Sea Shells by the Sea Shore: microstratigraphic investigations of the Cabeço da Amoreira Mesolithic shell midden (Muge, Portugal)

Author(s): Vera Aldeias

Year: 2015


Cabeço da Amoreira is a long-known Mesolithic shell midden located in the shores of the Muge River in Portugal. Like in similar midden contexts, sedimentation is greatly influenced by anthropic inputs associated with an intensive exploitation of marine and estuarine resources. The abundance of shell-fish refuses favors an intricate and laterally variable stratigraphic succession of layers and lenses, which result in an extensive artificial mound. The complex stratigraphy of shell midden sites has been difficult to decipher and few studies have focused on the microstratigraphic record of midden formation. The present paper applies goarchaeological and soil micromorphology techniques to investigate aspects pertaining to site formation, and the nature of anthropogenic activities at Cabeço da Amoreira. Given the recurrent accumulation of similar type of components throughout the sequence (namely, shells, charcoals, bones and geogenic grains), we apply a microfacies analysis to distinguishing between primary activities (such as discrete shell tossing events, trampled surfaces and combustion features), versus secondary position of the assemblages in dumped or reworked deposits. The complex superposition of events seen at Cabeço da Amoreira underlines the role of micromorphology for the identification of behavioral signatures and its relevance in understanding the formation of large shell midden sites.

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Cite this Record

Sea Shells by the Sea Shore: microstratigraphic investigations of the Cabeço da Amoreira Mesolithic shell midden (Muge, Portugal). Vera Aldeias. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396269)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;