- A 2,000-year-old egg was unearthed by archaeologists in southeast China
- The fragile find dates back to the Han dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD)
- The artefact resembles a chicken egg in size and shape
- Han people preferred to bring household items to their tombs
Archaeologists digging in southwest China have discovered an egg that is over 2,000 years old.
Researchers with the provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology made the miraculous discovery when they were exploring an ancient tomb from the Han dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD) at Huangjinwan ruins, The People's Daily Online reported.
The site, near Xishui County, was discovered in 2009.
Zhang Gaike, who heads up ruins' excavation project, said that the egg resembles a chicken egg in shape and size.
The delicate egg is filled with soil.
'We tried to clean the mud on the shell,' said Mr Zhang, 'but as soon as the brush touched the shell, it cracked.'
It is the first time an egg has been found in a tomb in Guizhou province, and Mr Zhang said it showcased the difference in the tombs of the Han dynasty and the earlier dynasties of Shang and Zhou.
He explained that during the Shang and Zhou dynasties people preferred being buried with delicate bronze wares; but in the Han, people brought daily necessities into their tombs.
The archaeologists say they now need more time to determine what type of egg they have found, and why the shell - a fragile and perishable material - has been so well-preserved for so long.
Since the excavation of the tomb is not yet complete, the egg has been left there.
Technicians have consolidated the soil around the precious artefact to protect it.
Covering about 40,000 square metres, the Huangjinwan ruins is the largest Han site that has been found in Chishui River basin.
The Han dynasty was regarded as the first unified and powerful empire in Chinese history.
It was established by Liu Bang, who became Emperor Gaozu, following four years of civil war started by peasant uprisings against the despotic Qin dynasty (221 - 207BC).
In terms of power and prestige, the Han Dynasty in the East rivalled its almost contemporary Roman Empire in the West.
It was considered a golden age in Chinese history especially in arts, politics and technology.