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Durrington Walls was a large Neolithic settlement in Britain dating around 2500 BCE, located very close to Stonehenge and likely to be the campsite where its builders lived during its main stage of construction. Nineteen coprolites recovered from a midden and associated pits at Durrington Walls were analysed for intestinal parasite eggs using digital light microscopy. Five (26%) contained helminth eggs, 1 with those of fish tapeworm (likely Dibothriocephalus dendriticus) and 4 with those of capillariid nematodes. Analyses of bile acid and sterol from these 5 coprolites show 1 to be of likely human origin and the other 4 to likely derive from dogs. The presence of fish tapeworm reveals that the Neolithic people who gathered to feast at Durrington Walls were at risk of infection from eating raw or undercooked freshwater fish. When the eggs of capillariids are found in the feces of humans or dogs it normally indicates that the internal organs (liver, lung or intestines) of animals with capillariasis have been eaten, and eggs passed through the gut without causing disease. Their presence in multiple coprolites provides new evidence that internal organs of animals were consumed. These novel findings improve our understanding of both parasitic infection and dietary habits associated with this key Neolithic ceremonial site.
The early village at Çatalhöyük (7100–6150 BC) provides important evidence for the Neolithic and Chalcolithic people of central Anatolia. This article reports on the use of lipid biomarker analysis to identify human coprolites from midden deposits, and microscopy to analyse these coprolites and soil samples from human burials. Whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) eggs are identified in two coprolites, but the pelvic soil samples are negative for parasites. Çatalhöyük is one of the earliest Eurasian sites to undergo palaeoparasitological analysis to date. The results inform how intestinal parasitic infection changed as humans modified their subsistence strategies from hunting and gathering to settled farming.
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