The Dung File consists of a list of references dealing with pollen, parasites, and plant remains in coprolites and latrine fills from archaeological and palaeoenvironmental sites. The focus is on studies in North America, although the list also includes studies from many other areas. About 48% of the citations are from areas other than North America. The list includes mostly publications in the English language.

The Dung File is subdivided into eleven sections. Four depend on the origin of the deposits being investigated (Part 1: Mostly Human, Part 2: Mainly Mammal, Part 3: Animal Middens, Part 4: Other Critters). There are two broader categories, Part 5: General and Review Articles, Part 6: Field and Laboratory Methods, one focussed on theses, Part 7: Theses, and two focussed on modern comparative studies, Part 8: Comparative Studies - Human and Part 9: Comparative Studies - Mammal. Finally, there are a number of articles from news magazines and the popular press (Part 10: Popular Press and Commentary) and some less readily available items listed in Part 11: Conference Abstracts and Grey Literature.

Part 1: Mostly Human consists of references dealing primarily with human faecal material in archaeological context. These are mostly site-focussed studies. This also includes the examination of midden deposits and latrine fills. The focus of many of these studies is the elucidation of the diet and health of past human populations, and the examination of food consumption patterns and site use.

Part 2: Mainly Mammal consists of references dealing with mammal coprolites, including those of extinct fauna, such as mammoths, and domestic animals. Again, these are mainly site-focussed studies. The focus in these studies is often environmental reconstruction.

Part 3: Animal Middens: Packrat, Woodrat, Stick-nest rat, and Hyrax consists of references dealing with the pollen and plant remains accumulated as nesting or food sources by these animals. Midden areas are also often used as latrines by these animals and usually contain dung.

Part 4: Other Critters consists of a variety of other case studies focussed on other life forms, including reptiles, birds, and insects. This section also contains studies not directly related to dung, including some discussion of owl and other raptor pellets.

Part 5: General and Review Articles includes some review papers, multi-site syntheses, and publications that do not fit the other categories. It also includes papers in which the origin of dung is not clear or where the dung is from several sources.

Part 6: Field and Laboratory Methods lists publications focussed on field methods of sampling and collection and laboratory methods for processing coprolites or feature fills.

Part 7: Theses lists Masters and PhD theses that focus on coprolite studies. These are listed separately because they are difficult to obtain and read. Most of the publications in the previous sections I have read.

Part 8: Comparative Studies - Human comprises work on modern human faecal samples. The focus in these studies is often to decide what elements of the diet would be found in coprolites, so as to be able to make more reliable inferences about food sources in the past or, in the archaeological context, site formation processes.

Part 9: Comparative Studies - Mammal comprises work on modern dung samples, including those from stables and domestic animals, as well as studies from wildlife biology. The focus in these studies is often to decide what elements of the diet are found in dung, so as to infer feeding strategies or, in the archaeological context, site formation processes. This section also includes studies on the use of dung for fuel.

Part 10: Popular Press and Commentary consists of some articles from news magazines and the popular press. These articles are usually written in non-technical language and they may often contain fine photographic illustrations. In addition, this section contains commentary and descriptive summaries of longer articles that appear in the News sections of science magazines. The section also includes some profiles of researchers who deal with archaeological dung material.

Part 11: Conference Abstracts and Grey Literature lists some items that are difficult to obtain or are of only limited availability. Site reports, which are often single copies held by regulatory agencies and do not circulate, may also be listed here.

You may also view a list of taxa mentioned in the citations and annotations and a complete list of all citations with no annotations.

The call numbers in the list are for the library system at the University of Alberta. When available, the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) has also been included. The remarks in black are my synopses and comments. Latest changes/additions to the list: February 2 2013. Number of citations: 540

Through the years since it went on-line in July 1999, The Dung File has garnered considerable media attention. It seems that off-beat topics pique the public's interest!

Dung File Introduction


This presentation has been compiled and is © 1998-2013 by
Alwynne B. Beaudoin (
Last updated February 10, 2013
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