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Study of faeces reveals the gut environment of ancient Japan

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Archaeologists have conducted a metagenomic analyses of coprolites excavated at the Torihama shell-mound site in Fukui Prefecture, Japan.

Excavations recovered over 400 individual coprolites, in which a sampling of 10 examples have dated the site to the Early Jōmon period. At the time, the Japanese archipelago was inhabited by the Jōmon culture, a hunter-gatherer population which reached a considerable degree of sedentism and cultural complexity.

The results of the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE by researchers from the National Institute of Genetics, the University of Tokyo, and the Wakasa History Museum, has revealed new insights into the lives and health of the Jōmon people living in Japan 7,000 to 5,500-years-ago.

Coprolites have the ability to preserve various genetic materials from the digestive tracts of ancient populations, including DNA from microbes and viruses. A metagenomic analysis of the sampled coprolites showed homology with known gut microbe, viruses, and food genomes typically found in the faeces of modern humans.

According to the study authors: “We detected reads derived from several types of phages and their host bacteria simultaneously, suggesting the coexistence of viruses and their hosts.”

Despite the age-related degradation of DNA in the coprolites, the researchers successfully identified genetic fragments of viruses, specifically homologous to human betaherpesvirus 5 and human adenovirus F.

“The study enables scientists to explore the co-evolution of bacteria and the viruses that infect them throughout history. This research enhances our understanding of the microbial and viral composition within the digestive systems of people from ancient times,” said the study authors.

Furthermore, the team discovered the reads of possible foods through genomic information, providing biological evidence for the dietary characteristics of the Jomon people.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Rare copper dagger found in Polish forest

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A rare copper dagger from over 4,000-years-ago has been discovered in the forests near Korzenica, southeastern Poland.

Piotr Gorlach from the Historical and Exploration Association Grupa Jarosław made the discovery during a metal detector survey in Jarosław Forest.

Upon realising the significance of the find, Mr Gorlach contacted the Podkarpacie conservator of monuments in Przemyśl and the Orsetti House Museum.

The dagger dates from over 4,000 years ago, a period in which objects made from copper were extremely rare in the Central European Plain.

A preliminary study indicates that the dagger may originate from the Carpathian Basin or Ukrainian steppe, and predates the development of bronze metallurgy for the region.

This transition is traditionally known as the Copper Age and marked a gradual incorporation of copper while stone remained the primary resource utilised.

Dr. Elżbieta Sieradzka-Burghardt from the museum in Jarosław, said: “This is a period of enormous change in the main raw materials for the production of tools. Instead of flint tools commonly used in the Stone Age, more and more metal products appear heralding the transition to the next period – the Bronze Age.”

Daggers during this era were a universal attribute of warriors, however, being made from copper suggests that the owner held a high social status. This is further supported by its size measuring 10.5 cm in length, which for this period is actually very large when compared to other metal objects from the same era.

The dagger has already been added to the collection of the Orsetti House Museum in Jarosław.

Header Image Credit : Łukasz Śliwiński

Sources : PAP – A dagger from over 4,000 years ago found in the forest.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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