And now from the files of our ‘Too Much Information Life Hacks Department’… While you might have heard pickling eggs is a great way to extend their shelf life, did you know preserving them in poo can keep them in near-mint condition for 1,000 years?
Well, in near-mint archaeological condition, at any rate.
While in no way fit for human consumption, a centuries-old chicken egg in a near-pristine state—or as pristine as an object that’s been cocooned in ca-ca for 10 centuries can be—was recently discovered during an Israel Antiquities Authority-led excavation of a Byzantine-era cesspit in the city of Yavne.
For those unfamiliar, back in the day, a cesspit served as your basic open-air septic tank/dumpster. In addition to human excrement, cesspits served as the repository for all manner of waste products.
Along with the superannuated egg, a trio of Islamic Period bone dolls was also recovered from the site. (Giving new meaning to the phrase, “Holy crap!” we suppose.)
Archaeologists report it’s not all that unusual to find ostrich eggs of this vintage still intact, however, with much thinner shells, unearthing—or in the case, un-dunging—a whole hen’s egg from this period is an extremely rare occurrence.
“Even today, eggs rarely survive for long in supermarket cartons,” IAA archeologist Alla Nagorsky told The Times of Israel. “It’s amazing to think this is a 1,000-year-old find!”
Since it’s a good bet that, like their modern-day counterparts, Byzantine chickens likely crossed the road to get to the other side rather than to lay their eggs in oversized community chamber pots, scientists were initially a bit baffled as to how an unscathed specimen (versus the more customary shell fragments) came to be ensconced in the stool pile in the first place.
But no matter how the little clucker got stuck in the muck, save for a hairline fracture, the eggshell was structurally sound. “[It] had a small crack in the bottom so most of the contents had leaked out of it,” Nagorsky said. “Only some of the yolk remained, which was preserved for future DNA analysis.”
Well, better that than an omelet.