Meteoric blades and beads


Meteoric iron dagger of Emperor Jahangir, Mughal dynasty, 1621, India (photo by “Daderot,” public domain)

Many of the earliest objects made from iron were forged from iron meteorites. The dagger above and the hatchet below are later examples.


An iron meteorite and a hatchet forged from meteoric iron (photo by “Zaereth,” public domain)

Working with meteoric iron could be done in the absence of iron ore, or in the absence of smelting technology. A recent paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science reports that the oldest known iron artefacts (iron beads from Egypt, dated to 3200 BC) were made from meteoritic iron, rather than being smelted from ore (the presence of germanium is the strongest evidence). This indicates that the age of iron began with meteorites from the sky, and that the smelting of ore followed centuries of experience with meteoric iron.

Iron smelting may be technologically more sophisticated, but making iron blades from star-stones is far cooler!


Widmanstätten pattern in a meteorite (my photo)

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