Shell Rings and Shell Middens

Shell rings and shell middens found along the SC coast were made by Native Americans 3000-4000 years ago. Several have been discovered in the East Cooper area. The rings, composed largely of shell, animal bone and pottery were sometimes used as habitation sites. Some middens contain post holes, structural remains and large pits used to steam shellfish. The purpose of the rings remains a mystery. They may have been the gradual accumulation of shell and refuse at the sites, perhaps built for ceremonial purposes or created as public monuments. The nature of the rings suggests that inhabitants successfully harvested natural resources which allowed nomadic bands eventually to settle at permanent locations.