FAQ: What exactly is a hearth?

The generally circular "beds" or arrangements of cooking rocks that once formed the heating elements of individual earth ovens are known to archeologists as hearths. Hearths typically range in size from about two to six feet across and may be flat or basin-shaped in cross-section. Not all hearths resulted from earth oven cooking; some were probably never covered by earth and instead functioned as "griddles" and similar cooking arrangements. A hearth field is an area where many hearths occur. Typically, heath fields are the result of the repeated pattern of building individual cooking hearths in one area over many generations or even many centuries. Hearth fields sometimes extend over dozens or even hundreds of acres in favorable places.

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