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January 12, 2023 9:04 am

Prehistoric Omelet: 4,000-Year-Old Ostrich Eggs Uncovered in Israel’s Negev

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Excavation site in Israel. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons

i24 NewsOver 4,000-year-old rare ostrich eggs were uncovered near an ancient fire pit in the Nitzana dunes in Israel’s Negev desert.

The eight eggs are preliminarily dated between 4,000 and 7,500 years ago, found during an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeological excavation in the agricultural fields of Be’er Milka. The Jewish National Fund and the Ramat Negev Regional Council initiated the excavation for plans to prepare new agrarian land for Be’er Milka, a moshav in southern Israel.

“We found a campsite – which extends over about 200 sq. miles – that was used by the desert nomads since prehistoric times,” says Lauren Davis, the Israel Antiquities Authority excavation director. “At the site, we found burnt stones, flint and stone tools as well as pottery shards, but the truly special find is this collection of ostrich eggs.”

Ostriches were common in the area from the early prehistoric periods until they became extinct in the wild in the course of the 19th century. Their eggs have been found in archaeological sites for several periods, reflecting ostrich eggs’ importance as a raw material.

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“Although the nomads did not build permanent structures at this site, the finds allow us to feel their presence in the desert,” Davis continued. “These campsites were quickly covered over by the dunes and were re-exposed with the sand movement over hundreds and thousands of years. This fact explains the exceptional preservation of the eggs, allowing us a glimpse into the lives of the nomads who roamed the desert in ancient times.”

Davis adds that post-excavation scientific examination will add information regarding the exact age of the site. “After the excavation, we will reconstruct the eggs, just like a puzzle. The whole egg may tell us the species and exactly what they were used for.”

“As far as I’m concerned, every eggshell is worth its weight in gold! I am really looking forward to the research in the labs. The best is yet ahead!”

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