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An intact Roman egg was found in the United Kingdom, a discovery that researchers described as “surprising.”

An intact Roman egg was found in the United Kingdom, a discovery that researchers described as “surprising.”

(CNN) — Researchers solved one of the mysteries hidden inside the egg Romanian: It still contains its liquid after almost two thousand years.

“This is the an egg “The oldest unintentionally preserved bird I've ever seen,” said Douglas J. D. Russell, chief curator of bird eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum (NHM), who was asked about the best way to preserve an ancient egg. “That makes it fascinating.”

He noted that there are older eggs with contents still inside, such as the series of mummified eggs at the National Museum of Museums, which may have been excavated in Egypt in 1898, but there are no other known examples of naturally preserved eggs older than that.

The egg was first discovered in 2010 along with three others in Aylesbury, England, about 80 kilometers northwest of London, during an excavation by the Oxford Archaeological Society, senior project director Edward Biddulph of the University of Oxford Archaeology told CNN on Monday. .

Biddulph added that the pottery and other finds discovered next to the egg date back to the late 3rd century AD, which also allows archaeologists to estimate its age.

Next to the eggs was found a woven basket believed to contain bread. Credit: Oxford Archeology

The eggs are located in a well that was used to provide water for brewing and fermentation until about 270 A.D., and archaeologists believe the eggs were left there as a gift to the gods once the well became abandoned, Biddulph said.

He added, “This type of area in the Roman world tends to encourage rituals… such as making sacrifices to the gods or good luck, just as people do today by throwing coins into fountains.”

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The archaeologists said in a statement that three of the four eggs discovered were complete, but because of their extreme fragility, two of them cracked once they were removed from the humid conditions that kept them in good condition, emitting a “sulphurous odor.” time.

Researchers only discovered the liquid inside the single remaining egg in August, when Biddulph said he enlisted conservator Dana Goodburn-Brown, along with the University of Kent, to perform a micro-CT scan of the egg, showing that its yolk and white were surprisingly white. They were still there.

“I've never seen anything like it before,” Biddulph said. “It's amazing. It looked so modern, it looked so new.”

He added that handling such a fragile and precious discovery left Biddulph with his “heart in his mouth” at times. He added that the egg had left Godburn-Brown particularly “stressed” when he took it to a special box on public transport in London to examine it, but the egg remained largely safe in his offices.

A micro-CT scan of the egg showed that it still had fluid inside it. Credit: Chris Dunmore and the Life Sciences Imaging Center at the University of Kent

“In the future, it will be very interesting to see whether we can use any of the modern imaging and analytical techniques available here at the NHM to shed more light on exactly which species laid the eggs and their potential archaeological significance,” Russell said.

Biddulph added that the researchers plan to carefully extract the liquid to study it better, in a process similar to blowing an egg, where a small hole is made in its shell after creating a 3D model.

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“No one has ever seen anything like this before, so each stage of the investigation creates new moments with amazing potential,” he said. “It's very exciting.”