Experimental replication shows knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work

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Highlights

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An ethnographic account states an Inuit man made a knife from his own frozen feces.

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We experimentally tested knives manufactured from frozen human feces.

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Knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work.

Abstract

The ethnographic account of an Inuit man manufacturing a knife from his own frozen feces to butcher and disarticulate a dog has permeated both the academic literature and popular culture. To evaluate the validity of this claim, we tested the basis of that account via experimental archaeology. Our experiments assessed the functionality of knives made from human feces in controlled conditions that provided optimal conditions for success. However, they were not functional. While much research has shown foragers to be technologically resourceful, innovative, and savvy, we suggest that this ethnographic account should no longer be used to support that narrative.