Bethell, P. H., Goad, L., Evershed, R. P. and Ottaway, J. (1994). The study of molecular markers of human activity: the use of coprostanol in the soil as an indicator of human faecal material. J Archaeol Sci 21 (5). Vol 21(5), pp. 619-632.

Title
Title
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Title:
The study of molecular markers of human activity: the use of coprostanol in the soil as an indicator of human faecal material
Issue
Issue
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Issue:
J Archaeol Sci 21 (5)
Series
Series
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Series:
Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume
Volume
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Volume:
21 (5)
Page Start/End
Page Start/End
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Page Start/End:
619 - 632
Biblio Note
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Biblio Note
Please note that this is a bibliographic record only, as originally entered into the BIAB database. The ADS have no files for download, and unfortunately cannot advise further on where to access hard copy or digital versions.
Publication Type
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Publication Type:
Journal
Abstract
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Abstract:
Coprostanol is a metabolic product of cholesterol, the major sterol in human faeces and as such routinely used as a marker for modern sewage pollution in marine/lacustrine sediments. Here, it is applied to archaeological soils/sediments to detect faecal material. Solvent extraction of the soil total lipids was followed by fractionation using thin layer chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), using selected ion monitoring (SIM) to detect and quantify specific compounds. Samples from a range of sources were analysed, including modern latrine deposits, a seventeenth-century garderobe, a medieval garderobe and two suspected Roman cess-pits. Coprostanol and its homologues were detected not only in the modern and aged cess samples, but also in the control samples, suggesting its ubiquitous occurrence in the environment, albeit at low concentration. However, by measuring the relative abundances and ratios of the stanols, a chemical signature distinctive of faecal material could be established, independent of the simple occurrence of coprostanol in the soil. It was shown that coprostanol, and its homologues produced by the same microbial mechanism in the gut, were reliable markers of the presence of faeces in soils when found in the appropriate relative abundances. A method of analysing very small quantities of specific molecular marker compounds preserved in soils has thus been applied to archaeological materials, enabling a particular organic residue to be identified where conventional physical methods of analyses might not be successful.
Author
Author
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Author:
P H Bethell
L J Goad
Richard P Evershed
J Ottaway
Year of Publication
Year of Publication
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Year of Publication:
1994
Locations
Locations
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Subjects / Periods:
Garderobe (Auto Detected Subject))
Medieval (MIDAS)
Cesspits Coprostanol (Auto Detected Subject))
Roman (MIDAS)
Source
Source
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Source:
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BIAB (The British Archaeological Bibliography (BAB))
Created Date
Created Date
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Created Date:
20 Jan 2002