Goose egg - ROM2018_16363_59


Goose egg

Geography: Egypt
Period: Undetermined Period
6.9 x 4.8 cm
Object number: 909.80.618
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Although egg shells are often found in archaeological sites in Egypt, there is no evidence that the ancient people ate eggs.  The shells we find may be evidence of hatching eggs (sometimes by burying them in dung for incubation) for chicks, rather than as ends in themselves.  Eggs can be seen in wall paintings, among the piles of food on offering tables, but these may be included to ensure a future supply of chicks, rather than as food.  There are images of Egyptians eating many foods, particularly at Amarna, but none of Egyptians eating eggs, and no literary evidence, either. They are not part of the standard offering forumla.

Osterich egg shells were used to make beads, and the whole osterich egg seems to have been esteemed, but for what, we do not know. 

Some parts of the egg, possibly the yolk, were used in medicine, sometimes to be applied externally, but in at least one instance as part of a prescription for controlling diarrhoea.

Many cultures have taboos on egg-eating by some classes of society.  In recent times, the Nuer of South Sudan forbade eggs to adult males, believing them fit food only for women and children.  Perhaps there was some such taboo in ancient Egypt.

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing where or why Charles Currelley picked up this particular egg shell and thought it worthy of the collection.

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