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Origins of Iron

Ancient iron was derived from meteorites

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BBC has an article about previously unpublished photos of the finds; including the knives Iron blade on top and gold blade  on the bottom

_102314621_daggers.jpg

www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44636774

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I'll have to do into my gold stash to make a replica of that beauty!  

Seriously though, I am always awed by the Egyptian artifacts.

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Way back when; I got to see Buster Warenski's reproduction of King Tutankhamen's gold blade at a Knifemaker's Guild show; unfortunately I am more impressed by the iron one for that date! 

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I concur with Thomas that the iron knife is more intriguing.  I read that they analyzed the knife back in the 70s and thought that it might be from meteorite, but was deemed inclonclusive.  recently I heard they proved it was from a meteor.  they said the hieroglyph that describes it translates to iron from the sky.

I wonder if the machi is intended, or if the blade has come loose from the handle or if there was something else there that has deteriorated.  Amazing that it has lasted this long in such great condition.  must be like zero humidity there.  

I'm also struck with the beauty and timelessness of the design.

 

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Considering what did survive in the tomb it's hard for me to guess at what might not survive; so I think it was deliberate. Of course it could be something removed before entombment. The shape of the handle doesn't look like the tang would slide any further up in it.  Anyone know if they have an x-ray of the handle somewhere? The handles seem rather well matched save for the blade end of the iron dagger where a terminal ridge would be needed.

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It just now occurs to me that the pommel is crystal.  If the guard were also crystal, it is easy for me to imagine a mishap that would account for the exposed machi

 

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The article itself is fascinating; thank you for giving us the website address. 

 

 

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Tried a bit of google foo but no exray found.  article originally published in the Journal of Meteorics and Planetary Science.  you can get an abstract but not the full text without membership or an $1871 annual subscription.  did find a closeup of the blade though showing the two spots where they sampled it.  the abstract says the blade had almost 11% nickel and .5% cobalt.  how would this effect the final product compared to terrestrial iron1364972743_tutsdagger.thumb.jpg.6a3517e2a838bcb34a515077b99ba083.jpg

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Well you can consider all terrestrial iron to be meteoritic in derivation; it's just been pre-processed perhaps many times through terrestrial processes...

The stuff that is "directly meteoritic"  is generally a mess to forge with iridium making it particularly hard to forge.  Nickel and Cobalt  are positive alloying elements but usually need to be used in conjunction with other elements to enhance their properties.  (Cobalt increases high temperature strength for instance and Nickel increases toughness---hence it's use in certain, modern, armor alloys)

I think the big item is what is NOT there and that is the ferrous silicates present in bloomery iron and so perhaps being a more homogeneous material.  Of course forging does destroy the Widmanstätten  patterns that are archtypical for iron based meteoritic materials 

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considering the difficulty in forging the directly meteoric iron, amazing considering it was from what 1400bc?  I wondered if the high nickel content contributed to its longevity?

 

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"It's good to be the King!"    As many wooden items survived as well as unbaked clay items I would think the dryness was the major factor; but the Ni probably helped!

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I know that this is a late addition to this thread but I have always wondered if these early iron objects were made by a process other than forging.  For example, stock removal or casting.  I know that many iron meteorites do not forge well but they may lend themselves to other technologies.  If bronze blades are made by casting and then polishing might some bronze worker have cranked up his furnace high enough to melt the odd lump which fell from the sky and poured it into the same mould as he used for bronze?  This might require some experimental archeology.

 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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The Widmanstätten  patterns would remain if the blade were stock removal and it's been refined out of Tut's blade by forging.

A bronzesmith who could make a fire hot enough to cast nickle iron would've discovered how to make iron and steel. The crystallization from casting would be easily visible on the surface, even after grinding.

Tut's blade predates the bronze age.

Interesting thoughts.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Dear Frosty,

IIRC the widmanstatten pattern reflects the crystal structure of the original meteorite.  Therefore, it might not show up unless a stock removal surface was etched by acid or time, just like pattern welded steel does not show its details until the surface is exposed to something to which the steels react differently.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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