Thursday, February 2, 2012
Modern Shell Middens
Much we know of coastal Indian tribes (The Calusa and others) comes from examining their shell middens. They lived from the sea most of the year bringing home shellfish and disposing of their shells nearby. Eventually they build temples and additional living space on the high ground thus created.
Modern man sometimes follows the practice, bringing home a washtub of oysters and adding the shells to the vegetation around the campsite.
More poignant are the little middens left by departing campers. Check any abandoned site and you will find a small cache of carefully collected shells and half shells abandoned near a tree or left atop a picnic table. We will never know the age of the collector, though we may guess. Nor can we measure the anguish or hear the protestations or know what really good shells are now transported to inland destinations. We can only read the clues and speculate…