Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Anyway, as I drove I remembered that the best rock pile hunting strategy in the snow is drive-by spotting, so I went slowly looking for things in the woods. Finally I got to the conservation land entrance I was aiming for on Smith Rd, went a few yards beyond it, and saw a rock pile in the woods. This was exactly where I planned to walk, so I went back, parked and started exploring. There were a few piles along the verge of the southwestern slopes of the hill, which is more or less what I expected. It is not a big site although some of it may have been under the snow.
So here is the first pile I spotted from the car:
When I got to it, I saw another pile beyond and started getting hepped up.
Unfortunately when I got to this pile, it turned out to be next to a trail (there were tracks in the snow) and clearly this had been tossed together by more recent passersby. However, I could tell from the lichen on the lower rocks that this was probably an original pile subsequently messed up by hikers. Here is another view, back towards the road and towards the first rock pile:
There were a few other very minor rock piles visible nearby, so this one larger pile represents only limited damage to a real rock pile site:So I continued in deeper (east) following the edge of the hill and the wetland. It was absolutely spectacular weather - still, slightly above freezing, all blue sky with no clouds. Walking mostly on the crust, occasionally ka-thunking through a few inches, it was like walking on cotton. And as I see more occasional rock piles...
...I am thinking "this is as good as it gets".
However, the site never developed into a place with huge monster piles and, with the snow at least, there were only a few more things visible on the gullies and ridges as I proceeded.
Here was one final rock pile, perhaps the most interesting of the lot:
Perched carefully, as it is, at the edge of one of the little ridges, it seems intended to be visible. But I have no sense of any connection between this pile and the others. Something is going on along here but, actually, piles in such locations are not that common and, when I see them, they suggest trail markers but, of course, that is probably wrong. Maybe without snow some other clues would be visible.
In any case, it was a beautiful day out and it is nice to find a bit of a rock pile site, even in the snow. Next weekend if the the snow hasn't melted, I'll plan on driving rather than walking.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
In fact this large boulder is propped up on a broken piece of rock.
According to geologists, these large propped erratics were left here by the retreating glacier. It would be interesting to hear what scenario they would concoct to explain how a broken - sharp edged rock (obviously untouched by the glacier) got under there.Aside from that, common sense suggests that it would not be too hard to lever this thing around a bit.
I guess I should also point out that this large boulder is not so obviously a glacial erratic.
Monday, February 26, 2007
I believe this pile is clearly ceremonial. It is made carefully from rocks 10-12'' across, shaped as an elongated mound, and juxtaposed with another smaller rock pile. Located near the height of land, it is possible this pile is visible from a distance.
I photo'd this on Saturday before I went out exploring. I figured since I would probably not find anything, at least I could take a picture of this old favorite. You have quite a hard time seeing it from Rt 2 and it requires practice. Don't expect to see it the first time you pass.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
"Lake Wazeecha" - I am not sure where this is - perhaps the Great Lakes Region.
Lincoln National Forest [Click here]
Can't tell much about these [Click here] not even if they are in the USA.
This is interesting: "Part of this is superstition for those who believe it and most of it is about respect. Many see it as a cool activity to come along and build up rocks and call it a god or offering. To an old time native, it is disrespectful to mock the culture and gods in this way. It is also rediculous that anyone pile up rocks and call it an icon... So if you've done it, you've only accomplished making a fool out of yourself to the locals and disrespected the spirits that roam. Please don't be an ignoramous" [Click here] This is about Hawaii.
In the land of Ishi (northern CA?) [Click here]
All walking west to east across the Bering Land Bridge: There has never been much evidence that anybody crossed the Bering Land Bridge; in either direction. To paraphrase Dennis Stafford of the Smithsonian, "the amount of Clovis material found at the western end of the Bering Land Bridge would not fill a shoe box". So what this suggests, if anything, is that the direction of travel was EAST-to-WEST. Did anyone consider the hypothesis that northern Siberia was populated from the Americas?
And what is your problem with the idea of using boats? Boats took the first Australians to Australia at least 60K years ago. Depending on who you want to believe, Homo Erectus may have been present on the Island of Flores- in which case Homo Erectus used boats. Of course by now Dennis Stafford has come out proposing early Europeans came to America by boats (why not the other direction?). Many people have a hard time understanding that the edge of the ice is a very rich ecosystem, easy to live on. Instead of travelling along the edge of the ice, people probably were just living there - and camping occasionally to the left or to the right. On the topic of boats, the PBS show quoted someone as saying there is "no evidence of deep sea fishing". Well that is not right, the "Red Paint" people deep sea fished (for swordfish) about 8K years ago - and it is not hard to push that back a few K years into the Clovis period. [But let's not get confused with a second group of people and a different style of spearpoint.] By the way, Ted Timreck says he was the person who called Dennis Stafford's attention to the similarity of Clovis and Solutrean stone working techniques and the possibility of travelling in boats. Of course NEARA people have been talking about boats for two generations.
