Construction workers preparing sites across Copenhagen for the new Metro line are making some extraordinary discoveries, the latest being a pair of latrines last used around 300 years ago.
The find beneath Kultorvet Square is providing experts with a chance to study in detail how Copenhagen residents went about their business three centuries ago.
Excavation expert and archaeologist Hoda El-Sharnouby, speaking to Politiken, said the soil’s low oxygen content meant that the remains were very well preserved. “It smells like rotten eggs,” she said. She explained that the smell was extremely encouraging because it means that bacteria had not yet eaten up all the contents of the two outhouses.
Talking about the deposits in the ancient loos, Mette Marie Hald, an archaebotonist examining the plant, said, “There is an insane quantity – it’s going to take me months to look through it all and analyse all the contents thoroughly. But I can already see that they ate seasonal things, raspberries or blackberries and apples. Somebody ate an apple core and it came right out the other end. They ate cherries, figs and flax seeds. I have also found seeds from weeds that grow in rye fields, so they were definitely eating rye bread or rye porridge.”
Hald also said she had discovered evidence of mites and intestinal worms. It is thought that the toilets were used by the public which means that they should provide a better understanding of the lifestyle of the lower social classes in the 18th Century.