Open main menu

Mussel Point

Mussel Point also known as Mike Taylor's Midden (MTM) is possibly the largest of 13 megamiddens found along the South African West Coast. MTM is the only open site with remains from the early pottery period (3000 and 2000 years before present) in the Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay areas at 32°18′S 18°19′E / 32.300°S 18.317°E / -32.300; 18.317.

Mussel Point
Mike Taylor's Midden
Mussel Point (Mike Taylor's Midden), Elands Bay, South Africa.jpg
General view of Mussel Point Provincial Heritage Site
Map showing the location of Mussel Point
Map showing the location of Mussel Point
LocationElands Bay, Western Cape
Coordinates32°20′12″S 18°18′59″E / 32.33667°S 18.31639°E / -32.33667; 18.31639Coordinates: 32°20′12″S 18°18′59″E / 32.33667°S 18.31639°E / -32.33667; 18.31639

There are only a handful of shell middens along the West Coast of South Africa that are as large and deep as Mussel Point. These very large sites, named "megamiddens", are the expression of unique social and economic (subsistence) solutions to environmental and demographic challenges that precolonial San hunter-gatherers faced between 3000 and 2000 years before present (BP). MTM is at least 350m long and 200m wide and has a depth that varies between 1.0 and 1.5m. It dates to between 980 and 2800 BP, however, much of this occupational sequence dates to between 2100 and 2500 BP. For this reason, MTM is singular among megamiddens in that it offers the best chronological resolution (greatest volume for shortest time) for the later part of this unique period of the precolonial history of South Africa.[1]


Megamiddens are large shell middens that are found along the shoreline of the West Coast and consist of large mounds of shells (mostly from mussels, along with barnacles, whelks, limpets, those of tortoises, and fish and bird bones). The megamiddens were created over a 1,200-year period, between 3,000 and 1,800 years ago. The middens have been studied extensively since the 1970s, particularly by archaeologists.

A significant debate has developed among scholars about the purpose of the middens and the history of the people who lived on the South African West Coast during the Later Stone Age.[2][3]

Provincial Heritage SiteEdit

In April 2009, the provincial heritage resources authority Heritage Western Cape declared Mussel Point a provincial heritage site in the terms of Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act.[4] This gives the site Grade II status and provides the site with protection under South African heritage law.


  1. ^ Mussel Point Midden. SHARA.
  2. ^ Parkington J. 2006. Shorelines, Strandlopers and Shell Middens. Krakadouw Trust: Capetown.
  3. ^ Jerardino A, and Yates R. 1997. Excavations at Mike Taylor's Midden: A Summary Report and Implications for a Re-Characterisation of Megamiddens. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 52(165):43-51.
  4. ^ Provincial Notice 4618, Province of the Western Cape Provincial Gazette, No. 6621, Cape Town: 9 April 2009, p.548