Meteorites Came From Space, According to Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Meteorites Came From Space, According to Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Everyone knows (or should know) that ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun possessed a meteorite-iron knife. The dagger, discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb, was tested using portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry and discovered to have a composition similar to iron meteorites.

Further examination of how the blade was created, as well as possible allusions to the knife in letters, suggests that it was given by the king of Mitanni to Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun’s grandfather, before being passed down. But were the Ancient Egyptians aware that meteorites came from another planet?

According to an analysis of hieroglyphic inscriptions recently revealed by Egyptologist Victoria Almansa-Villatoro for Sapiens, they might have. The answer can be found in the Ancient Egyptian name for iron.

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Meteorites Came From Space, According to Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics

“From the beginning of the 19th Dynasty (approximately 1295 [BCE]), a new hieroglyphic word for iron appeared: ‘bi-A-n-pt,’ which literally translates as ‘iron from the sky,” Diane Johnson, Post Doctoral Research Associate in The Open University’s Department of Physical Sciences, explained in a piece for The Conversation. “It is unknown why this new word appears in this exact form at this time, but it was later applied to all metallic iron.” A huge impact event or large meteorite shower would be an obvious explanation for the word’s abrupt development.”

According to Almansa-Villatoro, the oldest references that tie iron with the sky originate from the Pyramid Texts, which are texts on the walls of pyramids built by kings and queens 4,100-4,400 years ago.

“The inscriptions present the sky as an iron bowl containing water, pieces of which can fall to Earth as meteorites or rain,” she wrote. She went on to say that “iron and sky are interchangeable in the texts, which is why passages describe the dead sailing the iron and the king needing to break an iron barrier to reach the sky.”

More subtly, the same sign used for iron was used as a classifier for the words “uterus” and “water.” The ancient Egyptians believed that after death, rulers would be reincarnated in the waters of goddess Nut’s womb, where this qualifier was discovered.

“What could at first be dismissed as random, irrelevant associations of ‘unscientific’ minds describing metals, women and water turns out to be a byproduct of a scientifically correct interpretation of the provenance of meteoritic iron,” she said. “In Egypt, 4,400 years ago, the word for iron could simply mean sky because the Egyptians knew iron was part of the sky.”

This argument has received considerable criticism, given that seeing meteorite collisions is still uncommon today. However, it is still feasible that the Ancient Egyptians witnessed such an occurrence, possibly the Gebel Kamil meteorite impact in Southern Egypt during the last 5,000 years.