January 24, 2021


Aim for Excellence

Bristol leads archaeologists on 5,000-year-old egg hunt

Picture: This is a figure exhibiting spots of examine. check out more  Credit score: © Tamar...

Picture: This is a figure exhibiting spots of examine.
check out more 

Credit score: © Tamar Hodos, University of Bristol

An global group of professionals, led by the University of Bristol, is closer to cracking a 5,000-calendar year-aged mystery encompassing the ancient trade and manufacturing of adorned ostrich eggs.

Lengthy in advance of Fabergé, ornate ostrich eggs had been really prized by the elites of Mediterranean civilisations throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages, but to day small has been recognised about the advanced provide chain powering these luxurious goods.

Inspecting ostrich eggs from the British Museum’s selection, the group, led by Bristol’s Dr Tamar Hodos, had been ready to expose strategies about their origin and how and where by they had been built. Working with condition-of-the-art scanning electron microscopy, Dr Caroline Cartwright, Senior Scientist at the British Museum was ready to look into the eggs’ chemical make-up to pinpoint their origins and examine minute marks that expose how they had been built.

In the examine, printed these days in the journal Antiquity, the researchers explain for the 1st time the remarkably advanced method powering ostrich egg manufacturing. This includes evidence about where by the ostrich eggs had been sourced, if the ostriches had been captive or wild, and how the manufacture strategies can be associated to strategies and materials employed by artisans in certain spots.

“The whole method of adorned ostrich egg manufacturing was considerably far more complex than we had imagined! We also observed evidence to advise the ancient globe was considerably far more interconnected than formerly believed,” mentioned Dr Hodos, Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology in Bristol’s School of Arts.

“Mediterranean ostriches had been indigenous to the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. Working with a wide variety of isotopic indicators, we had been ready to distinguish eggs laid in different climatic zones (cooler, wetter and hotter, drier). What was most surprising to us was that eggs from both zones had been observed at web-sites in the other zone, suggestive of far more considerable trade routes.”

Dr Hodos and colleagues imagine eggs had been taken from wild birds’ nests in spite of evidence of ostriches getting retained in captivity throughout this period of time. This was no everyday egg-hunt – ostriches can be particularly perilous so there was a huge hazard included in using eggs from wild birds.

“We also observed eggs demand time to dry in advance of the shell can be carved and therefore demand secure storage. This has economic implications, because storage necessitates a extensive-term investment and this, merged with the hazard included, would include to an egg’s luxurious price,” mentioned Dr Hodos.

The examine is part of an ongoing analysis challenge into ancient luxurious goods, Globalising Luxuries.

Dr Hodos points out: “We are evaluating not only how ancient luxuries had been created but also how they had been employed by different peoples. These concerns are amazingly critical for our personal culture these days, in which the similar item may possibly have different social or symbolic meanings for different teams. These types of awareness and being familiar with assists foster tolerance and mutual respect in a multi-cultural culture. If we can fully grasp these mechanisms in the past, for which we have extensive-term outcomes in phrases of social advancement, we can use this awareness to greater inform our personal culture in a quantity of means.”

Dr Caroline Cartwright, Senior Scientist, Office of Scientific Study, British Museum, mentioned

“The British Museum is delighted to collaborate with colleagues at the universities of Bristol and Durham on this ongoing analysis. Working with condition-of-the-art scanning electron microscope services in the British Museum’s Office of Scientific Study, our gurus had been ready to examine these gorgeous objects and forged new gentle on their importance in heritage. We glance ahead to continuing to work with university associates and furthering the awareness and being familiar with of the Museum’s selection.”


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