Residents of Sardis, an ancient city in modern-day Turkey, spent decades rebuilding after a devastating earthquake struck one night in the year 17. To ward off demons and future disasters, some locals may have sealed eggshells under their new floors as lucky charms, archaeologists found.
In the summer of 2013, archaeologists were excavating an ancient building at Sardis that was constructed after the earthquake. Underneath the floor, they found two curious containers. Each of them held small bronze tools, an eggshell and a coin, resting just atop the remains of an earlier elite building that was destroyed during the disaster.
Elizabeth Raubolt, an archaeologist at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has worked on the excavations at Sardis as a Roman pottery specialist for the past four field seasons. When she presented her findings this month at the Archaeological Institute of America's annual meeting in Chicago, she noted that several superstitions in the ancient world involved eggs.
The Roman historian Pliny wrote about how people would immediately break or pierce the shells of eggs with a spoon after eating them to ward off evil spells. Sometimes, whole eggs were buried at someone's gate to put a curse on that person.
"You can imagine how nice it smelled after a while," Raubolt said.