The ostrich formerly occupied the North and South of the Sahara in Africa. Ostrich eggs has been used by the native Khoisan for centuries, not only for food but also for jewellery. Kalahari Khoisan gather ostrich eggs from the nest, a risky exercise given the speed and temper of these big birds from Africa.
They empty the contents of the egg by making a small hole at the one end of the egg. This way they can still use the egg shell for water storage and transport of water. The ostrich egg shell is a brilliant water flask, not to large, average 1L, and strong and water stay cool. Clusters of whole ostrich eggshell flasks, with beeswax stoppers to prevent spillage, has been found stashed in arid landscapes in southwest Africa. Flasks were sometimes decorated with patterns or painted. In the Kalahari this typically shows ownership. Broken eggshells were made into beads for necklaces or bracelets and also beads were sown into clothing.
Ostrich eggshell beads appeared in the southern African archaeological records some 40, 000 years ago, but decorated eggshell fragments have an even older pedigree. At a site called Diepkloof, about 500 km south of Spitzkloof, archaeologists have uncovered 60, 000-year-old ostrich eggshells with clear engravings.