Yeah, that’s true! Human poop can map two millennia of history and climate change in a remote, according to a new study in Norway.
Robert D’Anjou, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts, said that human waste deposits can help researchers untangle the effects of natural and human-caused climate changes. In fact, these researchers can date the onset of human settlement in an area and look at agricultural practices and settlement histories alongside the changing environment.
For a long time, archaeologists used traces of human feces to rebuild the history of archaeological sites. However, no one was interested in using human feces to race human settlement in an area and climate changes.
The researchers did their study in Norway and drilled several sediment cores from the bottom of a lake. The first core captured about 7000 years of time in this region, whereas another core contained sediments from about 2,300 years to 200 years.
In their study, they looked for the levels of several chemical compounds that can be found in the human waste, alongside livestock waste. In addition, they checked for fingerprints of burning vegetation in order to link human population levels to climate changes.
The results showed that the levels of human and livestock waste increased around 2000 years ago, when people started settling in this area. In parallel, the burning vegetation fingerprints increased, indicating the burning of forests for farming and other uses.
The levels of all the indicators fluctuated at some points due either to people leaving this area during the plague time or the little ice age between 1500 and 1800.
The study underscores the importance of the tie between climate and agriculture. It provides a method to gather the pieces of the recent past. Some researchers look for certain compounds and that blocks their ability to scrutinize the recent past.
The answer was in human poop. Impressive. Right?!