More on meteorite beads.
Experts trace Petrie Museum's Egyptian tomb beads to ancient outer
Hammered into thin sheets and rolled into tubes, a set of nine
Egyptian beads at the Petrie Museum, dating from more than 5,000
years ago and strung into a necklace along with gold, gemstone and
exotic materials, were presumed to have been shaped from iron ore.
But surprising new research, compiled by experts at UCL and proving
that fourth century metalworkers could mould far harder and more
brittle materials than their traditional medium of copper, suggests
these tiny beads were made from meteorites predating iron ore by two
"The shape of the beads was obtained by smithing and rolling, most
likely involving multiple cycles of hammering not by the traditional
stone-working techniques such as carving or drilling which were used
for the other beads found in the same tomb," says Professor Thilo
Rehren, the lead author of the study published in the Journal of
"The really exciting outcome of this research is that we were for
the first time able to demonstrate conclusively that there are
typical trace elements such as cobalt and germanium present in these
beads, at levels that only occur in meteoritic iron.
"We are also excited to be able to see the internal structure of the
beads, revealing how they were rolled and hammered into form.
"This is very different technology from the usual stone bead
drilling, and shows quite an advanced understanding of how the metal
smiths worked this rather difficult material."
Non-invasive neutrons and gamma-rays were also used to detect nickel
and phosphorous in the beads. They were excavated in a pre-dynastic
cemetery near the village of el-Gerzeh, in Lower Egypt, in 1911.