Along this side of the pueblo, people repeatedly dumped their trash, forming a midden. Refuse tells us much of what we know about past life. Each layer of food debris yields facts about diet, nutrition, and changing reliance on resources throughout the history of the village. Broken pottery and worn out tools reveal relative dates of occupation and technological changes through time.
When Wupatki was excavated, artifacts and food remains were collected and stored but not studied for years. Today, rather than excavating new material, we study old collections to learn how people altered or managed plant and animal populations to their advantage.
This midden has not been excavated. Walking off trail here, or through any midden, mixes the upper layer of trash with lower levels, destroying the context that is so important to understanding past lifeways.