Make and excavate archaeological poo!
For most people, the idea of finding old human poo is disgusting. And the idea of dissecting it and looking at it carefully through a microscope is even worse! But this is exactly what some archaeologists do. Poos are called ‘coprolites’ by archaeologists. Coprolites can include loads of evidence to help us understand what people ate in the past, and how they prepared their food.
Try our activity to make your own Aztec poos – and challenge your friends to excavate them!
Adult supervision is not required for this activity.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 30 minutes to make the poo; 20 minutes to excavate the poo
Mix together the flour, salt and oil in a big bowl
Add warm water to the stock cubes to make a thick gloopy dark brown paste
Add the gloopy paste into the floury mixture. You’ll need to get your hands in and squish it together! If the mixture is too dry, you can add more water or you may wish to add some brown ready-mixed paint to make the mixture browner and stickier!
Mix, squish and knead until you have a solid brown lump
Roll out sausage shapes for your poos!
It’s time to add the dietary evidence to your poo. For an Aztec poo, add popping corn or maize, pumpkin seeds, and the skin and seeds from plants like tomatoes, chillies and peppers – these are parts of the foods that Aztec people ate, which might not have been fully digested. Make sure you roll your poo to hide the evidence inside it!
Put a little bit of oil on your hands and rub this onto your finished poos. This will make them look really realistic and a bit yuck!
Congratulations! You’ve now made your fake coprolites. Get your brothers, sisters, friends or parents to excavate them and collect the dietary evidence. Use lolly sticks or cocktail sticks to make sure you don’t miss anything – some of the evidence is really small.
Download a poo excavation sheet, which will help you to record the evidence that you find. Use the evidence to work out who ‘did the poo’!
Aztec diets included pumpkins, tomatoes, maize, corn and peppers.
Your next challenge – if you haven’t had too much poo – is to make poos from different periods of history. Use our Poos from the past information sheet to find out what evidence might have been found in poos from Egyptian, Roman, Viking and Tudor times.
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 cup of salt
- Tablespoon of vegetable oil (plus a bit extra for oiling the finished poos!)
- Beef stock cubes
- Warm water
- Brown paint (optional)
- Popping corn
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chilli flakes
- Tomato and peppers seeds and skin
- Large mixing bowl
- Wooden lolly sticks or cocktail sticks
- Paper plates
- Poo excavation sheet (see downloads below)
- Poos from the past information sheet (see downloads below)