Keris forum moderator
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: The Great Midwest
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
David, I do not understand what is meant by "the Iron Age Proper", however the Hittites were the first technologically advanced people to produce iron tools, artifacts and weapons in any considerable number, and the Hittites had developed viable iron tools and weapons by about 1500BC.
The Hittite Empire collapsed in about 1200BC, and immediately after this collapse the rise of iron technology occurred in Cyprus and Greece. With the rise of iron technology in Greece there was a leap in production of iron artifacts. Also from about 1200 BC we have the first evidence from Cyprus of iron with a carbon content --- ie, steel --- that has been quenched.
It appears that although iron with a carbon content has been found from earlier dates, there was no consistency in the carburisation process, it was an accidental carburisation that had resulted from carburisation in the forge, rather than carburisation in a bloomery. However, carbon content of iron by itself is not enough to produce a tool or weapon that is markedly superior to bronze, that iron with the carbon content needs to be heated and quenched. It would seem that this did not occur until after about 1200BC, so maybe that is what is meant by "Iron Age Proper" .
While it is true that the Ancient Egyptians did cold forge meteoritic material to produce talismans, they did not begin to produce iron tools and weapons until about 500-600BC, when iron smelting technology became available.
Egypt at the time of Tutankhamen did not possess the technology to produce a blade like the KT dagger, but the Hittites did, and there were diplomatic and marriage ties between the Egyptian court and the Hittite court.
For those of us who come from a European cultural background, our idea of the Iron Age tends to focus on the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin, however, it should not be forgotten that evidence of iron working that could date back to 1800BC has been found in Uttar Pradesh in India, where it seems to be associated with the migrations of the Vedic People. The evidence includes slag, tuyeres and remains of furnaces.
If we think of the "The Iron Age" in terms of the entire world, I really do think that that the opinion that the Iron Age began with Greece and Cyprus is a rather limited point of view.
Alan, i was not trying to create an new or confusing terminology by referring to the "Iron Age proper". It is simply that 1200 BC is the date that most historians seem to agree on for the beginning of the Iron Age. I believe i was quite clear that knowledge of forging iron was in existence for at least hundreds of years before this date, but i suppose that historians tend to not mark us as being fully into the Iron Age until the process became more commonplace rather than a technology held by just a single civilization.
Now, i am still not convinced that the process described here for determining the origins of the material for the KT dagger is fool proof or accurate, but if we are to assume that the dagger is indeed made from meteoric ore then i see no reason why it could not have been made by Egyptians in 1300 BC since forging with a big chunk of iron meteorite apparently does not require the use of smelting technology.
This, of course, does not count out the possibility that it might have been a gift from the Hittites. There was know communication between these two great civilizations and apparently King Tut's widow sought to marry a Hittite prince soon after her husband's death.
"A crisis of succession gripped the royal court. With power plays and intrigues surely seething around her, Tut's widow, Ankhesenamun, appears to have launched a coup of her own, sending desperate letters to the king of the Hittites in Anatolia. "My husband is dead," she wrote. "Send me your son and I will make him king." It was an unprecedented request, but understandable. "Her grandmother was Queen Tiye, one of the most powerful queens Egypt ever saw," Ray Johnson explained. "Her mother was Nefertiti. They ruled as living goddesses, so of course Ankhesenamun felt she had the same power. And she found out that she didn't."
A Hittite prince, Zannanza, was eventually sent south to marry her, but he was killed—by a hit squad, some speculate—as he entered Egyptian territory. An elder courtier named Aye, possibly Ankhesenamun's grandfather, then became pharaoh."
But there is a reason the move that King Tut's widow attempted is considered "unprecedented".
It was the era from about 1500-1200 BC that Egypt had the most contact with the Hittites. However, they were for much of that time an adversary if not an outright enemy of the Egyptians. The Hittites were more likely to desire planting such a dagger into the heart of the Egyptian pharaoh rather than gifting it to him. It was Ramses II who brokered the first peace treaty with the Hittites in 1258 BC, but that was not until nearly a century after the death of King Tut. It is actually acknowledged by many historians as the first peace treaty ever recorded by both sides. He did indeed marry a Hittite princess a few years later. I am not aware of any particular diplomatic relationship during King Tut's time or before where the Hittites would be likely to gift a beautiful dagger such as this one to the Egyptian pharaoh, nor any intermarriages between these courts before Ramses II.