National Geographic Daily News
An Egyptian meteorite bead.

The bead was found south of Cairo, Egypt

Photograph by Andy Tindle, Open Univeristy

Cathy Newman

National Geographic

Published May 31, 2013

Talk about heaven sent—a 5,000-year-old iron bead found in a grave in Gerzeh, about 43 miles south of Cairo, Egypt, has been analyzed and found to be made from a meteorite.

According to the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science, the bead represents the earliest known use of iron in Egypt. "The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians," Joyce Tyldesley, a co-author of the study, told Nature News. "Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods."

The few iron artifacts discovered previously were associated with high-status graves like that of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The Gerzeh bead was examined with optical imaging, as well as with an electron scanning microscope and a CT scanner. The nickel-rich areas in the virtual model (bottom, left) are colored blue and indicative of its meteoritic origin.

5 comments
Raymond Reiffer
Raymond Reiffer

With today's tools it is most difficult to drill thru Nickle.....thus the question

Abul F.
Abul F.

We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.

57:26 quran

Eric Tuvesson
Eric Tuvesson

Was not all iron in Ancient Egypt of meteoric origin? That is what I was taught.

Share

How to Feed Our Growing Planet

  • Feed the World

    Feed the World

    National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.

See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

The Innovators Project

See more innovators »

Latest News Video

  • Mazes: Key to Brain Development?

    Mazes: Key to Brain Development?

    Mazes are a powerful tool for neuroscientists trying to figure out the brain and help us learn to grapple with the unexpected.

See more videos »

See Us on Google Glass

Shop Our Space Collection

  • Be the First to Own <i>Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey</i>

    Be the First to Own Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

    The updated companion book to Carl Sagan's Cosmos, featuring a new forward by Neil deGrasse Tyson is now available. Proceeds support our mission programs, which protect species, habitats, and cultures.

Shop Now »