Prehistoric dung discovered in Wiltshire hints at the cooking skills of Stonehenge builders | UK News

Ancient dung found near Stonehenge suggests that its builders may have dined on half-cooked beef offal at lavish winter parties.

The strange find at Durrington Walls, just 2.8 kilometers from the ancient slabs in Wiltshire, dates back to 2,500 BC, when much of Stonehenge was built.

And a stool analysis was found to have found evidence of parasitic worm eggs.

According to a team of archaeologists, this suggests these inhabitants ate the internal organs of cattle and fed their dogs with leftovers.

The Cambridge University-led team investigated 19 ancient fecal fragments, or coprolites, found at the settlement and preserved for more than 4,500 years.

Five of the coprolites (26%) – one human and four dogs – contained eggs of parasitic worms.

The researchers say this is the earliest evidence of intestinal parasites in the UK, where a host species that produces feces has also been identified.

Lead author Dr Piers Mitchell, from Cambridge’s Department of Archeology, said: “This is the first time that intestinal parasites have been recovered from Neolithic times in England, and found them in the environment. of the Stonehenge really something.

“The type of parasite we found is consistent with previous evidence of winter cannibalism during the construction of Stonehenge.”

Raw or undercooked lungs

Four of the coprolites, including humans, contain capillary worm eggs.

While the parasite infects a wide variety of animals, in the rare event that a European species infects humans, the eggs will lodge in the liver and not appear in the feces.

Evidence of them in human feces suggests that the person has eaten raw or undercooked lungs or liver of an infected animal, leading to the parasite’s eggs going directly into the body, scientists say.

“Since capillariid worms can infect cattle and other ruminants, it appears that cows are the greatest source of parasite eggs,” explains Dr. Mitchell.

Previous analyzes of cow teeth from Durrington Walls show that some cattle were grazed nearly 100km from Devon or Wales to the site for a large-scale party.

Co-author Evilena Anastasiou, who assisted with the study while at Cambridge, said: “Finding eggs of capillariid worms in both humans and coprolite dogs suggests that humans have ingested the internal organs of infected animals. sick, and feed leftovers to those dogs.”

Parasite – that’s a thing

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from UCL’s Institute of Archeology, who excavated the Durrington Wall between 2005 and 2007, added: “This new evidence tells us something new about the people who came here. winter holidays during the construction of Stonehenge.

“Pork and beef are grilled or boiled in clay pots but it seems the offal is not always cooked that way.

“People don’t eat freshwater fish in Durrington Walls, so they must have picked up tapeworms at their home settlement.”

The findings were published in the journal Parasitology.

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