Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Canada’s Ancient Clam Gardens

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

(Marlith)RUSSELL ISLAND, CANADA—Two 1,000-year-old clam gardens have been found along the beach on Russell Island in the Canadian Arctic. Clam gardens are areas where clams grow naturally, but are protected from predators with rock walls that also keep out seaweed. People who tended clam beds would have tilled the sand to provide the clams with more oxygen. “From some groups of elders we’ve talked to, they say these clam gardens basically acted as food banks. If they couldn’t get enough food to get through the winter, they could come here and grab shellfish,” said Nathan Cardinal of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve.