Monday, June 30, 2014

Old Stone Tools - Saugatuck River (SW CT)

I had occasion to visit an old friend in W. Redding CT. Here are some photos she sent of stone artifacts we looked at in the past.
A beautiful pink quartzite core. From all the flake scars you can tell it was used to get a supply of smaller flakes.

I think the following is an old axe or perhaps a hoe. She writes:
The Axe might be just a rock.. OR, it could be a digging implement, since doesn't really have a honed edge and no visible signs of hard use. My feeling is it's for digging, if it's for anything.
My comment: the upper right hand edge is wavy, shows signs of having been a sharpened edge.But with that beautiful symmetry I believe it was for something.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Around the headwaters of Falulah - sw branch

I managed to see very little on this walk. I hoped to climb the hill at the southwest corner of this map but, in the heat and exhaustion of the moment, focused on getting through the mountain laurel in one piece. The whole area is so full of things, there were regular rock-on-rock spotted at the edge of the swamp all the way around.

To me, these are signs this watershed was significant and that ceremonies were done around the edges. 
The other thing I saw a lot of was "wall bulges", where a mound is built carefully into a wall - or perhaps the wall was added later to incorporate the mound. I do not believe all such remnants are ancient or necessarily ceremonial - cuz clearing rocks and retaining them neatly in the corner of a stone wall is one way rocks were cleared. But here are some that are not in the corners, and you could argue it either way:
Another. This one looks to me like it had an internal chamber, now collapsed into a hollow [compare to the one before last]:

The highest point was on the eastern fringes of Brown Hill [can't find link to previous report] where the brook comes out of a culvert at the bottom of a field. A few structures right at that point:

Then I walked down and down and down and down. Got back to the car tired out. 
A great walk and I was looking forward to a pork sandwich at "La Reyna" Portuguese Bakery on Rt 12 in Fitchburg (one of the perks of exploring out there) only to find they were out of bread at noon. Last time it was a Sunday and they were closed. Before that it was snowing and slippery. Gotta get one sometime.

Bridge over The Falulah, at Ashby West Rd

I am not the only one who loves this location. If you go there, know that there are mounds in all directions.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Moving large boulders

From Norman Muller:
I visited a very impressive lace wall site in Ashfield, MA , a couple of weekends ago, where Jim Vieira guided me to it.  The wall is more or less oriented north-south and follows a stream downhill.  The wall is tied in with outcrops and large boulders, which is the main reason I wanted to see this feature.  I was not disappointed.  Along the entire length of the wall are huge boulders, some I estimate to weigh a thousand pounds or more (see attachment).  Curt, in his report on the Killingworth site in CT, concluded that some large boulders/rocks at that site were probably moved into place after the colonial period, since it is not known that Indians were capable of moving large boulders without the aid of draft animals.  I pointed out that similar large boulders have been found at the Rochester site in Vermont (see next attachment), a site where the cairns now present preexisted before the land began to be developed in the early 1800s.  Curt found my research well done, but he didn’t make any direct comment that the Indians probably were able to move large stones before the introduction of draft animals. 

I pointed out other examples, such as one boulder in a wall in Georgia (3rd attachment), accepted by archaeologists to be an Indian wall, but again he didn’t address this directly.  So, have you ever wondered where exceptionally large stones in cairns and walls might have come from, and how they were transported to the construction site?   These are questions that few address.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Around Upton Chamber

