For those of you who have been wondering, e’se’get is a Mi’kmaw word meaning “to dig for clams” (learn how to pronounce it). We are digging in a very large shell midden – an ancient heap of clam shells, soil, artifacts, and animal bones left by prehistoric Mi’kmaq between 1500 and 1000 years ago. Most of the shells are from the soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria) and in parts of the midden they are so abundant that there is very little soil.
Today was our fourth day at the main site (AlDf-24), and nitap e’se’get (my friends are digging clams) sums up the day very nicely. Almost everyone has excavated down to the main shell bearing portion of the midden, and the finds have been excellent.
Shell middens are wonderful deposits to excavate because the calcium carbonate in the shells leaches into the surrounding soils and neutralizes the normally acidic earth found in Nova Scotia’s forested areas. As a result, shell middens tend to preserve abundant amounts of bone – something that rarely preserves in non-shell midden sites.
It has been almost unbearably hot and humid where we are digging, but the archaeology has been so great that we remain in high spirits. Below, I’ll post a few pictures of some of the bone (and other objects) we’ve found over the past week that keep us motivated through the heat wave.