Archaeologists unravel mystery of ancient decorated ostrich eggs

Hyperaxion Apr 17, 2020

A team of archaeologists has solved the mystery of ancient decorated and adorned ostrich eggs. The experts found out where they were made and how they were sold.

Ostrich eggs painted, engraved and adorned with ivory and precious metals were traded as luxury goods throughout the Mediterranean during the Bronze and Iron Age. Most likely, decorated eggs must have been imported from the Middle East or North Africa, where ostriches were commonly found.

Archaeologists unravel mystery of ancient decorated ostrich eggs
Decorated ostrich eggs on display at the British Museum in London. (Credit: British Museum).

However, the uncertainty of the origin of these eggs prevailed. Until a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol revealed the secrets about the origin of these mysterious ostrich eggs.

The team of researchers used advanced state-of-the-art microscopic technology to check the chemical composition of the eggs, in order to identify their origin and study how they were decorated.

“The entire system of decorated ostrich egg production was much more complicated than we had imagined,” says research leader Tamar Hodos, according to Sci-News. “We found evidence to suggest the ancient world was much more interconnected than previously thought.”

Archaeologists found that eggs from different areas were interconnected by trade routes that were more extensive than previously thought. In addition, they believe that the eggs were taken from wild nests, contradicting the idea that the birds were kept in captivity.

Where the study took place.
Where the study took place. (Credit: University of Cambridge).

The results of the investigation were published this month in the scientific journal Antiquity.

“We also found eggs require time to dry before the shell can be carved and therefore require safe storage,” explained Hodos. “This has economic implications, since storage necessitates a long-term investment and this, combined with the risk involved, would add to an egg’s luxury value.”


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