Towards an Interpretive Framework for Burnt Ostrich Eggshell: An Experimental Study

Author(s): Robert Diehl

Year: 2017


Ostrich eggs have been a valuable resource for Sub-Saharan populations for thousands of years, offering a rich nutritional source as well as a means of transporting water. While burned ostrich eggshell (OES) fragments are common at sites, it is difficult to determine whether they were subsistence refuse or the disposed remnants of canteens. Current tools for analyzing OES burning conditions involve expensive and time consuming isotopic analysis or scanning electron microscopy. This research aims to develop an interpretive framework for differentiating cooked OES from that burned through disposal or natural circumstances based on easily observed and measured criteria. This will be achieved through burning experiments with the intention of distinguishing shells heated while the egg was whole or in fragments as well as surface or subsurface burnings. This poster will present data regarding patterns of coloration, surface morphologies, and physical properties. This research will have implications for site interpretation in terms of seasonality, subsistence strategies, mobility, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

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Towards an Interpretive Framework for Burnt Ostrich Eggshell: An Experimental Study. Robert Diehl. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429885)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16053