Time and Tempo in Shell Midden Archaeology

Author(s): Victor Thompson

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "From Middens to Museums: Papers in Honor of Julie K. Stein" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

From her dissertation work in the Green River region of western Kentucky to her work along the coast of Washington, Julie K. Stein has engaged with core research problems related to the study of archaeological shell midden sites. One of the key issues that she has addressed is connected to how quickly and in what way do these sites form. Here, I draw inspiration from Stein’s work and examine three case studies from the American Southeast. In this work, I address some of the larger theoretical issues and debates linked to the timing and tempo of shell midden and mound formation. One of the core reasons for these debates is that many stems simply from the macroscopic studies of profiles, which in the absence of other data sets (e.g., micro-artifacts, microstratigraphy, zooarchaeological analysis, etc.), provides only gross estimates of time. Thus, different researchers use the same dataset to argue competing interpretations — thus leading to a problem of equifinality. In this paper, I use these case studies to illustrate a variety of methods that can be used to bring resolution to some of these core debates in shell midden archaeology.

Cite this Record

Time and Tempo in Shell Midden Archaeology. Victor Thompson. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451419)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.735; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -73.389; max lat: 39.572 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23086