling from rocks from outer space, not from iron ore.

Three of the nine ancient beads from Gerzeh, Egypt

Just bead it, bead it ... Three of the nine ancient beads from Gerzeh, Egypt

We're told beads kept at UCL's Petrie Museum in London predate the emergence of iron smelting by two millennia: the jewellery was made from pieces of meteorite, hammered into thin sheets and then rolled into tubes. The nine beads, which are at least 5,000 years old, were then strung together into a necklace along with gold and gemstones, reflecting the high value of the material in ancient times.

"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," said Professor Thilo Rehren, lead author of a paper on the find.

"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."

Because they started metal working with meteorite iron, smiths had nearly two millennia of experience by the time iron smelting started in the mid-second millennium BC, we're told. That knowledge was essential for coming up with smelting in the first place and the production of iron from iron ore, allowing the Iron Age to start and the metal to replace copper and bronze.

The beads were found in a pre-dynastic cemetery near the village of el-Gerzeh in Lower Egypt around 1911 and were completely corroded when discovered. A team of boffins had to use X-ray techniques to figure out if they were meteoric or magnetite, which can be mistaken for corroded iron due to its similar properties.

Shooting beams of neutrons and gamma-rays at the beads showed their unique texture and also revealed the high concentration of nickel, cobalt, phosphorus and germanium characteristic of meteoric iron.

The full paper, 5,000-years-old Egyptian iron beads made from hammered meteoritic iron, was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science and is available online from today. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.