Archaeodiscovery met up with biomolecular archaeologist and coprolite expert Dr Elenor Green:

What do you like about your work?

I love the variety in my work. Some days I am working in the lab, sometimes at my computer and some days I am taking careful pictures of Viking poo! Archaeologists are always very interesting people to make friends with because they always have lots of good stories! 


Extracting DNA from coprolites in my lab.

What is your favourite story about coprolites?

The most famous coprolite in this country is a particularly large coprolite that was found in York. This poo was dug out of very wet and peaty soils where it had become hard and had been preserved for 1,000 years! When it was found the archaeologists found evidence of parasite eggs suggesting that the pooper was infected with worms - ask your grandparents if any children in their class at school had worms, it used to be quite common! You can go and visit this famous coprolite at the Jorvik Viking Centre where it is displayed in pride of place. 

Here are some dog coprolites from the Viking-age

Why do you find poo so interesting?

Your poo says so much about you - there is a certain world leader who even takes their own personal portaloo with them wherever they travel so that no one can examine their poo! By going into the lab and examining the traces that survive within preserved poo, I can find out whether the coprolite originally came from a person or another animal, what they were eating and how healthy they were. 

Here’s me in the ancient DNA lab, I have to work whilst wearing these suits to stop my DNA from getting on the coprolites I am studying.

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