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After drinking the last drops of wine from two gigantic barrels about 300 years ago, someone had the brilliant idea of repurposing the vats into something down to earth … or rather, in the earth: They stuck the empty barrels in the ground and turned them into toilets.
Archaeologists recently discovered the Renaissance-era latrines (and all of their poopy contents) in Copenhagen during an excavation ahead of a repaving construction project. The makeshift bathrooms, which had been placed in the backyard of a city house, dated to the late 1680s, the archaeologists found.
People - Latrines - Bread - Meat - Variety
"The people whose latrines we have investigated were well-fed on bread, fish and meat, alongside a variety of fruit, herbs and spices," said lead study researcher Mette Marie Hald, a senior researcher of environmental archaeology at The National Museum of Denmark.
"Most of the food items were locally grown," she added, "but some of the food plants were exotics, showing us that it was possible to buy, for instance, cloves, which would have come all the way from Indonesia."
Sample - Plant - Latrines
A sieved sample of plant remains from the latrines.
The mere presence of these cloves indicates that Copenhageners had access to goods from long-distance trade, probably through the Dutch trading companies, as Indonesia was a Dutch colony at the time, Hald said.
Traders - Copenhagen - Fun - Fact - Years
"We know that Dutch traders lived in Copenhagen in the 1680s," she noted. "It's fun to think of the fact that 300 years ago, we were already part of a global trading network."
After digging through the samples, the scientists used microscopes, and, if the objects were big enough, their bare eyes to label what had passed through the...
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