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Incubated eggs in a Roman burial? A preliminary investigation on how to distinguish between the effects of incubation and taphonomy on avian eggshell from archaeological sites

Sichert, Benjamin M. and Rentzel, Philippe and Demarchi, Beatrice and Beste, Julia and Negric, Arianna and Deschler-Erb, Sabine. (2019) Incubated eggs in a Roman burial? A preliminary investigation on how to distinguish between the effects of incubation and taphonomy on avian eggshell from archaeological sites. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 26. p. 101845.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/73541/

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Abstract

Microscopic analyses can be used to determine whether fragments of eggshell come from hatched, incubated or non-incubated eggs. This information is essential for their interpretation since the developmental state of eggs often permits archaeologists to draw conclusions about the function of these finds at a site. However, what has often been neglected in previous studies is the fact that not only incubation but also taphonomy may affect the microstructure of shells. This preliminary study aims to demonstrate that taphonomic processes can in fact imitate site specific dissolution features that are commonly interpreted as traces of incubation. One likely cause of this could be bacteria or other microorganisms. The paper further introduces an approach by which a distinction between taphonomic and embryonic dissolution may be possible. The successful application of this technique on seemingly incubated eggs from a late Roman burial of Ober-Olm (Germany) indicates that these shells were altered only by taphonomy and not by embryonic development as initially assumed. It is finally emphasized that the preliminary data of this investigation need to be validated in future research.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Fachbereich Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Provinzialrömische Archäologie > Vindonissa Professur Provinzialrömische Archäologie (Schwarz)
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Integrative Prähistorische und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie (IPNA)
UniBasel Contributors:Deschler-Erb, Sabine and Rentzel, Philippe and Sichert, Benjamin Marcellus
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:2352-409X
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Identification Number:
Last Modified:03 Feb 2020 13:52
Deposited On:03 Feb 2020 13:52

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