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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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New Thoughts on the Origins of King Tut’s Yellow Scarab

Monday, May 20, 2019

Egypt meteor glassBENTLEY, AUSTRALIA—Live Science reports that a carved piece of canary-yellow glass worn as pectoral ornament by Egypt’s King Tutankhamun was likely formed by ground-based shock waves initiated by a meteorite impact some 29 million years ago. Aaron Cavosie of Curtin University led a team of researchers who analyzed grains of the mineral zircon found in similar pieces of glass recovered in the Libyan desert. It had been previously suggested that such yellow glass could have been formed by the heat and pressure created by an asteroid that exploded near the Earth, in an event known as an airburst. But Cavosie and his colleagues detected evidence that the zircon in the glass samples had transformed from reidite, a mineral only formed under pressure so intense it must have been triggered by an actual meteor impact. Cavosie explained that although airbursts happen more frequently than meteor impacts, they do not cause as much damage. To read about another recent discovery in Egypt, go to “Family Secrets.”

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