What's more, the researchers say the bead had a Widmanstätten pattern, a distinctive crystal structure found only in meteorites that cooled at an extremely slow rate inside asteroids when the solar system was forming, according to Nature. Further investigation also showed that the bead was not molded under heat, but rather hammered into shape by cold-working.
The first record of iron smelting in ancient Egypt comes from the sixth century B.C., and iron artifacts from before that time are quite rare, Nature reported.
"Today, we see iron first and foremost as a practical, rather dull metal," study researcher Joyce Tyldesley, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, said in a statement. "To the ancient Egyptians, however, it was a rare and beautiful material which, as it fell from the sky, surely had some magical/religious properties."
The iron beads' inclusion in burials also suggests this material was deeply important to ancient Egyptians, Tyldesley added.
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