Ancient Egyptian dagger

A dagger from the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun is made of meteoritic iron

robertharding / Alamy

The sky is an enormous iron container filled with water and chunks of it occasionally fall off and plummet to Earth as iron meteorites. Or, at least, that’s what ancient Egyptians seem to have thought.

Iron is a relatively common element on Earth but it was largely inaccessible to early civilisations because it is locked away in ores that require smelting. This may have made the metal seem mystifying to ancient people, says M. Victoria Almansa-Villatoro at Brown University, Rhode Island.

The …



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