On loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1987.
Ostrich eggs are known from Egyptian and Mesopotamian tombs from the 3rd millennium B.C., and from Mycenaean tombs of the 2nd millennium B.C. They are particularly common at Phoenician and Punic sites from the 7th to the 2nd century B.C.
According to Moscati (p. 456, "Ostrich Eggs" in The Phoenicians) "the fragility of the eggshells made them luxury goods meeting the demand of an elite market, which became smaller and more refined the farther away it was from the source" in Africa. Phoenician painted ostrich eggs have been found in Etruria, but there is also a rare group, like the present example, that are engraved by Etruscan artists. Six similar eggs were found in the Polledrara necropolis of Vulci, and another was sold at Christie's, Tokyo, 16-17 February 1980, lot 675.