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LeBrok
14-12-12, 00:14
Location: Arctic Norway
Fragment:

When these plots were all put next to one another, along with temperature data from tree rings, D'Anjou saw a story emerge. For the first 4,000 or so years of the record, human fecal sterol levels were nearly zero, and the levels of the hydrocarbons were low too. The plant waxes suggest that the land was forested. Then, about 2,250 years ago, the sterol and hydrocarbon levels spike dramatically, and a greater proportion of the land was cleared. The levels of fecal sterols remain elevated for hundreds of years, often falling after a sudden temperature drop, which might have made agriculture untenable in the already-chilly Arctic. Sterol levels rise again when the temperature warms, but a significant dip occurs around 550 AD, continuing gradually downward, in tandem with records of migrations in Scandinavia, mostly for political and socioeconomic reasons. Levels later recover, but another dip occurs around the time of the Black Plague in the 14th century, when historical records show that more than 80% of the area's farms were abandoned.

Whole article:
http://discovermagazine.com/2012/dec/0-ancient-human-poop-tells-historical-tales#.UL95x2fDDd5

Taranis
14-12-12, 11:38
I knew before that you could draw a lot of informations from fossilized poop (including dinosaur poop!), but this is new. A great find, LeBrok!

LeBrok
14-12-12, 21:00
When I started reading it, I thought it is about diet of ancient people. It turned to be a completely new method It will be an awesome supplementary tool. Once you find a settlement around a lake, by getting one core from the lake, you have whole history of population growths and declines around the lake, plus what animals they had. Heck, you can get one core and determine if there was a settlement at all, and if it is worth looking for it, before you spend money on a dig. With few cores you can figure out what side of the lake the village was.

hope
25-01-13, 02:51
How far back in time do you think they could reasonably test LeBrok ? Would certain past climate conditions limit the readings?
Also I imagine they could use this regarding animal presence perhaps ?

LeBrok
25-01-13, 18:45
How far back in time do you think they could reasonably test LeBrok ? Would certain past climate conditions limit the readings?
Good questions hope. I think it was easier for them to check sterol levels in Northern Europe lakes, than it would be in Italy for example. Northern lakes are colder, sterol as organic compound will survive longer for sure. Though I have no idea how long its life is. I'm surprised it lasted that long, on time scale comparable to bones, but not flesh.
Northern lakes contain less life, so the bottom is undisturbed by plants and animals, and layers of accumulation of sterol can tell a story better. In most of cases deeper lakes can work better for same reason, the bottom is less disturbed, they are colder, and they lack oxygen deep down there making things survive better (as we know oxygen is highly reactive, makes organics rot and fall apart.)




Also I imagine they could use this regarding animal presence perhaps ? I believe they can recognize animal sterols.