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Dating oyster shells

Shell middens are found throughout the world, on coastlines, near lagoons and tidewater flats, along major rivers, in small streams, wherever some variety of shellfish is found. Although shell middens also date from pretty much all of prehistory, many shell middens date to the Late Archaic or (in the old world) Late Mesolithic periods. Of course, as Johnny Hart once said, “the bravest man I ever saw was the first to devour an oyster, raw”.

Dating oyster shells

Dating oyster shells

Other kinds of sites, such as camp sites, villages, farmsteads, and rockshelters, have their attractions, but a shell midden was created by and large for one purpose: dinner. One often used way to diversify the diet was to depend on shellfish as a reasonably easy to obtain food source.

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  • A shell midden is a heap of clam, oyster, whelk, or mussel shells, obviously, but unlike other types of sites, it is the result of a clearly recognizable single-activity event.


    Dating oyster shells

    Dating oyster shells

    Dating oyster shells

    You can still find heaps of freshwater mussel shells with several holes punched out of them lying along the bger rivers of the American midwest. The oldest shell middens in the world are about 140,000 years old, from the Middle Stone Age of South Africa, at sites like Blombos Cave.

    Dating oyster shells

    People were still essentially hunter-gatherers, but by then were settling down, reducing their territories, focusing on a broader range of food and living resources. WANT TO HOOK UP WITH HIM AGAIN One type of site that some archaeologists love to investate is the shell midden or kitchen midden.


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