Killer hunters, quickly de-populating the Americas of all big game, in a "few hundred years": The facts are that (1) the large "mega fauna" animals disappeared gradually over the last 30K years of the ice age. Saber tooth tigers vanished something like 16K years ago. (2) Many non-game species dis-appeared over the same period: types of owls, types of mice, you name it. Again, the warming trend and melting of glacial snow did accelerate towards the ends of the ice age, with lots of complex causes, possibly including human, and with that kind of major environmental stresses and cataclysms (like glacially trapped water suddenly breaking the ice jam and flooding off down the Mississipi valley - killing millions of animals and leaving mountains of festering meat out in the sun) it is to be expected that there would be stresses to the food chain, disease, you name it.
Genetic and Linguistic evidence has a funny way of changing so as to always agree with what the archeologists are claiming at the time [not so for geology or mammalian biology- - scientists from those fields have been critical of the "Clovis First" doctrine for a long time]. Both 'sciences' rely on similar attempts to create family trees along with estimates for duration between branching events. To their detriment these sciences also rely on automatic software tools for generating the family tree structures which they analyze. I do not know enough abut how they calibrate the duration between branching events; but I do know a lot about the software tools for generating trees and I can tell you someting the users of this software do not know (and it is probably a well kept secret). Namely that with a small sample of evidence to build a tree, a single change in information can dramatically change the structure of the tree - those "trees" are badly sensitive to initial conditions. Here is a rule of thumb - you need about 10 samples per branch event - to have a robust tree. So they need samples of thousands of different Native American populations to justfy their trees. And how many sample did they use? Ten or twenty! To exaggerate for empahis: if you sample ten individuals and conclude that there were three languages families, then you are naive. The worst example of this that I saw was an author called Cavallo Sforzi ("The Human Diaspora"). I have to say that I wish they would do the job right - try sampling ALL known Native American Indian groups. Oh and, bye the way, stop connecting two points on the globe, through some genetic or linguistic similarity of the people at these two points - and trying to draw conclusions about which direction the "migration" occurred in. Genetic/Linguistic similarity does not imply a direction of travel. Get over it, and realize that the evidence supports claiming American Indians migrated to Europe just as well as it supports motion in the other direction.
All stone tools are spearpoints: actually most of those are probably knives and a simple glance under the scanning electron microscope would settle the question. What is the "use wear" evidence on many Clovis points? Were they part of a thrown projectile, a stabbing weapong, or a cutting tool? I wonder why this is not common knowledge? Could it be that the information does not fit the simple picture? I do not trust the experts.
So why would "experts" believe such nonsense? Why do they routinely and systematically (a) over-simplify; (b) deny early dates in favor or more recent ones for the peopling of the Americas; (c) invariably assume the contact came from Asia (and only rarely and recently from Europe); (d) that Native Americans are one single group of people?
I think the answers is somewhat sad and certainly angering: it is Euro-centrism and a deep-seated and basically negative assumptions (i.e. prejudice) about American Indians.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Another like it, from yet another place in Acton.
How about this masterpiece?
It is pretty obvious that these piles are deliberately representational. This one is from Carlisle, on the Acton border.
I call these "effigy piles" because they have visual symmetries and seem to be representational. My impression is that the Acton/Carlisle area has a number of sites with effigy piles. But I almost never see them ouside of the towns that surround Acton. Sometimes you have to clean off the pile a bit before you can see its design and, near home as Acton is, I tend to take longer looking at the piles there. By contrast, when I am "out West" in the wilds of Leominster and Stirling, I rarely settle down, clean off piles, and look at them carefully. So maybe my impressions are based on incomplete observation. Nonetheless, the region centered around Acton, has more effigies than any other region I have visited.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
In retrospect, some of this is probably nonsense. The spring Littleton, the "Oggam" in Acton. But there are some other interesting little tidbit in here, so it is worth it.
Walk eastward up a few of these gullies and you will soon come across beautifully constructed stone embrasures, made from the local schist bedrock which splits in flat plates. We met a woman earlier who, as a long time explorer of the woods around Great Brook Farm, had researched these and other structures in the libraries of Carlisle and Concord. It was she that directed me to the location of the embrasures, saying that the only reference she and her husband could find was to Bronson Alcott's "Farm in Lowell" which was part of the "Underground Railway". This part of Carlisle was part of Lowell at the time. She described underground chambers that I did not find, and the embrasures I did find would mostly be appropriate for a person seated but not prone. So I question that this explains these stone embrasures.
