Does A “Mysterious” Ostrich Egg Prove the Pyramids are thousands of years older – NO.

Posted on September 25, 2022


You are likely here because you have seen some post on social media that goes something like this:

“Archaeologists guess the Pyramids of Giza to be about ~4,600 years old as Carbon-14 can’t be used to estimate their age. An ostrich egg found in a tomb near Aswan shows the 3 Pyramid structures side by side. Carbon dating show it is ~7,000 years old.”

Or maybe something like this…

“Historians estimate that the pyramids of Giza are roughly 5000 years old. This can’t be verified for certain because you can’t carbon date limestone. You can, however, carbon date an eggshell. This one, found in Aswan, is 7000 years old, and depicts the pyramids beside the Nile.”

Probably with this image – though cropping out the original authors copyright.

There is a cottage industry on social media of people taking other popular tweets/posts/videos/whatever, stealing the images (if they have them), and rewording them slightly so they can post them as their own for the likes/retweets/followers/whatever. A Google image search will bring you to the source of this story, a blog post from 2018, updated in 2019, –

This is out side more normal type of post but on Twitter I got caught up in debunking one of these… less than honest… persons tweets and now people point to my thread so I thought I would put something a bit better about the facts here for people to use.

Unfortunately, people who steal images and don’t source there work also do not fact check… I know, you’re shocked too. Almost all of the information in these posts are not true. The exact opposite is true, The Pyramids have been carbon dated and the egg has not. Though the egg is 7000ish years old, more on that in a minute.

A quick note – there are a lot of pyramids in the world, and in Egypt, but for the sake of brevity I am just going to refer to the pyramids at Giza as ‘The Pyramids‘ in this post.

The Pyramids at Giza are exactly as Old as we think they are

First, there are multiple lines of evidence for the age of The Pyramids i.e. built during the 4th Dynasty, roughly 2613 to 2494 BC. There are masons/work crew marks on the stones in hieroglyphs. Hieroglyphs were only invented at roughly 3000BC and were not standardized until the 3rd Dynasty, ergo The Pyramids can’t be older than the 3rd Dynasty. We have administrative records about the construction. There of course are historical records that back this up too, I won’t go into details, the Wikipedia Page is pretty good is you want more – and of course carbon dating. It is true that limestone and granite, what The Pyramids are made of, can’t be carbon dated but the mortar between the stones can be because they contain carbon. Ash was mixed into the mortar and it takes a lot of heat to breakdown limestone and gypsum for the mortar i.e. you have to put limestone in a fire and when your scrape out the quicklime, charcoal from the fire also gets mixed in during that process. There have been two big carbon dating projects in the 1980s and 1990s focused on The Pyramids, funded by wealthy donors looking to prove they were much older… that found they are exactly as old as we though they were (I am guessing the funders were not happy). Over 450 samples were taken between the two projects, the Great Pyramid at Giza had ~50 samples alone. They samples were tested at three different labs to ensure there were no errors – they all got the same results. You can read the paper where the full results were published here –

Contrary to what those tweets, blog posts, etc. say, The Pyramids have been carbon dated, a lot. I can’t tell you how much over kill it is to run 50 samples on a single building with only one phase of construction. It most cases, we only run a handful of dates in most archaeological excavations, if any.

The Egg was Not Dated

The original blogger that started this all actual states in the comments of her post that the source of the carbon dating of the egg was … not scientific and did not cite the source when someone asked for it.

“My info on carbon dating was not a scientific source, so I don’t think it would be helpful to you.”

We know the egg was not carbon dated because the egg was excavated in 1909-10, before carbon dating was invented in the late 1940s. You can read the excavation report here – There is even a photo of the grave it came from in this paper on Ostrich Eggs in Ancient Egypt- (really interesting stuff, I would recommend reading it). Furthermore, carbon dating is a destructive process. You have to destroy part of the egg to be able to date it and Ostrich Eggs are hard to date. So hard to date that it usually requires 5-10 grams of the egg to be destroyed to get a good carbon date. There is no large sample section taken out of the egg so we know it was not dated later, after carbon dating was invented.

However, the date is real, it is 7000ish years old. The date of the egg comes from the associated artifacts found in the grave. This is actually the most common method of dating in archaeology. If we know when one type of artifact was made, we can then date all the other artifacts found with it. The egg was found in a grave whose artifacts are about 7000 years old so we know it is that old.

However, if we are confident of the age of The Pyramids, really confident on this point (hundreds of carbon dates + ton of other evidence), and confident of the age of the egg, it means the image on the egg can’t be The Pyramids. Also, there are ten* pyramids at Giza, not three, so there is that really obvious reason why they can’t be the same too.

So What is the Image on the Egg?

We don’t know. The design style at that time was heavily geometric so it could just be a geometric design with no meaning. It could actually be pyramids – small p, as in something shaped like a pyramid, maybe a tents? mountains? hills? This is the fun part of archaeology, a bit of hypothesis about what it might be. We have eliminated it that it could represent the Pyramids at Giza but beyond that there is a whole range of possibilities so feel free to make your own guess.

*some are thought to be un-finished so not sure you count that as a full pyramid or not.

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