Tag Archives: Shell middens

I am one of the few animals in the room

Directed study
Adrian Fenech
Blog post 3

So far I have sampled the midden materials from the top three layers of Mick Morrison’s excavation of the midden SM:88. Unfortunately, I have not located many faunal remains, or more than a couple of otoliths. It is possible that more faunal materials are present in the lower excavation layers. This is because the shell midden I am working on had its material very loosely packed, which Morrison (2010: 146) argued allowed fine sediments to move downwards. Given that most of the faunal material I have sorted so far is highly fragmented, it may have been able to move downwards as well. As I get further along in the sorting I should be able to determine whether this has occurred.


Another possibility is the chemical and physical processes that could have affected the faunal materials while inside the shell midden. An example is a test performed by Solomon and David (1990: 240),  who found that if dingoes eat kangaroo remains, very few kangaroo bones survive the process. The likelihood of a similar situation in this project will be determined when I am able to put the faunal material under a microscope. This should allow me to identify any tooth marks or acid etching, the latter being the result of bones being digested.

Reference list
Morrison, M. 2010, The shell mounds of Albatross Bay: an archaeological investigation of late Holocene production strategies near Weipa, north eastern Australia. Adelaide: Flinders University.
Solomon, S. and B. David 1990 Middle range theory and actualistic studies: bones and dingoes in Australian archaeology. In S. Solomon, I. Davidson and D. Watson (eds), Tempus. St Lucia: University of Queensland, pp. 235-256.