Anthropologists and Conservationists

by Barbara Walvoord

Anthropologists call it a “midden”–a very old trash heap whose contents reveal what some ancient tribe ate, wore, played with, and used for tools.

For future anthropologists, we should have left alone the east campus midden in the trees just off the wide woods path– obviously the trash heap for the farm that used to occupy our land, before the days of regular trash pickup and regulations against dumping.  Judging by the height and breadth of the heap, the trash goes down for yards, perhaps holding objects used by early colonists, or, even deeper, by more ancient tribes.

But we’re conservationists, uneasy about the trash heap’s proximity to a vernal pool, its possible toxicity, and its visual intrusion into our quiet woodland walks.

So the Land Conservation Committee worked with Mike Strycharz to remove many, not all, of the largest, most obvious items lying on the surface of this deep, extensive midden. We also removed smaller trash heaps by the community garden and by Teaberry pond and the blue shed.

But if you want to play anthropologist, these photos show a few midden objects before they were removed. See how many you can identify.  Remember what we used to eat, wear, play with, and use for tools, how we got these objects, how we used them, and how we threw them away.



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