King Tut's Pectoral Scarab & The Myth Of Phaeton

Dennis_De_Bacle

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#1
Tutankhamun's Pectoral Scarab

I remember reading somewhere that the scarab in the centre of this piece of jewelry is made of a type of glass which was found in a depression in a desert. It was originally thought to have been some form of gem stone.
Does anyone have any idea where the glass was found? (I believe that when they found this area that there were significant amounts of the glass lying on the surface and there was some speculation about it being connected with an impact crater)

edit: there is a nice picture of it here
 

Timble2

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#2
The stuff is called Libyan Desert Glass.

There's a bit about it here;
http://www.meteor.co.nz/feb98_1.html

Googling for tektite and Tutankhamen (or its variants) kicks up a few links as well.

The iron artefacts, including a dagger, found in the are possibly made from meteoric iron, but whatever its origin iron was very rare and expensive, the Eygptians didn't start smelting iron until much later.

*Edited because of incoherence
 

brianellwood

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#3
Is this glass that can also be made from silica fused by lightning strikes? I think it's also called fulgarite or something similar.
 

littleblackduck

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#5
King Tut's necklace shaped by fireball
June 26, 2006
LONDON: Scientists believe they have solved the mystery surrounding a piece of rare natural glass at the centre of an elaborate necklace found among the treasures of Tutankhamun, the boy pharaoh.

They think a fragile meteorite broke up as it entered the atmosphere, producing a fireball with temperatures over 1800C that turned the desert sand and rock into molten lava that became glass when it cooled.

Experts have puzzled over the origin of the yellow-green glass -- carved into the shape of a scarab beetle -- since it was excavated in 1922 from the tomb of the teenage king, who died about 1323BC.

It is generally agreed the glass came from an area called the Great Sand Sea, but there has been uncertainty over how it was formed because there is no crater to back up the idea of a meteorite. Now it is thought the meteorite responsible was not intact but made up of loose rubble.

"A fireball moving quicker than a hurricane force would have meant a blast of air so hot it could melt all the sand and sandstone on the ground," said Mark Boslough, an expert on impact physics based at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

He recreated the effect on his computer and found that an object 120m in diameter and travelling at 20km a second would produce enough heat to melt sand and create glass without leaving a crater as it broke up in the atmosphere.

"It would have become a molten lake of bubbling liquid sand, and as the sand cooled it would have formed glass, which ended up in King Tutankhamun's jewellery," said Dr Boslough. The necklace with the 2.5cm oval glass is housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The object was one of hundreds of items discovered by the British archaeologist Howard Carter in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. In his diary, he described the brightly coloured gem as "greenish yellow chalcedony". But in 1999, geologists tested the composition of the scarab and concluded it was not chalcedony but natural desert glass, which is found only in the Great Sand Sea 800km southwest of Cairo.

Many meteorite craters can be seen only from space, so satellite photography experts examined the area. Farouk El-Baz, from Boston University, said: "If this glass is of meteoric origin, there should be a crater of that age.

"But we did not find a smoking gun for silica (glass) there," Dr El-Baz said.

The Sunday Times
 

littleblackduck

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#6
In the version of the myth of Phaeton's joy ride in his father (Apollo's) chariot that I read as a child, the land scorched by the approach of the Sun was Libya. The Greeks used this term for the land to the West of Egypt's fertile Nile valley and also to the South of Egypt (Egypt's wars with "Libya" were sometimes fought with the people to the West and sometimes with kingdoms in what is now the Sudan).

The Great Sand Sea where natural glass is found scattered over quite a large area is situated to the South West of Lower Egypt.

Plato attempts a naturalistic explanation of the myth of Phaeton in his Timaeus. I found this on webpage about Christianity and Catastrophism, which argues for a "Designed Universe":

..Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals...
The source is: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html

Modern science usually avoids classical mythology and biblical stories so as to avoid being lumped in with, and encouraging, every sort of amateur nutter and religious apologist and polemicist. It isn't so contemptuous of other, less threatening mythologies, such as native traditions in the Americas or elsewhere. but this connection between natural evidence and mythology is as solid, and even more solid, than many of the attempts to prise geological and astronomical confirmation out of native legends and oral history.

