Qarabawi’s Camel Charm: Tracing the meteoritic origins of a cultural artifact

Rhiannon G. Mayne, Catherine M. Corrigan, Timothy J. McCoy, James M. D. Day, Timothy R. Rose

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
Version of Record online:09 May 2020


“Qarabawi’s Camel Charm was acquired from Abdullah Qarabawi of the Ababda tribe of eastern Egypt. The charm consists of a chain with four links and an ~6.5 cm diameter flattened disk with the Arabic inscription “Allahu Akbar,” which translates as “God is Greatest.” Belief in the evil eye is prevalent among the Ababda, even to the modern day, and as men identify camels and the cultural objects and activities related to them as one of their most important possessions, charms and amulets are often used to ward off its influence. Nondestructive analyses of the disk and metallographic examination of the distal link reveal a deformed medium octahedral pattern, confirming the meteoritic origin of the Camel Charm. Major, minor, and trace element compositions are consistent with classification as a IIIAB iron. Combined heating to modest temperatures (~600 °C) and cold working were used in the manufacture of the Camel Charm. Although compositionally similar to the Wabar IIIAB irons, chemical differences, the significant distance between Wabar and eastern Egypt, and the lack of established trade routes suggest that the Camel Charm source material was a meteorite unknown as an unworked specimen. This meteorite has been given the name Wadi El Gamal, the name of a National Park in the Ababda homelands.”