5,000-year-old poo discovered near Stonehenge

5,000-year-old poo discovered near Stonehenge
Traffic backlogged around Stonehenge as thousands rush to get away for Easter ...

A 5,000-year-old poo has just been discovered near Stonehenge - why didn't it get scooped up?

The poo, found at Durrington Walls, 2.8km from the ancient stones in Wiltshire, dates from 2,500 BC, and shows what people ate during that time, including parasitic worm eggs...

Yes, having found these in the poo, archaeologists at the University of Cambridge suggested people ate the internal organs of cattle and fed leftovers to their dogs.

Lead author Dr Piers Mitchell, from Cambridge's Department of Archaeology, said: "This is the first time intestinal parasites have been recovered from Neolithic Britain, and to find them in the environment of Stonehenge is really something.

"The type of parasites we find are compatible with previous evidence for winter feasting on animals during the building of Stonehenge."

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The scientists, writing in the journal Parasitology, say evidence of them in human faeces indicates the person had eaten the raw or undercooked lungs or liver from an already infected animal, resulting in the parasite's eggs passing straight through the body.

"As capillariid worms can infect cattle and other ruminants, it seems that cows may have been the most likely source of the parasite eggs," Dr Mitchell explained.

Co-author Evilena Anastasiou, who assisted with the research while at Cambridge, said: "Finding the eggs of capillariid worms in both human and dog coprolites indicates that the people had been eating the internal organs of infected animals, and also fed the leftovers to their dogs."

Prof Mike Parker Pearson, from UCL's Institute of Archaeology, who excavated Durrington Walls between 2005 and 2007, added: "This new evidence tells us something new about the people who came here for winter feasts during the construction of Stonehenge.

"Pork and beef were spit-roasted or boiled in clay pots but it looks as if the offal wasn't always so well cooked.

"The population weren't eating freshwater fish at Durrington Walls, so they must have picked up the tapeworms at their home settlements."


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