Reader Jane R. writes:
I live next door to the Upton Chamber. I was perusing your site and I could not find any info on this historic site. Do you have anyone who has done searches here? Are there any pictures of things that have been found ? I have found sooo many things. I have a small rock with a drawing of an animal carved and highlighted on it. I have found a huge boulder I call the penis rock. There is also a large rock that resembles a penis  and one long one in the back of the chamber. There is a cairn on the back of a boulder that has many long straight lines carved on it and many small stones underground totally surrounding it.. In my back yard there is a boulder with a square raised platform with three splits leading away from it into a perfectly triangular hole. There is also a distinct turtle and many leaning rocks. This is just a few examples of the many things left behind by the chamber's original owners. I have pictures of everything but I do not want to publish them. I have shown them to many people including people from NEARA  Most are amazed but NEARA seems to have some alternate opinion of the origins and they do not want to have their theory disproven. There have been many visitors over the years including native Americans, tv producers, scientific organizations and psychics. I have lived here since 1976. There are reports of paranormal activity in some of the surrounding homes. One in particular. At one point there was in a short period of time, two house fires and a murder suicide. Just before I moved here the house on the chamber land burned down and my home which was the barn to the original home on the land burned down. Coincidentally on the same day that Malcolm Pearson  died. I am sure you must know who Malcolm is. This is an amazing site and I am dumbfounded that it does not get more attention.

I have attatched 4 pictures of some rocks in my back yard. The fourth one is a huge rock with many large pieces chipped off. I always wondered if it was the stone that they created stone points or tools from.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A really good day

     As luck would have it, Friday May 13 was an incredible day for me. It had rained fairly hard, it was cloudy, and the days at this time of year are long- perfect for going out after work and looking for stuff. Dave and I went out to a place that he discovered, where both of us have had some luck in the past. There is not a lot to find there but we both have found some extraordinary items in very many hours of careful and systematic searching.
     Before I begin I want to apologize for the quality of the photos. It was raining pretty hard and my camera was running low on space for photos. Also, I was excited.
     It was drizzling as we walked in to the place. A cool breeze was refreshing. I was feeling really positive, trying to visualize what a find might look like. I told Dave- "Tonight is the night for this place." Conditions were perfect out there, but maybe a little... creepy. The breeze blew curtains of cool rain over the landscape, it was really quiet. Twice we both heard what sounded like a large animal very nearby, but saw nothing. The clouds were thick and nobody else was around. We went to check the very best area first.
     The first unexpected finds were two testudinate forms. This lady was still laying her eggs.
     This one had finished up and was just relaxing.
     Not far away I spotted this sticking out of the ground. I wasn't sure if it was a tool or just a flake.
     Well, that's a shame. It's the base of a Stark point, made out of felsite. It was a large point. The break is patinated, likely it broke in ancient times.
     Anyway, that is a good find for me. A nice material, and I like to find Stark points, even just fragments. I don't find too many. So, I was happy. I didn't really expect to find anything else, often in this place Dave found we have searched for hours and found nothing. I was surprised, not much later, when Dave called me over to show me something on the ground. It was a small rock surface that was barely exposed.
     Good of him to spot this. We scrutinized it, never touching it. At the upper right there was a clear ear or notch. Definitely looking artificial. We studied it and discussed it and we both concluded it might be a drill. Would it be whole? Dave pulled his find out of the ground...

     Wow... I was just floored. The photos don't do it justice. It's so thin, the pink felsite is gorgeous. To see this thing come out of the ground... Brewerton Eared Notched, I would call this shape. I don't have one like this, not even a fragment. I'm happy for Dave. I was a little jealous (OK, maybe more than a little) but he found this place and he really has a good eye (and good luck) and he spotted it. He didn't let me keep this one, of course. I was content to be happy for his find.
     We walked on for a long time and didn't find anything else, not even broken pieces. The rain picked up.
     As the sun was going down I spotted this and called Dave over right away.
     A closer look.
     Again, we studied it. What were we looking at? At first I thought I was looking at the broken tip of something but Dave pointed out right away that it was an intact base. Another Stark, I thought. I remembered other times I saw a base sticking out of the sand like this. Sometimes as soon as my fingers brushed it it would fall away from the dirt, nothing more there than what was visible. Other times there would be more or less of the blade still there but very rarely would it be intact. I hoped... I touched it gently, no movement. I pulled a little, at first it offered some resistance. I said to Dave, "It's big..." Finally it gave way and started coming out of the sand. And it just kept coming...
     Wiped off a little...
     I was ecstatic. Finding something like this makes me as happy as anything in my life. It is such a thrill for me, a real success. This is the kind of stuff I think about in all those long hours of walking through dirt picking up broken quartz fragments or nothing at all. Probably I will not find a better artifact this year.
     I ask myself, would I rather have found the wonderful Brewerton Dave picked up? It's a better material, the shape is less common in the places I know. But this Stark is just so big. I don't think I could pick a favorite, I think they are both just great.
     On the way out I picked up a red stone that seemed artificially shaped, almost faceted. I couldn't see how it could have been a broken piece of a tool, though. It reminded me of ground slate bannerstones I have seen but the shape was wrong. I tucked it into my pocket with the chips and flakes I collected. I try to save as much archaeological evidence as possible in every place I search. At home I pulled it out and looked at it again.


