Middens are surprisingly fluid entities in occupied communities, as shown by ethnoarchaeological research in Dalupa, Kalinga Province, northern Luzon, the Philippines. This study combines ethnoarchaeological observations of midden formation and disturbance in Dalupa with data from soils and sediments in natural, habitation, and midden contexts, including elemental data for 80 samples collected using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy. Most surface samples from habitation areas cluster with midden samples, although samples from the lower parts of theses profiles resemble samples from natural contexts around Dalupa. One explanation is a changing spatial distribution of active middens due to changes in house placement and occupation in Dalupa's history. Some habitation areas that chemically resemble middens may once have held middens, as suggested by the periodic changes in midden location from the cleaning and management of extramural space. Surface scatters of human and animal refuse throughout the habitation area may also contribute to this pattern. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.