The glass has been there for thousands of years--explaining it would have become necessary as soon as the manufacture of glass became known (before then, nobody knew that sand fused into glass when heated) so you can't assume there were witnesses to the event itself, but what would a massive fireball look like if not the Sun falling to Earth?

A vast field of what is now known to be meteoric iron in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia gave rise to the myth of a heaven-blasted city (not unlike the biblical Sodom and her sisters, the Five Cities of the Plain) and the astonishing ressemblance of a mastodon's skull to a cyclopian giant's head has already been noted by scientists. Scientists do not disdain myth when it suits their purposes.

Since King Tut was the king whose reign saw the restoration of the worship of Amon, the God of Thebes, after a brief flirtation with Aten, a sun god, perhaps there was some sort of religio-political message in the green desert glass jewel worn by King Tut that has been missed by the archeologists and mythologists.

Just a thought, an hypothesis, if you will. But whatever the facts may be, there seems to be an interesting, if accidental, correlation between the fall of one sun god, and the crash of another god's son.

;)
 

Quake42

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#7
Tutankhamun's "space gem"

Tut's gem hints at space impact

In 1996 in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Italian mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele spotted an unusual yellow-green gem in the middle of one of Tutankhamun's necklaces.

The jewel was tested and found to be glass, but intriguingly it is older than the earliest Egyptian civilisation.

Working with Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat, they traced its origins to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in the sand in a remote region of the Sahara Desert.

But the glass is itself a scientific enigma. How did it get to be there and who or what made it?

Thursday's BBC Horizon programme reports an extraordinary new theory linking Tutankhamun's gem with a meteor.

An Austrian astrochemist Christian Koeberl had established that the glass had been formed at a temperature so hot that there could be only one known cause: a meteorite impacting with Earth. And yet there were no signs of an impact crater, even in satellite images.

American geophysicist John Wasson is another scientist interested in the origins of the glass. He suggested a solution that came directly from the forests of Siberia.

"When the thought came to me that it required a hot sky, I thought immediately of the Tunguska event," he tells Horizon.

In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia.

Although there was no sign of a meteorite impact, scientists now think an extraterrestrial object of some kind must have exploded above Tunguska. Wasson wondered if a similar aerial burst could have produced enough heat to turn the ground to glass in the Egyptian desert.

The first atomic bomb detonation, at the Trinity site in New Mexico in 1945, created a thin layer of glass on the sand. But the area of glass in the Egyptian desert is vastly bigger.

Whatever happened in Egypt must have been much more powerful than an atomic bomb.

A natural airburst of that magnitude was unheard of until, in 1994, scientists watched as comet Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter. It exploded in the Jovian atmosphere, and the Hubble telescope recorded the largest incandescent fireball ever witnessed rising over Jupiter's horizon.

Mark Boslough, who specialises in modelling large impacts on supercomputers, created a simulation of a similar impact on Earth.

The simulation revealed that an impactor could indeed generate a blistering atmospheric fireball, creating surface temperatures of 1,800C, and leaving behind a field of glass.

"What I want to emphasise is that it is hugely bigger in energy than the atomic tests," says Boslough. "Ten thousand times more powerful."

The more fragile the incoming object, the more likely these airborne explosions are to happen.

In Southeast Asia, John Wasson has unearthed the remains of an event 800,000 years ago that was even more powerful and damaging than the one in the Egyptian desert; one which produced multiple fireballs and left glass over three hundred thousand square miles, with no sign of a crater.

"Within this region, certainly all of the humans would have been killed. There would be no hope for anything to survive," he says.

According to Boslough and Wasson, events similar to Tunguska could happen as frequently as every 100 years, and the effect of even a small airburst would be comparable to many Hiroshima bombs.

Attempting to blow up an incoming asteroid, Hollywood style, could well make things worse by increasing the number of devastating airbursts.

