- Iron from Tutankhamun's Tomb
Iron from Tutankhamun's Tomb
Translated by Manon Schutz
A comprehensive study of the iron objects found in Tutankhamun’s tomb that include daggers, quivers, arrows, and an elaborately decorated bow case
A century after Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon’s sensational discovery in 1922 of the virtually intact tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, the boy-king and his treasures continue to fascinate people all over the world. Although nearly 5,400 objects accompanied the young pharaoh on his journey to the afterlife, many of them have not been investigated in detail.
Iron from Tutankhamun’s Tomb analyzes iron artifacts from the tomb in depth for the first time. This group consists of small iron chisels set into wooden handles, an Eye of Horus amulet, a miniature headrest, and the blade of a richly decorated golden dagger. The most important of these were placed in close proximity to the king’s mummy, emphasizing the high value attributed to this rare material in late Bronze Age Egypt—a time when iron smelting was not yet known in the land of the Nile.
Written by a research team of archaeologists, scientists, and conservators, this comprehensive study explores in fascinating detail the context and meaning of these artifacts, while establishing for the first time that Tutankhamun’s iron came from meteorites. They complete their examination with the results of chemical analyses, offering in the process a rich overall understanding of iron and its significance in ancient Egypt.
Katja Broschat is a conservator at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, Germany.
Florian Ströbele was a researcher between 2011 and 2019 at the archaeometry laboratories of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz, Germany, and of Historic England, Portsmouth, UK.
Christian Koeberl is a professor of impact research and planetary geology at the University of Vienna, a full member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and former director general of the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
Christian Eckmann is a conservator and head of the department for restoration and conservation at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, Germany.
Eid Mertah is a Conservator of archaeological materials in the Restoration and Conservation Department of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
“Ever since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the boy king and his treasures have stunned the world. This fascinating study of all the iron objects from Tutankhamun’s tomb shows that there was much more to it than gold.”—Zahi Hawass
"A fascinating analysis by a very knowledgeable team of experts. Every Tutankhamun enthusiast will want this one for their bookshelf."—Bob Brier, Long Island University
"Today, iron is very much a workaday material, but in the Egypt of Tutankhamun it was a miraculous material that descended from the stars. The king’s tomb contained a tiny handful of prized iron items, the most important placed on the mummy itself. This definitive book by an international team of experts finally reveals their secrets."—Aidan Dodson, University of Bristol
“This book combines unprecedented access to the rich collection of iron objects from Tutankhamun’s tomb with the superb documentation skills of the team of conservators of the Gold Mask of the Boy King. It is required reading for anyone interested in meteoritic iron and its early use, providing a detailed view onto this unique assemblage of ‘iron from the sky,’ from mundane tools to symbolic items, and the iconic iron dagger."—Thilo Rehren, The Cyprus Institute
"This study brings together, for the first time, all the iron objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun and demonstrates that they are of extra-terrestrial origin; that is, they are made of meteoritic iron. Even though the Egyptians of Tutankhamun’s time could not smelt iron from its ores they were able to work meteoritic iron. While gold may be most closely associated with the ‘boy-king,' this heavenly iron would have been very highly prized for its rarity and as a gift from the gods."—Paul T. Nicholson, Cardiff University
"This beautifully illustrated book presents a technical study of iron tools, amulets, and a gold-sheathed dagger, in the context of the burial and iron technology of ancient Egypt."—Susanne Gänsicke, The J. Paul Getty Museum
"This slender and elegant volume brings together the most complete published data on the iron artifacts from the burial equipment of King Tutankhamun (Tomb KV 62)"—The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
"Iron from Tutankhamun’s Tomb is a definitive, exemplary monograph, remarkable for its excellent illustrations. This is a succinct, closely argued, and invaluable study, which settles the meteoric iron controversy once and for all. Apart from that, this beautifully produced volume is a major contribution to the long-term study of the sepulcher."—Brian Fagan, Archaeology Worldwide
“A comprehensive and scholarly account of the iron objects found in Tutankhamun’s burial and elevates what might otherwise have been simply an academic paper to a fascinating work that would grace any enthusiast’s bookshelf or coffee table.”—Ancient Egypt
"Informatively written . . . beautifully and profusely illustrated"—Midwest Book Review