The what, how and why of human coprolite analysis in archaeology

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Lisa-Marie Shillito, John C. Blong, Eleanor Green, Eline Van Asperen


Coprolites are a highly informative but still underutilized proxy for understanding past environments, palaeodiets, and ancient human health. Here we provide a critical review of the history and current state of research in human coprolite analysis encompassing, macroscopic, microscopic, and biomolecular approaches. We present new data from a number of key sites which demonstrates how new multiscalar, multiproxy approaches can provide unique insights. Coprolites should be routinely collected and examined during excavations and integrated with other archaeological and palaeoecological evidence. Future research needs to focus on better understanding of coprolite formation as well as pre and post depositional taphonomy, a goal which can be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration between geoarchaeology and organic geochemistry.



Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Life Sciences, Other Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences


coprolite, geoarchaeology, lipid biomarkers, multiproxy


Published: 2020-02-06 08:39

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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