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CEDAR KEY: Shell Mound
Check out this 4,000 year old pile of shells left by native peoples. Page 5.
I imagine that four thousand years ago someone had themselves a nice dinner of clams and then decided to throw the shells over by that bush so they could lay down and relax in front of the fire. A tradition was established and maintained for over 4,000 years resulting in one heaping big pile of shells.
In fact, a sign on site states that this is the largest Indian shell mound on the central Gulf coast.
As remarkable as this pile of shells sounds, you might miss it if you're not paying attention. At least I almost did.
When I first heard of Shell Mound I pictured a flat area with a big pile of shells in the middle. You know, like a big truck load of shells dumped on the ground.
The thing I didn't take into account with my expectations is that this pile of shells has been here for 4,000 years. Nature has had the time to seamlessly integrate Shell Mound into the rest of the local ecology.
Mature vegetation covers the mound. Many generations of large oak trees have sunk their roots deep into the top of this hill and lived and died here.
If they didn't have a sign out front calling this site "Shell Mound" many people might walk up and down this 3 story high pile of shells without realizing the significance of the "ground" beneath their feet.
If you are the type who likes to pause to consider the significance of things, you might enjoy relaxing on a park bench at the top of the mound.
From this vantage point you can take in a sweeping vista of the area while reflecting upon the many people who lived out their lives here, over what must have seemed an endless series of generations.
Every shell on this mound was at one moment in time handled by somebody with a face, a name, and a personal story.
I find that the quiet solitude of this place sometimes allows me to turn down the volume of my own self-absorbed mind long enough to begin to hear some of these stories.
Before you know it, you're no longer alone on top of Shell Mound, but sharing it with countless others who've also appreciated this beautiful place.
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