Sunday, July 7, 2013


EXPERTS have found iron beads in Egypt dating back 5,500 years ... thousands of years before the dawn of the Iron Age when mankind mastered the art of smelting iron.

Where did these beads come from? Surely they didn't just fall from the sky. Or did they?

Diane Johnson, a professor at the Open University in Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom, and several colleagues have solved the puzzle. The team reports in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science that the iron beads found Gerzeh Egypt did, indeed, fall from the sky.

These beads are made from meteoric iron, which is so pure it doesn't need to be smelted.

Johnson and her coauthors point out that the Gerzeh "iron seems to be used exclusively for high-status funerary goods, implying that a particular importance was placed upon it."

The ancient Hittites of Turkey were the first to smelt iron, around 1500 BC. In Egypt, the earliest iron smelting dates to around 700 BC. That's why it came as a considerable surprise when archaeologists recovered a handful of iron beads from the Gerzeh cemetery near Cairo dating to around 3500 BC.

Did the ancient Egyptians understand that meteorites came from the sky and is this why the iron was held in such esteem?

Maybe so because the ancient Egyptian term for iron ... "bja" ... might be translated as "stuff of which the sky is made."

There was no iron smelting in North America until around AD 1000, when Vikings brought the technology with them to the briefly occupied site of L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. It didn't catch on among the indigenous population and wasn't reintroduced until after 1492.

But just as in Egypt, iron artifacts are found at much earlier sites in North America, and the explanation is the same ... native peoples made use of "stuff of which the sky is made."

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