PaleoNutrition, Coprolites, and Hemachromatisis: What is the Connection?

Author(s): Barbara Klontz; Linda Scott Cummings

Year: 2015


Evidence of cribra orbitalia in the physical anthropology record has long been interpreted to represent in adequate sources of iron in the diet. Pairing coprolites with naturally mummified bodies from Nubia allowed examination of the diet and correlation with physical evidence retained by the bones at both the population and individual levels. Although the diet included foods sufficiently rich in iron that iron deficiency anemia should not have been a problem, it also contained foods heavy in phytates, which block the absorption of iron. In this population iron deficiency anemia was more likely related to eating foods rich in phytates than to not having access to sufficient iron in the diet. Hemachromatosis, commonly referred to as iron overload, is genetically controlled. To many it is the opposite of iron deficiency anemia. How does nutritional analysis of coprolite evidence of diet contribute to a better understanding of health? How might examination of prehistoric diet shed light on the origins of hemachromatosis? Hemachromatosis is more common in people of northern European origin than in people and then from other areas of the world. Can a correlation be shown through time between dietary adaptation and genetic mutation?

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PaleoNutrition, Coprolites, and Hemachromatisis: What is the Connection?. Barbara Klontz, Linda Scott Cummings. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394858)