Shell Midden Stratum


     A 3-foot-thick clam shell midden was just beneath the spoil layer, and above a layer called the peat midden. People ate a lot of clams to form the shell layer! The top part was made of black clay and whole and crushed shell. It had a range of artifacts, with some dating from A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1400, during the Mississippi period. However, the dredge disturbed some of this upper area, so older and newer materials were mixed. Archaeologists found prehistoric pottery pieces as well as a large, fired musket ball. A hunter may have fired the musket ball sometime between about 1720 and 1860. It is the only artifact at the site from the time after Europeans arrived in Louisiana.


     The middle and lower parts of the stratum were not disturbed. Archaeologists found the remains of two fire pits that had pottery and charcoal in them. At the bottom of the layer, archaeologists found more pottery pieces, stone artifacts and bone tools. They also recovered many animal bones that show what meat people were eating. Fish bones were the most common, but they also found alligator bones, turtle bones, raccoon bones and waterfowl bones. The middle and lower parts of this stratum were from about 400 B.C., during the Early Woodland period.

(Top) A Rangia cuneata shell. The shell measures about 1 1/2 inches in length. Credit: R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates.


(Bottom) This image provides a detailed look at the densely packed Rangia cuneata shells in the shell midden stratum. Credit: LSU Museum of Natural Science.


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