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kitchen midden
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: midden; shell midden
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A mound or deposit that is formed from the accumulation of domestic refuse, including cooking and eating equipment, food, and garbage. Some of these mounds are of sea shells left by some food-gathering peoples. The term was first used in Danish to describe the middens of the Ertebolle culture and is also used as an adjective for the people who create middens. In Scandinavia, there are many mounds of shellfish debris.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: Any large refuse heap, mound, or concentration of cultural debris associated with human occupation. The term includes such materials as discarded artifacts (e.g. broken pots and tools), food remains, shells, bones, charcoal and ashes, - and may include the material in which the debris is encapsulated and modifications of this matrix. Midden debris usually contains decayed organic material, bonescrap, artifacts (broken and whole), and miscellaneous detritus. Middens are a valuable source of archaeological data. The long-term disposal of refuse can result in stratified deposits, which are useful for relative dating. Sometimes the midden is a dump or trash pile separate from the residential area, but more commonly among hunters and gatherers the houses are on top of the midden itself. Some of the largest shell middens were accumulated by shore-dwellers in Mesolithic Denmark.
pack-rat midden
CATEGORY: feature; artifact
DEFINITION: Any collection of artifacts or objects concealed at some point by a pack rat (also wood or trade rat) and remaining in an assemblage at that location. They are so-called because they collect various bits of material to deposit in their dens. They sometimes pick up shiny objects in camps and may at the same time leave something they were carrying, thus giving the impression that they are trading one item for the other.
shell midden
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: An archaeological deposit consisting of a refuse mound of discarded shells, offering evidence of early human use of certain mollusks. These often extensive heaps are the result of many years of exploitation of marine resources as a main or supplementary food source. Shell middens provide information on diet, harvesting techniques, subsistence economy, and seasonality.

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