At 507 years old, Ming the Clam was thought to be the oldest animal in the world when it died in 2006—reportedly at the hands of researchers who were trying to determine the Icelandic clam’s age. But the afterlives of Ming and its fellow mollusks as common building materials has a vastly longer, albeit not very well known, history.
From ancient marine sediment compacted and pressurized over the ages to form limestone, to oyster middens—heaps of discarded shells—used to create a paste for mortar, to the stone ground to make cement-board siding, mollusks are on the menu in many of our buildings. On the next episode of Dwell’s RM-3 podcast (Raw Materials 3 Ways), host Dan Maginn takes a deep dive into the role of shellfish in our shelters.
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