kitchen midden

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kitchen midden,

refuse heap left by a prehistoric settlement; more specifically, a deposit consisting primarily of discarded shell and related cultural material in coastal environments. First studied (1848) in Denmark, middens are an important source of ecological and cultural information. Kitchen middens, generally known as shell mounds in the Americas, usually date from the late Mesolithic periodMesolithic period
or Middle Stone Age,
period in human development between the end of the Paleolithic period and the beginning of the Neolithic period. It began with the end of the last glacial period over 10,000 years ago and evolved into the Neolithic period; this
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. Their contents include artifacts that can be dated, suggesting the mode of life and technology of ancient peoples. Analysis of animal remains can indicate the climate, season, length of occupation, hunting patterns, and the possible presence of domestication. Such middens generally represent only one component of a complex foraging strategy of migratory hunter-gatherers.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kitchen Midden


(also shell mound, shell heap), an accumulation of shells of edible mollusks and other food remains at certain habitation sites of the Neolithic period (about the fifth to third millennia B.C.). They are generally found on seacoasts and riverbanks. The best studied are those in Denmark, where they measure as much as 100 to 300 m long and 1 to 3 m high. Small kitchen middens have been found in the USSR in the vicinity of the Dnieper River.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.