"There are hundreds of times more of these smaller asteroids than there are the big ones the astronomers track," says Mark Boslough. "There will be another impact on the earth. It's just a matter of when."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5196362.stm
 
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#8
Horizon is on this tonight on BBC 2:

Horizon

Thu 20 Jul, 9:00 pm - 9:50 pm 50mins

Tutankhamun's Fireball

Documentary about how a team of scientists set out to solve the mystery of chunks of ancient glass scattered in a remote part of the Sahara Desert. Their quest takes them on a perilous journey into the Great Sand Sea, the wastes of Siberia and the test site of the world's first atomic bomb in New Mexico. What their search uncovers is a devastating new natural phenomenon
Longer article:

Tut's gem hints at space impact


In 1996 in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Italian mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele spotted an unusual yellow-green gem in the middle of one of Tutankhamun's necklaces.

The jewel was tested and found to be glass, but intriguingly it is older than the earliest Egyptian civilisation.

Working with Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat, they traced its origins to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in the sand in a remote region of the Sahara Desert.

But the glass is itself a scientific enigma. How did it get to be there and who or what made it?

Thursday's BBC Horizon programme reports an extraordinary new theory linking Tutankhamun's gem with a meteor.

Sky of fire

An Austrian astrochemist Christian Koeberl had established that the glass had been formed at a temperature so hot that there could be only one known cause: a meteorite impacting with Earth. And yet there were no signs of an impact crater, even in satellite images.

American geophysicist John Wasson is another scientist interested in the origins of the glass. He suggested a solution that came directly from the forests of Siberia.

"When the thought came to me that it required a hot sky, I thought immediately of the Tunguska event," he tells Horizon.

In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia.

Although there was no sign of a meteorite impact, scientists now think an extraterrestrial object of some kind must have exploded above Tunguska. Wasson wondered if a similar aerial burst could have produced enough heat to turn the ground to glass in the Egyptian desert.

Jupiter clue

The first atomic bomb detonation, at the Trinity site in New Mexico in 1945, created a thin layer of glass on the sand. But the area of glass in the Egyptian desert is vastly bigger.

Whatever happened in Egypt must have been much more powerful than an atomic bomb.

A natural airburst of that magnitude was unheard of until, in 1994, scientists watched as comet Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter. It exploded in the Jovian atmosphere, and the Hubble telescope recorded the largest incandescent fireball ever witnessed rising over Jupiter's horizon.

Mark Boslough, who specialises in modelling large impacts on supercomputers, created a simulation of a similar impact on Earth.

The simulation revealed that an impactor could indeed generate a blistering atmospheric fireball, creating surface temperatures of 1,800C, and leaving behind a field of glass.

"What I want to emphasise is that it is hugely bigger in energy than the atomic tests," says Boslough. "Ten thousand times more powerful."

Defence lessons

The more fragile the incoming object, the more likely these airborne explosions are to happen.

In Southeast Asia, John Wasson has unearthed the remains of an event 800,000 years ago that was even more powerful and damaging than the one in the Egyptian desert; one which produced multiple fireballs and left glass over three hundred thousand square miles, with no sign of a crater.

"Within this region, certainly all of the humans would have been killed. There would be no hope for anything to survive," he says.

According to Boslough and Wasson, events similar to Tunguska could happen as frequently as every 100 years, and the effect of even a small airburst would be comparable to many Hiroshima bombs.

Attempting to blow up an incoming asteroid, Hollywood style, could well make things worse by increasing the number of devastating airbursts.

"There are hundreds of times more of these smaller asteroids than there are the big ones the astronomers track," says Mark Boslough. "There will be another impact on the earth. It's just a matter of when."

----
Horizon: Tutunkhamen's Fireball, made by production company TV6 is on BBC Two at 2100 BST on Thursday, 20 July

------------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/s ... 196362.stm

Published: 2006/07/19 19:09:54 GMT

© BBC MMVI
 

Yithian

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#9
Utterly fascinating--This just covers so may bases of Fortean interest.

What if the huge explosion (10,000 times bigger than a nuclear bomb--certainly irradicating all life in the area) was the spark for early-Egyptians' belief in omnipotent and interventionist gods?

I wish I were in the UK to watch the documentary. FTMB researchers, can we get more on this?

