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19 March 2005
Bronze Age droppings reveal health of ancients

Archaeologists  have found rare 3000-year-old human fossilised droppings revealing the healthy diet of Scotland's ancient inhabitants.
Work on a Bronze Age farmhouse in Catpund, Shetland, has unearthed the coprolites, which give clues on the population, health and wealth distribution of the former islanders. The research has provided data on prehistoric diseases and may shed more light on the environments and evolution of plants and animals.
     Beverley Ballin Smith, archaeological project manager at Glasgow University, said: "The inhabitants appeared to be cultivating a little enclosure around the house with grain. This was probably part of their diet alongside meat and fish. They would have had mainly sheep but it's possible they had cows or goats. They would have had the best diet possible in that type of environment, with plenty of roughage and fibre." She added: "It is very rare to find coprolites on archaeological sites, but in the northern isles of Scotland there can be excellent preservation."

Source: The Scottish Herald (17 March 2005)

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