According to a recent discovery, some 5,000 year-old Egyptian jewelry was made from meteorites that fell on Earth from space. The beads, the oldest known iron artifacts in the world, were created a full 2,000 years before Egypt’s actual Iron Age. The tube-shaped beads were first discovered in a tomb unearthed in 1911 near the remote village of el-Gerzeh. The tomb, which belonged to a teenage boy, held this jewelry, iron beads strung together into a necklace. The beads’ makeup had curiously high concentrations of nickel, a sign of iron meteorites.
At first, people assumed that these beads were manmade. However, by scanning the beads with beams of neutrons and gamma rays, they were revealed to contain a high concentration of cobalt, phosphorous and germanium, which only occurs in iron meteorites. The X-ray technology also revealed that the beads had been hammered into thin sheets, and then meticulously rolled into tubes. Working with solid iron requires repeatedly heating metals to red-hot temperatures and then hammering them into shape, an extremely elaborate operation for a 5,000 year-old society. This reveals that at this early age in human history, people were already capable of blacksmithing, and shows pretty advanced skill working with what was such a difficult material.
This isn’t the only ancient artifact made from space-metal, however. Last year, for instance, German scientists discovered a Buddha statue on the Russian-Mongolian border carved from a meteorite between the eighth and tenth centuries.