Coastal middens

The museum has been documenting a number of coastal midden sites over the past decade. These mounds of shell fish remains left many hundreds and thousands of years ago by the Khoisan people of southern Africa present as layered collections of brown mussel, patella and cockles to name a few.

Last week a large midden was investigated across the Kei River mouth.

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Coastal middens are a pre-historical record of coastal foraging, species eaten and can also be an indicator of the abundance of a particular shell fish utilised. They are normally located close to a source of fresh water.

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Middens are being eroded out at a rapid rate due to an increased incidence of storm surges along the east coast of South Africa. A lot of valuable archeological information is lost when the middens ‘deflate’ due to the action of wind, water and the indiscriminate removal of material by members of the public. Middens are protected by law.

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About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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