More recently I asked a ranger at the park what was known about these embrasures, and was told that they were only eight years old and had been "built by a stone mason teaching an apprentice how to work with stone...the park didn't know about it until after". I am diappointed that these are not older, but given how the structures are blended naturally with their surrounding and in many cases are not examples of any practical stone masonry, it is hard to believe this story at face value. What is taught by balancing a cairn as in the following picture? It turns out that these embrasures are on or near the same ridge that the park acknowledges is part of a Native American summer solstice sunset ceremony. Independently of their origin, these structures are a unique location in the park.
From the top of one ridge down into a gully there is a sequence of embrasures. Some overlook the gully at the top, some seem to define "stations" between the top and the bottom. Note the little cairn of rocks against the skyline in the first.
Notice how the second picture shows an un-enclosed space defined by three propped-up plates of rock, seats perhaps.In the third picture, notice how the stonework blends so naturally in with the bedrock ridge.
One embrasure,shown here from the exit, from the middle and from the entrance, seems entirely defined by a large shaped rock at its center. One notices the entrance and that, walking into it, one is led around the central rock. I imagine making an offering on the way past.
If you find this embrasure, notice the strategic placement of small bits of quartz or light feldspar, shining against the gray schist background. One light fragment locates the entrance (in the foreground of the third picture), one is at the center stone built into the embrasure. Another is a feldspar cobble lying loose in the dead leaves (lower left of the next picture). Take time to look at the shape of the central rock.
I have never found, but have been told about many other features at Great Brook Farm which suggest the sacred. Aside from the stone turtle, Great Brook Farm also has stone seats, indian corn grinding bowls and perhaps underground chambers. You might discover these yourself. Walk here, or in almost any woodland in New England, and with a little sensitivity and curiosity you will find locations that suggest a sacred use of the landscape in the past, and sometimes also in the present.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Hampton Union -- Thursday, September 10, 1959"..We have the idea that Mr. Leavitt believed the Indian settlement of Winnacunnet was located north of High Street. A friend of ours has recently discovered a few mounds and several unusual piles of stones in that general locality which perhaps will bear out this theory. The stone piles may have been Indian peace monuments."
- [Click here for the original]
Carin of Power This spell is ideal for outdoor rituals. Perform it prior to any other stone rituals. For additional power during spells, select 10 or 20 small, round stones of approximately the same size. On the ground near where you will perform your magic, place the first stone. Say something like "a stone of power". Repeat this with the rest of your stones, gradually forming a triangular shaped pile of stones. You are fashioning a carin. As you place the last stone on top of the pile, say words such as " a carin of power" Now perform any magic. Such carins or stone piles seem to be collectors and reservoirs of power, and can help your magic. They can also be permanently placed inside your home or, with larger carins, outside on your property for protection.
"...Disputes over the impending random destruction of the stone piles slowed development of the subdivision for almost a year. In October 2004, the PZC halted work on the subdivision until this archaeological survey, mapping of the cairns and expert evaluation could be done."
[Click here for the entire article in the Clinton Recorder]
"I'm from Auburn Alabama & I recently ran across a book published to chronicle historic sites of interest in the East-central parts of the state. In this book I ran across an entry that read: Circular stone structure about 2-3 feet in height. The structure has two entrances, one on the east & one on the west. Stone piles run from the structure in the directions of northeast & southwest. 100 yards apart. I have not been to this site. But I would like to hear from anyone with any information concerning megalithic structures or stone circles in Alabama."
Climbing over the walls and structures is going to knock down the rocks and cause irreversible damage.Respect to this sacred place is needed in a big way. To the property owners I hope that you have an understanding of what this place is and needs to maintain its present condition. I hope that they think of the people who built it and not of themselves for the benefit of the Dollar they should make from the bulldozers.Picture Stonehedge in England, vision it being bulldozed to the ground piled up and the stone being salvage for a Great wall in the Queens Castle. Thats about the same scale here. Rip apart an island that was forested and teaming with wildlife,for the sake of someones vision as being their Castle. I hope we can change our visions and see the Land for its beauty and the way Mother Nature intended it to be. [http://greatmuin-rockpiles.blogspot.com/]
Photo-1 .Possible prayer location, on Rock Wall. Photo-2 .Serpentine rock wall enclosure.
Here is a rock-on-rock adjacent to the larger pile shown above.
This small "site" sits at a place on the hill where you can look down a gully towards a wetland, across the road, to the southwest.
I was pretty pleased with myself for finding a rock pile. Sometimes I imagine hunting and bringing home food for the family. This rock pile is what I call a "the family will not go hungry tonight" sort of find.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
OK, well here is one: Ironbridge Archeology [Click here] - Runs towards pictures of girls and of trucks but at least there is one photo of a dig. Also check out their links to Bermuda Archeology Blog (also runs to pictures of girls digging and palm trees). Oh and also check out Coalbrookdale - some more pictures of digs, some pottery fragments, and girls in halter tops!
