The name, Tutankhamun translates to “living image of Aten”. Aten was the then name of the sun deity who was worshipped by his predecessors.
The tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in the valley of kings. Until then, the story of the boy king was unknown to the world. The king had been mummified more than 3,300 years ago and since the discovery of the tomb, Tutankhamun has become the world’s best-known Egyptian pharaoh.
The tomb was full of precious treasures, wall paintings, and inscriptions. The team took almost ten years to catalogue the items of the tomb! Since then, the story of King Tut has been fascinating the world with upcoming discoveries, one of which is his dagger.
Key highlights of the research
The dagger was entombed alongside the mummy of King Tut and is claimed to have a meteoritic origin. It is a part of the burial wrappings of the king and was discovered by the British archaeologist in 1925. The origin of its unrusted blade was researched using a non-invasive X-ray technique. It was identified that the metalwork was rare in ancient Egypt and the fact fascinated the scientists to inquire into its origin.
As per the research, the metal is composed of nickel, cobalt, and iron. The presence of iron along with nickel and cobalt is a sign of it being a meteoritic iron.
- Meteorites mostly contain some iron, to be more precise, they contain an alloy of iron and nickel.
- The metal is visible as it shines through the broken surface. It is rare to find a meteorite without any metal.
- The metals that are present in the meteorites contain around 7% nickel, but this isn’t a definitive test for the same. Chemical analysis is necessary to identify the metal.
- Iron meteorites possess a silvery, dense interior with crystal while the stony ones have small flakes of metals distributed throughout.
- The presence of iron along with nickel and cobalt in the dagger suggests an extraterrestrial origin.
The researchers have compared the composition of the dagger to the known meteorites that fell within 2000km around the Red Sea coast of Egypt. The one that fell in Alexandria has a specific mention in the report, as it contains the same levels of nickel and cobalt. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians used meteoritic iron for the production of ornamental and ceremonial objects and were aware of the same.
The dagger features a decorated gold handle along with a gold sheath and a floral lily motif on one side and a feather pattern on the other. The blade has a high manufacturing quality in contrast to the other meteoritic iron artifacts suggesting a significant mastery of ironworking in the king’s time. The dagger is on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The murder mystery
Tutankhamen was nine when he ascended the throne and died at the age of nineteen. His death is highly suspected and several stories revolve around the same. It is believed that as a nine-year-old boy, he worked with the aid of ministers, and during the time of death, he was seriously ill while there are other stories too. Few people call it a murder mystery. They believe that the boy king was killed by his people and there had been some foul play.
Although the king died at an early age, there are stories of his governance. At a young age, he went against his predecessors and reversed several decisions. Egypt returned to polytheism during his reign. This could have been a reason for murder. Many of his ministers must be unhappy with this decision. The king’s reign was however less than a decade. Scientists have been using techniques like DNA testing and digital imaging and so far some speculations suggest that the king must have died of malaria or an infection.
The valley of kings bore several tombs and many of them were looted, but Tutankhamun’s tomb was undisturbed on discovery. Few say that the mummy was cursed. It was believed that whoever disturbed the king’s peace would die. A few members of the team died after the discovery of the tomb but Carter did not agree with the idea of a curse and called it a ‘tommyrot’, while he died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1934.
In contrast to the other tombs in Egypt, the boy king’s final resting place is quite small. The artefacts and his mummy are still being studied and the research continues to amaze us with new facts!