     Looking closely I saw clear and obvious grinding marks on all the flat surfaces. The grinding marks, the parallel striations from abrading, go in different directions on each plane. No natural process did this. This was done by a person.
     What was the purpose of this? Some study provided the answer. This is red hematite and ancient people would grind this stone into powder to make pigment or paint. This abrasion is what created these flat smooth surfaces and grinding marks. I never found anything like this before. I'm really pleased with this, I imagine it was really special to someone, long ago.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More quartz

     Still trying to get caught up with posting my arrowhead finds. There will be one more post this week after this one- and I have saved the best for last.
     My last find in May. I went out after work, it had rained but I went to a spot that I had already searched and it had not rained enough to really make a difference. I did find this broken triangle. It is unusual because it is unifacially worked, made out of a flake. The other side is flat.
     On Sunday, June 8, I went to a place in Rhode Island that has produced some nice finds for me. Unfortunately the conditions were really bad and I only stayed for a short time, very few rocks were visible. I was pleased to find this tiny stemmed point.
     It is really small and not symmetrical but I think it is interesting. Would this tiny point have tipped a dart thrown with an atl-atl?
     On another workday evening Dave and I went to a favorite place. I didn't find anything but Dave spotted this little Squibnocket Triangle which he generously let me keep.
     This pretty rainbow would have made for a nice picture if not for my grubby fingernails. Well, it is dirty work, picking up all those rocks, hoping for a find.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cleaned-up small triangle- and more from the same spot last night

     Peter asked for a look at this arrowhead from the previous post after it was cleaned up. These shots give a much better look at the material. You will notice there is still some hazy patina and even dirt. Many collectors scrub their points with a toothbrush to remove this but I just rinse mine off and dry them with a soft towel, I try not to disturb the patina from centuries outdoors. It's hard for me to say what this stone is. Perhaps it is quartzite but I don't know it in this color.

     As I was posting yesterday I started thinking about these finds and the place where I found them. I hadn't spent that much time there, just a couple of hours, and I hadn't searched the whole place. In fact, I had not even searched most of the area that has been most productive for me in the past. Most of the terrain there is flat but there is a gentle slope in one place that rises to a little hill which drops off fairly steeply towards the water on the other side and that is where I find most of the artifacts in that place. It had rained since my visit, too, and probably conditions had changed, doubtless there would be more there to find. Why hadn't I gone back there? I hadn't had any plans to get out and search after work yesterday but I kept thinking about what I might be missing, I didn't have much free time last night but I did swing by there for a short walk. What a lovely evening it was, perfect weather, and quiet in this place, just me and a pretty brown doe and a chubby groundhog out there. It didn't take long at all to find something.
     Only a tiny part of the base had been visible and I thought it was just a flake as I was picking it up. The tip is damaged as you can see and it is fairly crude but these roughly made percussion flaked quartz points do have a lot of appeal to me, they seem to have character somehow and I like to imagine what they would have looked like hafted to a dart. Wading River, I would call this shape, from the Middle Archaic in New England.
    This stemmed base was obvious and easy to spot. Something of a heartbreaker because it is really nicely flaked. But it would have been a very long narrow point and it would be tough to find an unbroken one like this.
     I found a couple of other badly broken fragments as well, hardly worth showing. I'm pleased with these finds, and I still haven't covered the whole area thoroughly. I will go back after a good rain.