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in anthropology, prehistoric refuse heap, or mound, consisting chiefly of the shells of edible mollusks intermingled with evidence of human occupancy. Midden living, found throughout the world, first developed after the retreat of the glaciers and the disappearance of large Pleistocene animals hunted by prehistoric humans. Primitive peoples who adopted these hunting-collecting economies became more established; thus, the oldest pottery of northern Europe, eastern North America, and Central America occurs in shell mounds.