Great, here is one: Ohio Archeology Blog [Click here] I see ancient bones (not human), I see a dig, I see some material worth reading about Sacred Objects. I see old guys with magnifying glasses - finally this is almost what I was hoping to see. Articles like this "Interpretations of Several Low Mounds within Seip Earthworks, Ross County, Ohio".
Here is one with pictures from museums....we'll skip that.
Michigan archeology blog [Click here]
University of UTAH Archeology blog - Girls digging! [Link not provided].
I think we are seeing a pattern here and I am getting distracted from the original theme of this post. Apparently the border between archeology an photo-blogging exists but it is also near the boundary of porn. That's another story.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
She brought me over to the northwest corner of the conservation land and showed me the biggest rock pile ever. This is about 50 feet from left to right, made completely out of broken bedrock:
I think this is larger than the pile at Whipple Hill in Lexington. This pile sits in a hollow in the hill that looks for the world like a sand and gravel quarry. But the material of this pile is the same pink quartzite which, I think, is bedrock, not glacial till and so, not the material extracted from a sand and gravel quarry. Of course I cannot be sure what is what but certainly this is an interesting rock pile. Here is a view down the face of the pile, followed by a picture of the retaining wall at the far end: Here are some other views from that direction (to the left in the first picture):
The upper surface was pretty level but looks a little tilted in these pictures [The picture of Sarah Fuhro is from on top of the pile] . The retaining wall on the front part looked to have been caved in a bit:But there was some effort expended there.
As I said, the pile seems to site in a hollow of a sand pit. All around are little mounds and, what I interpreted as bullldozer piles. One auxilliary mound had a pile on it:
I should have payed more attention to these mounds. Sarah Fuhro thought they were moundbuilder-like. Perhaps she is right. The pile is facing southeast over a water source.
This pile leaves me with a number of questions.
- How did the pile get to be the shape it is now?
- What might have been its original shape?
- Is the broken ledge-rock something that could be quarried at a sand and gravel pit?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This one was published on p.282 of Manitou, where it is called the "Northern Chamber at Oak Hill". Here are some interior shots:(This is called "corbelled" ceiling, with the rocks arching closer together towards the top).
In this other view of the interior, the little black spots to left and right, slightly below the midline of the photo, are pictures of blast holes left in the bedrock. That certainly dis-qualifies this chamber as being ancient but, given the large amount or recent and even modern ceremonialism in this area (the valley of Beaver Brook and Rt 495) it is possible it was made by Indians living here.
Here is a second very well preserved chamber about a quarter mile north of the previous one, also west of Whitcomb Ave. If you drive along slowly, just as the road dips to go over a brook, look west into the woods and you may see this one. It faces out over a brook and is only a few feet above the brook level. Neara friend Derek Gunn noticed this as we drove by one day.
The entrance was blocked off in recent times to discourage kids from falling down in there.According to the landowner, this chamber was used as a cool storage place for milk. Well, everyone has a story. Here are some interior views:
Although this looks like the first chamber above from the outside. From the inside you can see that it is not corbelled and that the roof is made of these large flat slabs. This style is called "Post and Lintel". Sadly, the proximity of these two chambers, so similar from the outside, argues against the interior (corbelled or not) as being significant or even a determinant of the people/culture that made the chambers.
Finally, right across from this second chamber, facing it across the gully, something caught my eye in the stone wall:Could this be the entrance to a third stone chamber? I could not see far into it:Perhaps someday someone could check it out. If it is indeed a stone chamber, filled completely with debris, it promises to be a pretty undisturbed archeological context.
So that is two or three chambers visible from Whitcomb Ave. As you drive along there are plenty of older stone foundations and interesting stonework. Even today, whoever built the new housing development (across the road from the last two chambers) is still building massive stonework. The brook as it continues downhill is sided with massive stone walls.
Finally let me also note that M&D in Manitou try to make a case for the entirety of Oak Hill being part of a single ceremonial context with a "Southern Oak Hill Chamber" matching this northern one and other features. However the southern chamber (which I blogged about here) is a very different type of architecture - most similar to the "Potato Cave" in Acton (see here). Also that southern chamber is really not on Oak Hill anymore, so I don't see any necessary connection between the chambers. It is certainly true that the valley of Beaver Brook and Elizabeth Brook (the Rt 495 corridor in Littleton, Harvard, Boxborough, Bolton, and Stow) is full of ceremonial structures. This is also the area of the "Boxoborough Esker". The actual unifying theme here is that this is the watershed divide between the Nashua River and the Assabet River, so it is an important "crossroad" in the path from Cape Cod to Canada. But there is no reason to think the different features scattered around are part of a unified and grand ceremonial scheme. Instead I think this was a ceremonial area for many different peoples at different times. Also there are huge numbers of sites in this area that were not found by M&D, so their story is not complete and a bit over-simplied. But, once again, they were here first.