Based on an innovative geochemical approach, enabling distinction between terrestrial from extraterrestrial forms of iron, he found zero evidence of precocious smelting during the Bronze Age, Jambon reports in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Of course, ancients might have been smelting iron earlier than we think. But it is now abundantly clear that before the Iron Age, ancient artisans would help themselves to iron from meteorites, which they would hammer into shapes that could be quite elaborate.
Over decades evidence accrued that the iron was of meteoric, not terrestrial, origin.
In fact, having discovered a more common source of iron than meteorites, people began using iron very quickly throughout the Near East, as iron weapons proved a lot tougher than bronze, which became relegated to the stuff of decorations – as iron had beforehand.
In fact, the iron work found with Tutankhamen's remains had been of such high quality that latter-day archaeologists speculated the ancient Egyptians had achieved "significant mastery" of iron-working, centuries before the Iron Age began.