Iron – Utility or Rarity?
Ceremonial weapons are all very well. They look splendid when you ascend the throne. The goldsmith was probably the best in the land — look at all those animals on the sheath (click on the image to enlarge it).
What insights can we draw from this dagger from Tut’s tomb? The blade is gold alloyed with copper to harden it, but it can’t have been a practical weapon. So the boy Pharoah who carried this never had to defend himself (or didn’t expect to need to after death) — that’s what he had guards for. Judging from his physical remains, he may have been unfit and walked with a cane. The cause of his death at 19 is disputed.
So, this dagger defended his reign, the right of his dynasty to rule (but he had no issue, so the 18th Dynasty ended with him). It was a beautiful, treasured, symbolic weapon.
But before we jump to conclusions, there was a second dagger found in his tomb, this one with a meteoric iron blade. (Notice that the haft for the iron blade can’t be the original, since it’s shorter than the tang of the blade requires.) Given the similar haft and sheath treatment in gold, there is speculation that the iron blade was valued as highly as the gold one. Certainly it’s more practical as a weapon, being able to take an edge. Read More →