Friday, April 30, 2010
I thought I saw a post on Rock Piles with pictures of a chamber with an entrance below ground level and steps leading down to the entrance. This reminded me of a chamber in the Dennytown area of Putnam County NY which also has its entrance below ground level.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Update 2: covering perhaps 100 square yards (10x10) I cannot see that it would even be possible to dump rocks from a cart at the center of this pile. So, if anyone wants to defend the "field clearing" hypothesis, send 'em over here to address this example.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
This is a revisit to a site in Arctic China state forest. The focus on this post is one of the stone rows at the site, and a spring that I did not discover when I was out there two years ago. The site is separated by a wide dirt logging road.
Starting at the higher end of the site, where the majority of the rock piles are located, is this small, inconspicuous line of rock piles.Heading down the line of rock piles, on the other (south) side of the dirt logging road, it seems to turn into more of a stone row with only an occasional rock structure poking out above the dead leaves. This one:...then this one which, arguably, may be the end of the row:Further downhill, some strange configuration of rocks next to this boulder. The boulder also looks like it has a couple of shims between it and the very bottom rock, but I'm not certain if that's natural or man-made. The structure in the prior photo is just visible in the background, up the hill at the base of the tree.Suddenly, as from nowhere, this small niche appears with water coming out of it......and a short distance from that, a small pool of spring water appears (with a pretty rock on rock just to the left, although it's cut off in this picture)...
...and then runs downhill into the East Branch Cold Spring Creek.To put this into perspective (not insinuating any alignments of structures to the sunset here), this site has rock structures, a spring, and a nice view of the Winter Solstice sunrise.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Emerson College Professor, Daniel Gaucher's film "Written in Stone" premiered to a small but enthusiast crowd at the Boston International Film Festival last evening (Thursday April 22). This film chronicles the acrimonious debate between academia and amateur research organizations like NEARA over the many stone structures found throughout the northeast. In delves into how academic infighting and politics along with competing egos within amateur ranks came close to completely derailing all scientific research into the subject. At moments, you realize how close the field came to completely imploding upon itself and losing all creditable. The film also highlights the pioneering work of Mavor & Dix, and the work of current researchers (inside and outside of academia) who continue to push for scientific standards of research for the field, reestablish the creditability of stone structure studies, and seek the preservation of these sites. The film showcases, how against all odds, that a paradigm shift is truly underway.
The film puts the history of stone structures research into perspective. It shows where the field has been and its triumphs and failures along the way. It summarizes where the field is currently at including the impact of the Turner Falls Airport decision. It offers an optimist view of the future but emphasizes the need for NEARA, academia, and amateur researchers to capitalize on the shifting paradigm to preserve these sites, place the field on a solid scientific footing, engage in cooperation with each other, and give serious consideration to all the theories about these structures especially the Native American theory.
The film's producer Daniel Gaucher does a brilliant job of explaining the complexities of stone structure research and the competing theories about them. Gaucher offers a very balanced review of the history of the field and the many theories which have come and gone over the years. He does so in manner that is understandable to an audience not familiar with the subject. The real testament to the power of this documentary is that the audience "got it", they grasp the issues and came away with a solid understanding of the subject. For many of us who have spend many hours trying to explain what we do to the general public, we know from experience just how difficult a task it is to explain rock piles so that people understand them.
There will be a free public viewing of the film on Sunday May 16 @ 11am in Stuart Street Theater in Boston. See the website for details http://www.writteninstonedoc.
Through my blinders, this looks like "hollows", "tails", and "ski jumps". In other words, pretty much the same culture as I have been writing about. Let's call it the "Inland Empire" for a moment. It is particularly interesting that the Hudson River is less of a barrier than the Nashua River; as if to the east of the Nashua some other culture was blocking this Inland culture. Perhaps Norman M. can comment on the similarity with the Oley Hills site.
Update: Norman corrects me. The Nashua River is not a real boundary.
I noticed more site layout around this second large pile. Here is a kind of alignment of rock piles: There were also many small nondescript piles, perhaps worth more attention:
Also some of the piles were larger and better preserved. Look at this one:closer: Here are some others: [Love that sense of pushing through the laurel to see these for the first time].
These piles have the characteristic feature of one side being slightly flat and vertical, a characteristic I think of as having an astronomical function. Whatever its purpose, the presence of such piles here, near these mounds with hollows, shows exactly the same site structure as many of the sites I have been finding this spring and calling the "Wachusett Tradition". It is the most common type of site I see out here west of the Nashua River.
Gosh, I forgot to mention, there was another little pocket of rock piles that seemed to have a larger "manitou stone"-shaped rock sticking out the top:
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Some shad flowers in the rain:some blueberry flowers in the rain:and a bright bit of fungus:
Update: Norman Muller sends this photo from Killingsworth:
Hard not to agree that these two examples are very similar.
I am pushing through the laurels on a hillside in Leominster and come to a big messy pile. Is it just discarded rock?Not really. On the one hand, these are not random sized rocks but selected for as a certain size - not too large to carry nor too small. On another hand this is not at any kind of "angle of repose"; and finally there are lots of other little rock piles in the vicinity of this larger one. You can see some piling on the boulder to the right, and we'll look around more in a moment:[Let me digress briefly. To argue this is a ceremonial pile, you might also say: "why would they clear a field with a big pile in the center of the field when there are stone walls and discard piles along the walls and no reason to depart from that as a rock disposal strategy". I think this argument is self defeating: if you keep bringing up field clearing as a hypothesis, you are keeping that hypothesis alive rather than killing it with neglect. The right way to defeat a hypothesis is to support a better one.]
Taking a look at this pile from a different angle, there is a piece of quartz (click to see where the red arrow is pointing):closer:
closest:A nice piece. This was the only quartz I saw on the hillside, although I did not look carefully. A solitary piece of quartz in a rock pile is a familiar pattern. Here is another view of the quartz (it is on the right):Would you agree that there is a somewhat circular depression (a "hollow") with the quartz on the right hand lip of the depression? The pile was a mess and I could not make much of its structure but I was hoping to see hollows.
Let's look around some more in the vicinity. Smaller piles all around:
Weary old things.In spite of my bravado I was still doubting if this was a ceremonial site. The site does follow a plan I have been preoccupied with lately: a central large "mound" with hollows, surrounded by smaller outliers [see here]. But I persisted, spiraling outward from the center and seeing more and more little ones.
Then I push through some brush and..."woo hoo!"
For me, that is a nice looking mound. We'll take a closer look at it in a subsequent post. At this point in the walk, I stopped being uncertain about the site.
After that, it was pretty much rock piles and ceremonial features, giving me pause in overly hasty dismissal of these wall features.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Here are a few shots from the NEARA field trip. We hiked up Overlook Mountain near Woodstock NY. It is an area with a history of Native American activity, forestry, and slate quarrying, so the usual difficulties with interpretation apply. But the features were impressive, including massive elongated cairns, stone on boulder rockpiles, and “serpent walls”.
Here’s one of the giant cairns. The wall is curved around the two trees in front, leading one to wonder whether they (or a previous stump that had been forested) were there when the structure was built.Many stone on stone features at several sites on the hillside. We debated whether the moss on some stones on this pile indicated recent rearrangement or different moisture retention of those stones, which did appear to be more porous.
A short wall terminating in a large boulder could be interpreted as a serpent effigy, especially given the mouthlike crack.