Engraved ostrich eggshell from the Middle Stone Age contexts of Goda Buticha, Ethiopia

Zelalem Assefa*, Asfawossen Asrat, Erella Hovers, Yin Lam, Osbjorn Pearson, David Pleurdeau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Excavations at the site of Goda Buticha, Ethiopia, have recovered a small sample of engraved ostrich eggshell (EOES) fragments. The earliest specimens date to ~ 34 ka and ~ 43 ka, thus representing the oldest known examples of EOES in eastern Africa, and occur in association with a Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithic assemblage. The occurrence of EOES at Goda Buticha persists into the Holocene, similar to certain MSA technological features. EOES provides an additional line of evidence through which to examine the variability in the MSA and the complex transition from the MSA to the Later Stone Age in eastern Africa.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)723-729
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritages (ARCCH) of Ethiopia for permission to excavate Goda Buticha and for providing access to the collection. The excavations at Goda Buticha were carried out with the support of grants from the National Geographic Society (# 8110-06 and # 8510-08 ) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation (# ICRG e 102 ). The French Center for Ethiopian Studies provided logistical support for the field project. The funding for the laboratory analysis of the ostrich eggshell and for some of the radiocarbon dating was provided by the Smithsonian's NMNH Small Grants program. We thank Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged and the California Academy of Sciences for additional support for laboratory research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Eastern Africa
  • Engraved ostrich eggshell (EOES)
  • Later Stone Age
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Symbolic behavior


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