Jewel in King Tut's necklace created by possible asteroid impact

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A jewel that once belonged to King Tutankhamen of ancient Egypt is believed to have been created by an exploding meteorite entering Earth's atmosphere "hugely bigger in energy than the atomic [bomb] tests," said geophysicist John Wasson. The explosion was "Ten thousand times more powerful," added Wasson.

The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority says the jewel is composed of 98% silica or glass, making it the purest jewel of its kind on the planet and can only be found in a certain area of the Sahara Desert.

Wasson also says the impact that created the jewel can be compared to the "Tunguska event" that occurred in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908 causing at least 80 million trees to be flattened, but left no visible impact crater.

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

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The event was recreated by a computer simulation. The results of the simulation reveal that the impact of a meteorite or an event similar to Tunguska could have been the cause of the formation and heating the ground up to nearly 1,800 degrees Celsius causing a thin layer of glass to form on the Earth's surface at the site of an impact.

Researchers also added that events like this are likely to happen at least every 100 years or so. Wasson says there are likely to be more impacts; it's "just a matter of when."

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