An alien necklace in King Tut‘s tomb? Too right, and it’s no myth or quackery. A pectoral found during Howard Carter‘s 1922 expedition to the boy-king’s funerary masterpiece is thought to contain the remnants of a meteor impact in the desert, thousands of years before the first stones were laid in Saqqara. The amazing story began 77 years after Carter’s discovery, when Italian geologist noticed something odd about a yellow-green scarab in the pectoral’s centre. Subsequent tests proved the lump of glass was older than any Egyptian civilization – a lot older, in fact.
After much research, experts traced the scarab back to the Great Sand Sea, 500 miles southwest of Cairo, in which there are huge lumps of glass poking out of the dunes. The general opinion is that a meteor hit the desert thousands of years ago, heating the sand enough to create lumps of glass. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this supposed impact, the first atomic bomb test created a thin layer of glass in the New Mexico desert – chunks of glass the size of human heads can be picked up in the Great Sand Sea.
Experts had long been put off the scarab’s extraterrestrial scent by Carter‘s own definition. In his records, the great explorer describes the jewel as being “greenish yellow chalcedony”. However, Vincenzo de Michele spotted that the gem was in fact natural desert glass in 1999, shooting him to the centre of one of Egypt’s great mysteries: a mystery not least because there’s no evidence a meteor has ever struck the desert.
“If this glass is of meteoric origin then there should be a crater of that age,” says Boston University’s Farouk El-Baz. “But we did not find a smoking gun for silica (glass) there.” Chunks of glass were found in the Great Sand Sea by British surveyor Patrick Clayton, in 1932. “He ran into this funny area with this glistening stuff all over the place,” says son Peter. Could the scarab have come from some aliens who crash landed into our planet? There’s certainly no shortage of crackpot theorists who think Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Mayans traveled to the stars – could Tutankhamun have been one of Earth’s earliest cosmonauts? After all, we’ve got RoboScarabs roaming the pyramids!