Midden A


     The 1940/1941 project created a 5-foot grid across Midden A, and then the crew dug 632 squares of that grid. This let archaeologists know where every artifact came from. Using the grid, they could examine patterns in the distribution of artifacts. Groups of artifacts showed the activity areas at the site.


     Midden A extended for at least 270 feet along the bayou bank and up to 100 feet inland. Most of the midden was dark soil, but clam shells were concentrated on the edge of the bayou. Why would people discard shells only along the bayou rather than across the entire area? This pattern suggests that people used most of the midden for activities other than processing clams. Perhaps people did not want to walk on shells all the time or have them around their living areas.



Midden A. Credit: LSU Museum of Natural Science.

     The WPA crew excavated Midden A in 6-inch levels, and recorded the level where each artifact was found. Like at most sites, the oldest level was at the bottom, and the most recent one was at the top. Therefore, archaeologists could look at changes over time. For example, at the bottom of the site, in the oldest levels,  smoking pipes were rare. In the later levels, they were more common.


     Archaeologists also could see trends in the styles of pottery at the site. Incised designs were more frequent in the earlier levels than in the later ones. Stamped decorations increased in popularity through time. The types of pottery found at the bottom of Midden A show that the first people at the site lived at Midden A. Later, people lived at both Midden A and Midden B. These trends remind archaeologists that the traditions and styles were changing during the 400 years people lived at the site.

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