Journal article

Field processing and transport costs in shellfish gathering along the Cape west coast

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Parkington J, Brand R, Niekerk T.

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2021

Journal: Quaternary International

Journal name: Quaternary International

Volume number: 0

Start page: 1

End page: 10

Total number of pages: 10

ISSN: 1040-6182



The discard of shells in visible heaps, shell middens in our terminology, need not reflect the consumption locations, but may rather be field processing sites prior to the transport of edible flesh elsewhere, likely inland. The comparison of shell midden locations, sizes and contents from a well-studied section of the Cape west coast of South Africa, against the framework of Metcalf and Barlow's (1992) model of the ‘optimal trade-off between field processing and transport’ leads us to suggest that through time different decisions were made by local shellfish gatherers. In particular, the millennium between 2000 and 3000 years ago stands out as one of deliberate and intense field processing, compared with earlier and later millennia.


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Last updated on 2021-11-02 at 21:52