In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia.
 
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#10
theyithian said:
Utterly fascinating. This just covers so may bases of Fortean interest. What if the huge (10,000 bigger than a nuclear bomb - certainly irradicating all life n the area), was the spark for early-egyptians' belief in omnipotent gods...
Unfortunately they reckon it happened 30 million years ago.

The documentary wa great if a bit scary as suggested such an impact would have the energy of thousands of nuclear bombs.

When they were discussing how an asteroid impact could have so much energy and I kept thinking "crashed UFO" ;)

theyithian said:
I wish I were in the UK to watch the documentary. FTMB researchers, can we get more on this?

In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia.
Tunguska thread is here:

www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17132
 

Yithian

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#12
Summary Piece

Good summary of knowns and theories. Also, thought this fascinating topic may be of interest to some. More comment soon.

Tut's gem hints at space impact

In 1996 in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Italian mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele spotted an unusual yellow-green gem in the middle of one of Tutankhamun's necklaces.

The jewel was tested and found to be glass, but intriguingly it is older than the earliest Egyptian civilisation.

Working with Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat, they traced its origins to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in the sand in a remote region of the Sahara Desert.

But the glass is itself a scientific enigma. How did it get to be there and who or what made it?

The BBC Horizon programme has reported an extraordinary new theory linking Tutankhamun's gem with a meteor.

Sky of fire

An Austrian astrochemist Christian Koeberl had established that the glass had been formed at a temperature so hot that there could be only one known cause: a meteorite impacting with Earth. And yet there were no signs of a suitable impact crater, even in satellite images.

American geophysicist John Wasson is another scientist interested in the origins of the glass. He suggested a solution that came directly from the forests of Siberia.

"When the thought came to me that it required a hot sky, I thought immediately of the Tunguska event," he told Horizon.

In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia.

Although there was no sign of a meteorite impact, scientists now think an extraterrestrial object of some kind must have exploded above Tunguska. Wasson wondered if a similar aerial burst could have produced enough heat to turn the ground to glass in the Egyptian desert.

Jupiter clue

The first atomic bomb detonation, at the Trinity site in New Mexico in 1945, created a thin layer of glass on the sand. But the area of glass in the Egyptian desert is vastly bigger.

Whatever happened in Egypt must have been much more powerful than an atomic bomb.

A natural airburst of that magnitude was unheard of until, in 1994, scientists watched as comet Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter. It exploded in the Jovian atmosphere, and the Hubble telescope recorded the largest incandescent fireball ever witnessed rising over Jupiter's horizon.

Mark Boslough, who specialises in modelling large impacts on supercomputers, created a simulation of a similar impact on Earth.

The simulation revealed that an impactor could indeed generate a blistering atmospheric fireball, creating surface temperatures of 1,800C, and leaving behind a field of glass.

"What I want to emphasise is that it is hugely bigger in energy than the atomic tests," said Boslough. "Ten thousand times more powerful."

Defence lessons

The more fragile the incoming object, the more likely these airborne explosions are to happen.

In Southeast Asia, John Wasson has unearthed the remains of an event 800,000 years ago that was even more powerful and damaging than the one in the Egyptian desert; one which produced multiple fireballs and left glass over three hundred thousand square miles, with no sign of a crater.

"Within this region, certainly all of the humans would have been killed. There would be no hope for anything to survive," he said.

According to Boslough and Wasson, events similar to Tunguska could happen as frequently as every 100 years, and the effect of even a small airburst would be comparable to many Hiroshima bombs.

Attempting to blow up an incoming asteroid, Hollywood style, could well make things worse by increasing the number of devastating airbursts.

"There are hundreds of times more of these smaller asteroids than there are the big ones the astronomers track," said Mark Boslough. "There will be another impact on the earth. It's just a matter of when."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5196362.stm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_f ... amun.shtml
 

feen5

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#13
That BBc programme is a couple of years old isn't it? I certainly remember seeing it.
 
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#14
Some more adornments from outer space.

