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How do the people of the bronze age were taking iron?

Probably almost all iron objects of the paleometal period made of “stones that fell from the sky”.


Dagger from the tomb of Tutankhamun . (Photo: Meteoritics & Planetary Science.)

The dagger from alaca-Chuuka. (Photo: J. M. Criel, Antwerpen.)”

Provision of iron – a much more complex process than smelting copper and bronze. Therefore iron people learned to work later than with softer metals. The early iron age began in Anatolia and the Caucasus in the thirteenth century BC But the earliest objects of iron appear in almost two thousand years earlier. Such items were rare and very appreciated.

On the planet of iron very much, it can be found even on the surface. But there is another source – meteorites. Recent studies have shown that meteoric iron is made of some objects from the bronze age. For example, he made a dagger from the tomb of Tutankhamun. But all these things of the bronze age forged of “stones that fell from the sky”? Or only some?

Albert Jambon (Albert Jambon) from the French National Museum of natural history, believes that all. About it he writes in his article published in the December issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The researcher gathered all available information and performed its own chemical analyses of several findings. Meteoric iron has a high Nickel content, cobalt, and specific crystal structure – the pattern of Widmanstatten: intersecting stripes, bordered with a narrow shining ribbon. Albert Jambon proposed a new method: instead of analyzing, as before, the amount of Nickel or its relationship with iron, he was evaluated by their correlation with the cobalt. This can be done with a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which can be used to obtain information without damaging the objects and without moving them in the lab.

Gambon analysed for beads from al-Gears (Egypt, circa 3200 BC), the dagger from alaca-Chuuka (Turkey, circa 2500 BC), of the suspension of Umm al-Mari (Syria, about 2300 BC), axes from Ugarit (Syria, about 2300 BC) and the state of Shan-Yin (China, circa 1400 BC), and also for dagger, bracelet and headrest from Tutankhamun’s tomb.

It turned out that all these items are made from meteorite iron. That is not surprising: meteoritic iron is almost “clean” from him almost immediately, something can be forged. The iron is of terrestrial origin, in contrast, requires a special procedure – recovery of oxide. But, as mentioned above, it is much more common than a meteor. And the invention of the bloomer process kiln was the “iron revolution”, marked the beginning of a new era – in this era, strictly speaking, we still live.

According to the materials of the Institut de minéralogie, de physique des matériaux et de cosmochimie (CNRS / UPMC / IRD / Muséum national d’histoire naturelle).

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