An archaeologist from the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum has been examining the coprolites of the Fremont people who lived in the area between 400 to 1350 A.D. to determine what they ate and how it affected their health.
Because such matter is not easily preserved, human coprolites are particularly rare and, shy of stumbling upon Fremont latrines, elusive. In fact, the best examples of Fremont feces finds date back to the 1960s and 70s from which Riley did his research. These samples were dug up by archaeologists at three Fremont sites in Utah, including the Hogup Cave site along the Great Salt Lake.
By studying the eating habits of the Fremont Indians, Riley knows when they were heavier into hunting and gathering and when they were more likely chilling in their pithouses as farmers. He can also tell you when they were physically healthiest – think Mediterranean Diet – and when they were likely dipping into their corn-only food storage.
“Coprolites actually do give you direct evidence that people were not just gathering these plants and using them for baskets and tools, they were also eating them and combining them and so the idea of menus and meals is something you can get at through coprolites.”
Story: Sun Advocate | Photo: Sun Advocate