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Marine mussels - wear is the evidence
Light, J. (2005). Marine mussels - wear is the evidence, in: Bar-Yosef Mayer, D.E. (Ed.) Archaeomalacology: Molluscs in former environments of human behaviour. Proceedings of the ... ICAZ Conference, : pp. 56-62
In: Bar-Yosef Mayer, D.E. (Ed.) (2005). Archaeomalacology: Molluscs in former environments of human behaviour. Proceedings of the ... ICAZ Conference. Oxbow Books: Oxford. ISBN 1-84217-120-8. vi, 184 pp., more
In: Dobney, K. et al. (Ed.) Proceedings of the ... ICAZ Conference. Oxbow Books: Oxford, more

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Keyword
    Marine

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  • Light, J.

Abstract
    Marine mussel shells (Mytilus spp.) are common components of shell assemblages from archaeological sites worldwide and this reflects, amongst other things, their palatability, their wide zone of intertidal distribution with the potential for exploitation during a major interval within the tidal cycle, and their global distribution. At a Romano-British site at Fistral Bay in North Cornwall large numbers of mussel shells were retrieved, from midden deposits, with limpets (Patella spp.) and smaller numbers of the dog whelk (Nucella lapillus). Whilst the limpet and dog whelk shells were in an excellent state of preservation, the mussels were flaky and fragmented, and many bore abraded and facetted surfaces around the umbones and on the convex shell exteriors. These wear patterns on the shells were initially interpreted as evidence that the shells had been employed for some utilitarian purpose; for example, for buffing or burnishing processes. Examination of the local mussel colonies in the modern-day environment has revealed the agent of abrasion to be in situ environmental processes. An understanding of the ecology, habitat and provenance of marine mollusc shells is necessary to distinguish between natural processes and the hand of humans when analysing modified shells from archaeological sites.

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