Minding Maine’s Middens

By definition, a midden is a “refuse heap,” but in the case of a new Mitchell Center project, the heap is cultural gold and a window into Earth’s past.

Titled “Creating a Maine Midden Minder Network and Database,” the project is being led by Alice Kelley, UMaine geoarchaeologist in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences (SECS) and associate research professor at the Climate Change Institute (CCI).

The project is focused on developing a protocol for use by volunteer citizen scientists in conservation organizations to monitor the erosion of Maine shell middens—human-created accumulations of mollusk shells, fish, mammal, and bird skeletons and artifacts such as bone and stone tools—that archive 4,000-plus years of cultural and environmental data.

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