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Picture: 5,000-Year-Old Bead Made From Meteorite

The bead reportedly marks the earliest known use of iron in Egypt.

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The bead was found south of Cairo, Egypt


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.

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