Copenhagen city square built on poop

CopenhagenBeing an archaeologist can be a tough job–hot weather, frustrating digs that don’t turn up any finds, dirty conditions. . .especially the dirty conditions.

A dig in the Danish capital Copenhagen has turned out to be dirtier than usual. Archaeologists excavating under Kultorvet Square have found two 18th century outhouses that are literally filled with historic faeces.

Kultorvet means “Coal Square” and was where people bought and sold coal. Now it’s a popular meeting place full of cafes and restaurants, as shown in this photo courtesy Leif Jørgensen. These historic toilets would have been used by coal vendors and buyers, mostly working class people. The privies seem to have been popular because both are heaped with the stinky stuff, and the local soil’s low oxygen levels have preserved it in a pristine state.

Wading through offal is good news for archaeologists. Old turds can tell a lot about the people who dropped them, like their diet and general health. One slow-witted Dane from days gone by even ate an apple core. It was found encased in his poop, having passed through his system whole after probably causing some indigestion.

A large subway expansion project has led to lots of archaeological finds in Copenhagen. If any more disgusting discoveries turn up, we’ll be sure to let you know.