UCL researchers have discovered that nine ancient Egyptian beads, crafted and strung together over 5,000 years ago, contain traces of iron from meteors. The meteorites were set into a necklace with gold and gemstones, highlighting the high value of these otherworldly rocks.
The earth is bombarded with nearly 15,000 tons of meteroids each year, although most burn up in the atmosphere. Terrestial touchdown, such as with the Russian meteor crash in February, is an extremely rare event, making these beads even more exotic than once presumed.
"The shape of the beads was obtained by smithing and rolling, most likely involving multiple cycles of hammering, and not by the traditional stone-working techniques such as carving or drilling which were used for the other beads found in the same tomb," said lead author Thilo Rehren, a professor of archaeology at UCL's satellite campus in Qatar.