Evidence for iron smelting in Egypt dates back to the 6th century BC, but archaeologists have found much older iron artefacts in the region, including in Tutankhamun's tomb. Such artefacts are "pretty much exclusive to high-status tombs", says Diane Johnson of the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. Previous analyses of the oldest of these – nine iron beads from a cemetery near the Nile – proved inconclusive on their origins.
Now Johnson and colleagues have taken another look at one of the beads (pictured) and concluded that it is indeed from a meteorite. The surface of the bead had low levels of nickel, but the levels inside were as high as they would be in a meteorite.