Humans ate pork and beef – along with their organs, such as liver – in 2500 BC near Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. This was discovered thanks to the analysis of parasites in her feces.
New analysis of ancient feces found at a prehistoric village site Near Stonehenge, UKEvidence has been revealed Parasitic worm eggs.
This indicates that Residents ate on the internal organs of livestock and fed leftovers to their dogsas published in the journal Parasitology.
Durrington Walls was a Neolithic settlement located only 2.8 km from Stonehengedating back to circa 2500 BC, when many famous stone monuments were built. The site is believed to have housed the people who built Stonehenge.
A team of archaeologists, led by the University of Cambridge, have investigated 19 pieces of ancient faeces, or coprolites, found in Durrington Walls and preserved for more than 4,500 years. Five of the coprolites (26%) – a human and four dogs – contained parasitic worm eggs.
The researchers say this is the first evidence of intestinal parasites in the UK where the host species that produced faeces have also been identified.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Pierce Mitchell of the Department of Archeology at Cambridge-. The type of parasites we found is consistent with previous evidence that animals forage in winter during the construction of Stonehenge.”
Parasites reveal that humans ate livestock organs
Four of the coprolites, including human, contained hairworm eggs, identified in part by their lemon shape.
Although the many capillary species found in the world infect a wide variety of animals, on the rare occasions that a European species infects humans, the eggs are laid in the liver and do not appear in the faeces.
Evidence of capillary eggs in human feces suggests that the person ate raw or undercooked lung or liver of an already infected animal, causing the parasite eggs to pass directly through the body.
During excavations at the main quay at Durrington Walls, archaeologists discovered pottery and stone tools with more than 38,000 animal bones. About 90% of the bones were from pigs and less than 10% from cows. The partially metallic stool used in the study was also found here.
“Because hairworms can infect cattle and other ruminants, it appears that cows may have been the most likely source of the parasite eggs,” says Mitchell.
Previous isotopic analyzes of cow teeth from Durrington Walls indicate that some cattle were grazed approximately 100 kilometers from Devon or Wales to the site for a large-scale feast.
Slaughter patterns previously identified on cattle bones from the site indicate that beef was primarily minced for cooking, with bone marrow removed.
The report states that “the discovery of hairworm eggs in humans and dogs indicates that people ate the internal organs of infected animals and also fed leftovers to their dogs.” Co-author Evilena Anastasiouwho collaborated on the research while in Cambridge.
To determine whether the coprolites extracted from the landfill came from human or animal faeces, they were analyzed for sterols and bile acids at the University of Bristol’s National Environmental Isotope Facility.
One coprolite, which belonged to a dog, contained eggs of a fish tapeworm, indicating that it had previously eaten raw freshwater fish to become infected. However, no further evidence of fish consumption, such as bones, was found at the site.
The Durrington Walls have been occupied largely seasonally, particularly in the winter periods. It’s possible the dog has already arrived infected with the parasite, Pierce Mitchell says. Isotopic studies of cow bones at the site indicate that they came from areas across southern Britain, and this may also have been the case with people who lived and worked there.”
The dates of the Durrington Walls match those of the second phase of Stonehenge construction, when the world-famous “trilithons” – two giant standing stones supporting a third horizontal stone – were erected, most likely by the seasonal inhabitants of this neighboring settlement.
While Durrington Walls was a place of banquets and dwellings, as evidenced by the pottery and large numbers of animal bones, Stonehenge was not, as little evidence has been found that people lived or ate there en masse.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of the UCL Institute of Archeology, who excavated the Durrington Walls between 2005 and 2007 adds: “This new evidence tells us something new about the people who came here to celebrate the winter holidays while Stonehenge was being built.”
“Pork and beef were roasted or boiled in clay pots, but their offal did not always seem to be cooked well,” he adds. The inhabitants did not eat the freshwater fish of the Durrington Walls, so they must have contracted tapeworms in their original settlements.”
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