Ross A.,University of Queensland |
Coghill S.,Quandamooka Land and Sea Country |
Coghill B.,Quandamooka Land and Sea Country
Quaternary International | Year: 2015
Middens are created from the discard of natural resources, collected by people for consumptive purposes: mainly subsistence, but also for artefact manufacture (e.g. stone, bone and shell artefacts); warmth and/or shelter (e.g. firewood [charcoal] and timber windbreaks); or for ceremony. Taphonomic processes act on the discarded cultural materials to modify the evidence originally deposited by the creators of the archaeological site as a result of consumptive behaviour.There is nothing particularly new or unusual in this description of the accumulation of midden material. Interpretations of midden deposits in the literature are based around the interaction between consumptive behaviour and taphonomy. However, all archaeological sites also reflect a process other than consumption and taphonomy: discard.In this paper, we argue that a focus on consumption and taphonomy that ignores discard activity may overlook an important aspect of site creation. Using the Peel Island Lazaret Midden as a case study, we demonstrate that an understanding of past discard patterns may generate new understandings of human behaviour as represented in midden deposits. In particular, we argue that the formation of the Peel Island Lazaret Midden is due as much to the creation and stewardship of oyster beds, and to the consequent cultural materials that did not find their way into the midden, as artificial to the collection of shellfish for food consumption. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.