Radar scanning experts scan a wall at King Tutankhamun's burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, April 1, 2016. Results of cavity scans will return within one week to produce more details of what lies beyond Egypt's boy-king Tutankhamun's tomb walls, the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El Enany said on Friday. Reuters/Sayed Sheasha

According to a research published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science, a dagger kept beside the body of King Tutankhamun, was made of space iron. The mineral was delivered by a meteorite that fell on Earth. The team of researchers, led by Daniela Comelli of the Polytechnic University of Milan, used portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to determine the source of the iron. They analysed the blade and found its composition similar to 11 metallic meteorites.

The dagger contained 10 per cent nickel and 0.6 per cent cobalt. It was found inside the wrapping surrounding the right thigh of the Egyptian king’s mummy. Another separate blade was found inside the wrapping on the abdomen. Both were discovered when archaeologist Howard Carter found King Tut’s tomb in 1922. For years, scientists debated whether the dagger was made of meteorite elements. However, previous analysis of the dagger provided controversial results.

The dagger dates back to the 14th century BC and features a decorated gold handle with a rounded knob of rock crystal. The dagger was encased in a beautiful gold sheath, decorated with a pattern of feathers, lilies and a jackal’s head. The study revealed that during the Bronze Age, iron was considered more precious than gold. Early iron works are rarely found in ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians found it hard to work with iron probably because of the high heat required to forge it. However, when they did work with it, it was to make ceremonial items and tools. Iron was mostly used for decorative purposes. The study has provides insight into the Egyptian’s use of the term “iron of the sky.”

“The introduction of the new composite term suggests that the ancient Egyptians, in the wake of other ancient people of the Mediterranean area, were aware that these rare chunks of iron fell from the sky already in the 13th C. BCE, anticipating Western culture by more than two millennia,” the research said.

In order to find out which meteorite the Egyptians used to make this iron dagger, the scientists considered all meteorites within a 2,000 kilometre radius of the centre of the Red Sea. They narrowed down on 20 iron meteorites. Comelli to the ABC that they found only one meteorite, named Kharga, that had nickel and cobalt content somewhat similar to the composition of King Tut’s blade.