A century later, the figure of Tutankhamun still remains full of mysteries. One of this is the nature of his dagger, one of the many treasures of the funeral, which has a total of over 5,000 finds. The question that archaeologists have asked themselves to date concerns the material of which it is composed: the eye is attracted by the handle and the golden hilt, but the protagonist is iron. According to the hypotheses of archaeologists, at the time of Tutankhamun, iron was a more valuable material than gold, and indicated a very high social status.
In fact, there is no archaeological evidence of iron smelting in Egypt prior to the 6th century BC, and the earliest known example of the use of metallic iron dates back to 3400 BC. approximately, therefore before the unification and the era of the pharaohs, which begins around 3,000 BC.
The ancient Egyptians knew this and, after all, they had told us. A papyrus tells of an "iron rained down from heaven". But the mystery of the origin of one of the two daggers found together with the mummy of the child pharaoh, Tutankhamun, has divided scholars since the sarcophagus kept in the Valley of the Kings was opened in 1925. an Italian-Egyptian research, also born after the discovery of a crater. Among the many mysteries and superstitions linked to the pharaoh, starting with the curse that would have struck those who profaned his tomb, at least one unknown factor has been solved. With X-ray fluorescence, scientists have removed all doubts: the iron from the blade of that dagger comes from space.
The dagger, about 35 centimeters long and not at all rusty, was slipped between the mummy's bandages, to prepare for the encounter with the afterlife: suffice it to say how precious it was.
There were scholars who already claimed it was a meteorite, while others thought it had been imported: in Anatolia in the fourteenth century BC. C., when Tutankhamun lived, the iron was already there. "Incredibly, however, so far no one had done any analysis."
But how did it come to be an alien metal? From the composition: iron in fact contains 10% nickel and 0.6 cobalt: «These are the typical concentrations of meteorites. an alloy, in these concentrations, is impossible ». The instrumentation used on the exhibit in Egypt was not invasive, the X-ray fluorescence, then the data and results were analyzed in Italy. The bilateral project, which began in these days, would perhaps no longer be possible in today's Egypt.
The meteorite that generated the crater was of ferrous origin, and crashed to the ground about 5,000 years ago, destroying itself in many fragments. From those pieces the iron would have been extracted to make the blade of the Pharaoh's dagger, an object not of practical but ornamental use.
In the 1970s and 1990s, researchers toyed with the idea that the blade might have come from a meteorite, but their results were inconclusive. However, last year, a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers used a new technology called X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to take another look.
Their results? The blade's composition of iron, nickel and cobalt "strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin".
A meteorite found in the port city of Marsa Matruh, which is 150 miles west of Alexandria, had a similar composition to the dagger, thus giving credit to the scientists' discovery.


I said goodbye in the end,
I counted the petals, the drops of frost,
I even counted the clouds.
I said goodbye but didn’t leave.
It was all still there,
leaves, stones, boots, sparrows.
I couldn’t nest on a branch,
to be human means to build.
But I don’t want to build,
concrete and tears, and distorted iron.
I said goodbye but remained like a thread of heaven,
like a stringy mist,
like a sovereign bride.
Mud and petals, roofs, twigs.
The sparrows and I are the same.


Research shows that British women do 60% more housework. Is there any hope for balance when it comes to emptying the bins?

Why, exactly, is housework so annoying? Certain specific chores are obviously pretty unpleasant: few people relish cleaning the toilet, or extracting mouldy vegetables from the bottom drawer of the fridge. But why housework in general? Part of the answer, surely, is that it’s unending, so you never achieve that satisfying sense of getting it out of the way, nor even of having made a little progress. The only reason you’re stacking the dishwasher is so the dishes can be dirtied again tomorrow; you’re fishing the toddler’s toys from under the sofa so he can fling them back there as soon as he wakes up. “Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition,” wrote Simone de Beauvoir, in The Second Sex, published in 1949. “The clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.” Needless to say, De Beauvoir wasn’t objecting solely to the work, but to the division of labour: housework is also annoying because, if you’re a woman living with a man, it’s highly likely you end up doing most of it, no matter who earns more, or who spends longer at the office. To be fair to us, men do a lot more housework than in 1949. But women still do a lot more than that. So now both sexes have grounds to resent how much of their lives they spend with Toilet Duck in hand, or scooping bits of spaghetti from the kitchen sink.

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