Ancient Feces Reveal Parasites Plagued 9,000-Year-Old City of Catalhoyuk

May 31, 2019 - General
The ancient city of Çatalhöyük

Garbage dumps are always exciting places for archaeologists. They often tell us the stories that are hidden or seen as unimportant to share with future generations, but these tales provide unparalleled information on what life was really like. Excavators sometimes find really exciting artifacts in ancient midden heaps – such as poop that was filled with parasitic worm eggs!

Research published today in the journal Antiquity reveals that human feces (coprolites) have been found in the 8,000-year-old garbage dump of the ancient city of Çatalhöyük, which overlooks the Konya Plain in what is now Turkey, and experts have found they contain the eggs of whipworm.

“It was really great to find that the parasite eggs had survived over 8,000 years, since so many other organisms in the soil can destroy them over time,” Cambridge researcher Dr. Piers Mitchell told Ancient Origins.

The parasite-ridden poop dates to the early days of Çatalhöyük  (7,100-6150 BC), suggesting that the transition from primarily hunting and gathering to farming likely brought differences not only in social interactions and diet, but also exposure to different diseases.

Skeleton 30928, a possible female, aged 35–50 years, dating from 6700–6500 BC. (Çatalhöyük Research Project) Microscopic egg of whipworm from Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Black scale bar represents 20 micrometres.

Source: origins

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