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Israel

Whiff Of History: Archeologists Discover Very Old Egg In Ancient Toilet

Whiff Of History: Archeologists Discover Very Old Egg In Ancient Toilet
Genevieve Mansfield

Archeologists digging near the central Israeli city of Yavne have uncovered the most delicate of artifacts in the remains of an ancient cesspool. Inside the 1,000-year-old cesspool, they were surprised to find an apparently intact hen's egg, dating all the way back to the Byzantine period, according to daily Haaretz.

Dr. Lee Perry Gal, a poultry expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority, explained how extraordinary it was to find the egg: "Eggshell fragments are known from earlier periods, for example in the City of David, Caesarea and Apollonia, but due to the fragility of the eggs, almost no whole hen eggs have been preserved. Even on a global level, this is an extremely rare find."

One of the archeologists excavating the site, Alla Nagorsky, credited the cesspool with the survival of the 1,000-year-old egg all these years, explaining that it was the soft human waste that preserved it. Yet after surviving for a millennium in a toilet, a small crack formed at the bottom of the egg as the scientists extracted it from the pit, as French monthly magazine GEO reports, preventing it from making it back to the lab fully intact. Only a portion of the yolk was salvageable, which scientists will use for future DNA analysis — but still leaving unanswered the eternal question: which came first, the chicken or the egg ... or that awful smell from the cesspool?

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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