Egyptian artefacts came from outer space
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/ ... 829786.htm
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
AFP

Meteoric iron beads (center) are pictured between ancient Egyptian necklaces

The team found higher than normal concentrations of nickel, phosphorus, cobalt and germanium in the iron beads (centre) (Source: Rob Eagle/UCL Petrie Museum)

Related Stories
Earth's gold fell from the sky, Science Online, 09 Sep 2011
Ancient Persians 'used chemical warfare', Science Online, 02 Feb 2009
Shoe found down Iron Age well, Science Online, 12 May 2005

Some of the earliest iron artefacts ever found - funeral beads strung around bodies in a 5000-year-old Egyptian cemetery - came from outer space, archaeologists have confirmed.

High-tech scanning of the beads, discovered by British archaeologists in the Lower Egypt village of el-Gerzeh in 1911, shows the metal came from a meteorite that landed on Earth.

The nine small beads, stored at the University College London (UCL) Petrie Museum, come from two burial sites dated to around 3200 BC, where they were found in necklaces along with exotic terrestrial minerals such as lapis lazuli, agate and gold.

Meteorite iron is an alloy that has a different composition from terrestrial iron.

The scientists teased out a signature of the elements in the beads through a non-destructive ID test called prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis (PGAA).

Under this, a sample is bathed in low-energy beams of neutrons. Elements in the sample absorb some of the neutrons and emit gamma rays in response, the level of which provides the telltale.

According to the study, which appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the team found higher than normal concentrations of nickel, phosphorus, cobalt and germanium in the iron beads.

X-ray scanners, meanwhile, showed that the meteorite iron had been repeatedly heated and hammered to make the precious jewels for the afterlife.

The researchers say the finding shows that the Egyptians were already advanced in the art in smithing by the fourth millennium BC.

Meteoritic iron is much harder and more brittle than copper, the commonly-worked material of the time.

"They were rolled and hammered into shape," says Thilo Rehren, a UCL professor of archaeology.

"This is very different technology from the usual stone bead drilling, and shows quite an advanced understanding of how the metal smiths worked this rather difficult material."

It's not the first time meteorite iron has been found among Egyptian jewellery.

In May, researchers from Open University and the University of Manchester published a paper in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science that showed iron beads found in the burial site were extraterrestrial in origin.
 

EnolaGaia

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#15
... The iron artefacts, including a dagger, found in the are possibly made from meteoric iron, but whatever its origin iron was very rare and expensive, the Eygptians didn't start smelting iron until much later.
An update, and confirmation, about the use of meteoric iron in Tut's dagger and similar Bronze Age artifacts ...

King Tut's Dagger Is 'Out of This World'
... Daggers, axes and jewelry made from rare iron during the Bronze Age are literally out of this world, according to new research finding that ancient artisans crafted these metal artifacts with iron from outer space carried to Earth by meteorites.

The finding upends the idea that a few artisans during the Bronze Age in the ancient Near East knew how to make iron by smelting it from Earth's crust.

Instead, it appears that Bronze Age metalworkers sought out meteorites to make these treasures, said study author Albert Jambon, a French archaeo-metallurgist and a professor at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, in Paris. ...

"Iron from the Bronze Age are meteoritic, invalidating speculations about precocious [early] smelting during the Bronze Age," Jambon wrote in the study. ...

Jambon tested the ancient iron daggers, including one from Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt, iron axes and pieces of iron jewelry from the ancient Near East and China with X-ray scans to identify their metals.

Last year, a study using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry determined that Tutankhamun’s dagger was made with iron containing nearly 11 percent nickel and traces of cobalt: a characteristic of extraterrestrial iron found in many of the iron meteorites that have rained down on Earth for billions of years. ...
FULL STORY: http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/king-tuts-necklace-and-the-myth-of-phaeton.26947/
 

Yithian

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#20
And for further specificity, the 'desert glass' in the pectoral scarab has been found to have been formed from a desert meteorite impact rather than an 'atmospheric airburst' (when a near-Earth object explodes, feeding energy into the atmosphere), which was also a possibility (see, for instance, post 5 in this thread).

Source:
https://phys.org/news/2019-05-planetary-scientists-unravel-mystery-egyptian.html
 
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