Analysis of Prehistoric Coprolites from Utah (University of by Gary F. Fry

By Gary F. Fry

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Additional info for Analysis of Prehistoric Coprolites from Utah (University of Utah Anthropological Papers : No 97)

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They lived in temporary shelters or pit houses and built small storage granaries. Page 7 Methods and Procedures Specimen selection is the most arbitrary aspect of coprolite analysis because there are no known tests for absolute determination of feces origin. Only samples taken from mummified human remains or containing exclusively human parasites can be assigned certain human status. Classification of coprolites as being of human origin is made on the basis of form, color, and visible contents.

In an attempt to establish controls, tests were made to verify the assumption that immersing fluid turns dark brown or black only if the reconstituted specimen is of human origin. Samples were obtained from various animals at Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City. The samples were color recorded and placed in beakers, oven dried for four days at 50°C, and placed in sealed desiccator jars with anhydrous calcium sulphate (CaSO4) for an additional four days. After this desiccation process, the specimens were reconstituted with a solution of trisodium phosphate (Na3PO4), exactly duplicating the treatment of archeological specimens.

Previous Work Analysis of fecal matter has a long history in medicine (Cammidge 1914), zoology (Seton 1925), and archeology. F. Wood Jones (1910) conducted an early analysis of fecal material from Egyptian mummies. Young (1910) examined archeological coprolites from Salts Cave, Kentucky. Ruffer (1921) investigated Egyptian mummy feces. V. Jones (1936) analyzed coprolites from Newt Cash Hollow Shelter, Kentucky. Wakefield and Dellinger (1936) made an extensive early examination of coprolites from an Arkansas bluff shelter mummy.

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