Monday, January 02, 2006

Shell midden

On New Year's Day, I made the embryo of a shell midden. I had bought oysters for my wife, but she didn't like them much, so I finished them off for lunch. Briny molluscous slither-downs. I much prefer moules marinière.

In the distant past, people would eat a lot of shellfish over long periods near good oyster banks, building small hills of shells; køkkenmøddinger in Danish, "kitchen middens". They're common around the world and often full of interesting stuff beside the shells: other kinds of refuse, hearths with datable charcoal, sacrificial deposits, even burials.

Two things may immediately be deduced from shell middens:

1. These places must have reeked to high heaven of rotten fish.

2. People must have boiled or baked the oysters before eating them, as it is almost impossible to open a live oyster with a flint blade.

And so, there is ample precedent for anyone who wishes to have their oysters cooked: hundreds of generations of prehistoric fishers can't be wrong.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

too funny!

The search for Amelia Earhart involved the investigation of a shell midden. Researchers think it might have been Earhart's detritus because the method used to try to open the shells was bashing them about, rather than heating them.

Amelia Earhart: the Material Evidence

02 January, 2006 23:59  

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