2019 Beaches Conference Concurrent 1 Long Descriptions – Shell Middens and Midden Minders Panel

Shell Middens and Midden Minders Panel

This session provides an opportunity for individuals to learn about the Maine Midden Minders (MMM). MMM is supported by Maine Sea Grant and the UM Mitchell Center. It seeks to engage citizen-scientists from organizations, tribal communities, and individuals in monitoring eroding shell middens on Maine’s coast. This work is vitally important, as Maine’s numerous shell middens are disappearing in the face of climate change-related sea-level rise. Created by indigenous people prior to the arrival of Europeans, middens are composed of clam and oyster shells, artifacts, and animal, fish, and bird bones. Once described as “trash heaps”, archaeologists and scientists recognize middens as an archive of thousands of years of past lifeways and environmental coastal conditions. A few midden excavations take place each year, but focus on data recovery, not quantifying ongoing erosion. As a result, information about site destruction is largely limited to anecdotal evidence. This information is not adequate to inform cultural resources management decisions. The MMM is designed to use “low-tech”, but effective, tools to describe midden conditions, measure change, and document eroded material for a statewide database. The database will provide cultural resource managers with information to prioritize investigations and maximize the use of scarce funds. (This session accompanies the Shell Midden Field Trip.)

Abigail Lyon
Alice Kelley
Arthur Speiss
Chris Sockalexis
Joseph Kelley