The Northern Colorado Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society meets on the 2nd Weds of each month (unless otherwise noted). Programs are being scheduled for the summer. Board Meetings are the 2nd Weds of each month at 6pm (Before our program evening, unless otherwise noted).
Medical Center of the Rockies
2500 Rocky Mountain Avenue, Loveland, Colorado 80538 Big Thompson Room
All programs are free and open to the public.
Dr. Linda Scott Cummings & Barbara Klontz,
PaleoNutrition, Coprolites, Dental Calculus, and the Celtic Curse:
In the first study of coprolites and dental calculus from the same individuals, we examine and compare dietary reconstruction from these two proxies. A population of over 500 individuals from two Early and Late Christian cemeteries in Nubia provide a human osteological record against which to compare the dietary proxies. The skeletal remains yielded evidence of numerous anomalies including cribria orbitalia, suggesting the possibility of iron deficiency anemia, and spinal fusion typical of ankylosing spondilitis, which was rare.
Approximately 10% of the individual yielded coprolites, which were examined for pollen, phytoliths, macrofloral remains, and faunal bone. The resulting dietary record was compared across males and females and by age group for both components of the diet and dietary breadth. Diet included a grain (sorghum), multiple vegetables and fruits indicating agriculture , and meat (crocodile, pig, and fish). Dental calculus analysis for approximately 50% of these individuals provides a dietary proxy to compare with that of the coprolites. As expected, the dental calculus record is severely limited in breadth. Comparison of these records by individual highlight those differences.
Nutritional assessment of the diet included observations concerning iron, with emphasis on bio-availability. For instance, phytates, abundant in sorghum grains, inhibit iron absorption. HFE gene mutation sequesters iron in bodily tissues rather than eliminating it (hemachromatosis). Ancient DNA analysis that will include mapping the two alleles associated with this gene mutation is in progress. XRF analysis of dried human blood has detected elemental iron, suggesting this technique might provide preliminary data to assess relational iron loads in the tissues. First tier testing focuses on those skeletons and naturally mummified bodies from which coprolites were recovered. This analysis is ongoing and results will be reported.
In conclusion, this multi-disciplinary study compares human osteological results with dietary and nutritional studies that derive from coprolites and dental calculus. The dietary information is specific to individual, most of whom have been identified by age and sex. These agriculturalists enjoyed a complex diet that encompassed grain, vegetables, fruit, and meat, some of which was represented in the dental calculus.
This study forms part of the base of a larger investigation into the Celtic Curse (Hemachromatosis). Today, northern Europeans (and those of northern European descent) carry the majority of the genes for hemachromatosis. This, and other studies of similar nature, cross the boundaries of scientific study to link genetics, human osteology, diet, and nutrition. We used coprolite and dental calculus to identify and evaluate the diet of individuals buried in two Early and Late Christian cemeteries.
Will be in the Big Thompson Room
Program Date: March 8th
- Board Meeting
Come, join the fun, meet archaeology enthusiasts!
April: Dr. Christopher Johnston
May: Dr. Robert Brunswig
Special July: Richard Boston, Civil War Quilt
More to come like Dr. Holly Norton, Dr. Gerardo Gutiérrez