BEIJING, Aug. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Researchers found that ancient Egyptian iron beads were made from a meteorite,rather than iron ore,a study published in the latest Journal of Archaeological Science showed.
The nine small beads were discovered by British archaeologists in 1911 in a pre-dynastic cemetery near the village of el-Gerzeh in Lower Egypt, where they were found in necklaces along with exotic terrestrial minerals such as lapis lazuli, agate and gold.
They are stored at the University College London (UCL) Petrie Museum.
By scanning the beads with beam of neutrons and gamma-rays, the scientists found traces of nickel, phosphorus, cobalt and germanium that meant the source could only have been extraterrestrial.
X-ray scanners, meanwhile, showed that the meteorite iron had been repeatedly heated and hammered to make the precious jewels for the afterlife.
The test results show that in the fourth millennium BC, Egyptian metalworkers had already mastered the smithing of meteoritic iron, developing techniques that went on to define the iron age, said the scientists.