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Archaeologists make smelly discovery in Odense

The barrels offer a unique insight into the dietary habits of people living hundreds of years ago


The dig, which is ongoing and one of the largest urban archaeological excavations in Danish history, uncovered a number of barrels containing human excrement (Photo: Facebook/infoboksen)

March 14, 2014
14:28

by Christian Wenande


Archaeologists made a stunning, if not stinky discovery during their excavations of I Vilhelm Werners square in Odense on Funen.

The digs revealed numerous latrine barrels dating back to the 1300s and still filled with their intended content, proving – among other things – that human excrement still has a putrid odour even if it is centuries old.

Many of the barrels, which were found during 2013, are in excellent condition and their contents can provide a unique insight into the dietary habits of people living some seven hundred years ago.

READ MORE: Danish research gives new details on Ice Age extinction

Huge urban dig
But what’s also interesting is that the barrels were usually used for something else before becoming latrines, and the markings on the barrels reveal who owned it and whether it was used for the transportation of goods or storage of fish.

The dig, which is ongoing and is one of the largest urban archaeological excavations in Danish history, also uncovered three barrels stacked on top of one another that turned out to be a well. The barrels were tied together and packed with clay, and at the bottom archaeologists found a system of pipes.

Visitors can enjoy a free tour of the excavation every Tuesday and Thursday at 13:00 and can visit the archaeologists’ workshop every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 15:00.



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