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Pollen, phytoliths and diatoms in prehistoric coprolites from Kohika, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

by admin last modified 2008-03-25 01:57 PM

Horrocks M, Irwin GJ, McGlone MS, Nichol SL, Williams L. 2003. Journal of Archaeological Science 30, 13-20.


Microfossil (pollen, phytolith and diatom) analyses of 16 coprolites from a prehistoric settlement at Kohika, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, provide evidence for coprolite age, season of site occupation, prehistoric Maori diet and palaeoenvironmental conditions. Because human and dog diets may overlap considerably, the microfossil evidence does not indicate with certainty which of these two species deposited them. However, we argue that it was very probably dog. The microfossil evidence suggests that the coprolites are pre-European (pre-c. A.D. 1800) and post-large scale Polynesian deforestation (post-c. 700 yr B.P.), and that some were deposited in mid-summer. High values for puwha (Sonchus) type and raupo (Typha) pollen in some of the coprolites may provide direct evidence that these taxa were used as food by prehistoric Maori, as described later in ethnographic times.


Coprolites, pollen, phytoliths, diatoms, ethnobotany, New Zealand.

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