Unbroken "thousand-year eggs" found in Chinese tomb

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NANJING– Archaeologists on Monday unearthed a jar filled with eggs, with only one broken, from a 2,500-year-old tomb in east China's Jiangsu Province. 


Researchers from Nanjing Museum's Institute of Archaeology said the pottery jar, sealed with a lid, was found in a large tomb in Shangxing Town, the city of Liyang. 


Zhou Hengming, an archaeologist at the site, said they refrained from touching the millennia-old eggs for fear of causing damage and would instead use X-rays to confirm the exact number. 


"The egg white and yolk have largely decomposed, but via DNA tests we will be able to identify whether they were pickled," said Lin Liugen, head of the Institute of Archaeology. 


Lin said the funerary objects may reflect religious beliefs or simply habits -- the tomb owner might have enjoyed eating eggs and decided to keep this penchant alive after death. 


"Eggs bring forth new life, so the jar might also symbolize a continuity of life through numerous progeny," Lin said. 
It was not the first time eggs were found in ancient Chinese tombs, but the discovery of a jar of unbroken eggs is rare, as scientists say it is difficult for eggshells to remain intact for so long. 


In 2015, archeologists in southwest China's Guizhou Province found an egg from a tomb dating back more than 2,000 years, but the shell cracked upon the touch of the researchers' cleaning brush. Enditem 
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