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Shell Midden

shell-midden-pequot-museum-WEB Shell Midden Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Shell Midden as shown in life-sized diorama & a 16th-century village. Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Connecticut.


Ancient-Shell-Heap-Shinnecock-Hills-Golf-Club-The-Shinnecock-Indians-a-culture-history-vol-vi-Gaynell-Stone-1983 Shell Midden Jeremy Dennis On This Site

View of Sebonac swamp and Ancient Shell Heaps. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is in the background. (Neg no. 12539. Courtesy American Museum of Natural History. Photo: M. R. Harrington, M. I. Smith.) From Gaynell Stone, The Shinnecock Indians – A Culture History Vol VI 1983, pp. 284

Shell middens are cultural deposits that contain considerable quantities of shellfish refuse (hard and soft clams, oysters, and scallops, etc.) usually associated with stone and/or ceramic artifacts, animal bones and pit features.

The shell midden deposit has been of interest to archaeologists, formally, since 1849 when Worsaae convinced Steenstrup that the Danish sites were cultural refuse heaps  rather than natural shell beds (Bibby 1956: 118).

Though kitchen middens, shell heaps, mounds, sambaquis, and other named shell deposits have been recognized and excavated around the world ever since – and served as data for important theories – the specific behaviors and processes responsible for their formation and subsequent transformation remain poorly known. 1


Shinnecock-Hills-Golf-Club5I5A9939-300x200 Shell Midden Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club


In 1891, one hundred and fifty Shinnecock tribal members assisted in laying out the first 12 holes of what was to become the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.Willie Dunn, Scottish Professional and course developer said several years into development;

The place was dotted with Indian burial mounds and we left some of these intact as bunkers in front of the greens. We scraped out some of the mounds and made sand traps.
Material from the Sebonac and Woodland period villages were found in the area; including pottery and human remains that were sent to the American Museum of Natural History and Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation – now NMAI.




Duke-Site-II-300x144 Shell Midden Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Duke Site


The Duke site, named after Anthony Drexel Duke, is a site that was excavated by the New York State Archaeological Association, L.I. Chapter in 1974.  On this site, a shell midden was found, suggesting the presence of indigenous occupation in the area.Nearby is the well-document Ashawagh settlement site, located on the shore of Hand's Creek, west of Three Mile Harbor.




5I5A7096-Pano-300x132 Shell Midden Jeremy Dennis On This Site



Fort Pond in Montauk was once called Konkhunganik by the Montaukett Indians before and during the 1800s at its southern half and Quanuntowunk for its north shore.This site along the south eastern shore was occupied seasonally during the Late Woodland Period (1,200 - 350 years ago) as a recurring base camp for nomadic hunter-gatherers and their extended families.As early as 1661, the place name Konkhunganik was recorded from Montauketts during the creation of a land deed. The translation of Konkhunganik is currently unknown, but early 20th centruy anthropologist William Wallace Tooker believed the name translates to "at the boundary."




5I5A5905-300x126 Shell Midden Jeremy Dennis On This Site



Ashawagh is a pre-contact Montaukett settlement on the edge of Copeces, now Hand's Creek. Shell heaps in the area suggest intense wampum manufacturing. This place was particularly important for hunting, fishing, and camping.




  1. Lynn Cici, Shell Midden Deposits as Coastal Resources, World Archaeology Volume 16 No. 1, 1984 pp. 63


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