(CNN) — Researchers have deciphered one of the mysteries hidden inside a Roman egg: its fluid is still present after almost two millennia.
When asked about the discovery, Douglas GD Russell, senior curator of bird eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum (NHM), told CNN on Monday: “This is the oldest unearthed preserved bird egg ever found , that I have seen.” Keep old eggs safe. “That makes it attractive.”
He noted that there are older eggs that still have their contents inside, such as a series of mummified eggs at the NHM, possibly excavated in Egypt in 1898, but there are no other known examples of naturally preserved eggs that are so old. .
The egg was first discovered in 2010 during a dig by the charity Oxford Archeology along with three others in Aylesbury, England, about 80 kilometers northwest of London, senior project manager Edward Biddulph told CNN on Monday. From Oxford Archaeology.
Biddulph said pottery and other items found next to the egg date back to the late 3rd century AD, which also allows archaeologists to estimate its age.
Biddulph said it was located in a well that was used to supply water for malting and fermentation until about 270 A.D. Archaeologists believe the eggs were offered as a gift to the gods after the well fell into disuse. I was left there.
He added, “In the Roman world these types of areas encouraged rituals…such as offerings to the gods or wishes, just as people do today by throwing coins into fountains.”
Three of the four eggs discovered were whole, but given their extreme fragility, two broke when removed from the humid conditions, causing them to emit a “sulphurous aroma,” archaeologists said in a statement. Time.
It was not until August that researchers discovered the liquid inside a leftover egg, when Biddulph said he commissioned Dana Goodburn-Brown, a conservator with the University of Kent, to perform a micro-CT of the egg, which led to the discovery. It turned out that its yolk and whiteness were amazing. They were still present.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Biddulph said. “It’s amazing. It seemed very modern, it seemed very new.”
Handling such a delicate and precious discovery sometimes puts Biddulph’s heart in his mouth, he added. He reported that he was particularly “nervous” when Goodburn-Brown took it in a special box on London public transport for examination, but the egg remained largely unharmed in his offices.
“In the future, it will be very exciting to see if we can use any of the modern imaging and analysis techniques available at the NHM to shed more light on exactly which species laid the eggs and their potential archaeological significance,” Russell he said.
Biddulph said the researchers plan to carefully extract the liquid for better study, similar to the process of cracking an egg, where a small hole is made in the shell after creating a 3D model.
He said, “Nobody has seen anything like this before, so each stage of the investigation creates new moments of incredible potential.” “it’s very exciting”.