This is the oldest egg in the world: found intact and still full of liquid, it is over 1700 years old

Extraordinary discovery in England: a 1700-year-old egg with internal liquid found in a Roman archaeological site in Berryfields, testifying to unique natural preservation

In the heart of England, beneath layers of earth that narrate millennia of history, a team of archaeologists has unearthed an unexpected treasure, challenging our understanding of natural preservation and opening a window to the distant past: an egg, surviving almost intact through the abyss of time for over 1700 years.

This discovery took place in 2019, when the Oxford Archaeology agency conducted excavations at the Roman-era archaeological site located at Berryfields, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

In the heart of England

Presumed to be a hen’s egg, it was found alongside three other eggs in a water-filled pit. However, due to their fragility, only one remained intact after the recovery operations, coordinated by Dr. Steve Leech. The others, upon breaking, released a strong sulfur smell, as reported by the archaeologists.

This “miraculously” preserved egg was later analyzed using advanced laboratory techniques, revealing the presence of liquid inside, a result of the yolk and white merging over the centuries.

A unique find in the world

This find is the world’s oldest known bird egg to have naturally preserved with liquid inside. While there are examples of mummified eggs from the Egyptian era, those were subjected to specific treatments by humans. The experts at Oxford Archaeology attribute the remarkable preservation of the egg to its particular discovery location, near Akeman Street.

Initially, the pit was used for malting and beer production, before transforming into a worship site by the end of the 3rd century A.D., where the local Romans left offerings. The constant presence of water allowed for the preservation of various objects, including the eggs likely offered to the deities.

After its recovery, the egg was carefully preserved until analyzed by Dana Goodburn-Brown of DGB Conservation at the University of Kent. Thanks to micro-CT scans that generated three-dimensional images, the presence of liquid and an internal air bubble was confirmed, making the egg unique in the world, as enthusiastically announced by Drs. Douglas Russell and Arianna Bernucci, specialists in egg and nest studies at the Natural History Museum of London.

The fact that the egg retains its liquid core makes it a specimen without parallel globally. We are eager to discover what this extraordinarily precious find will reveal.

Given the exceptional nature of this find, it is unlikely that another similar specimen will be found. Researchers are currently evaluating the best method to analyze the liquid content without damaging the extremely fragile shell.

Sources: Oxford ArchaeologyBuckinghamshire Council

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