Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fire, drone expose scale of prehistoric rock formations (Montana)

A 3-D map of the Henry Smith archaeological site was created from aerial images taken by a drone. (Photo: Photo courtesy/BLM)
       "Cutting-edge archaeological work that included use of a drone and prescribed fire has unearthed previously unknown information about a one-of-a-kind Native American archaeological site in northeastern Montana dating back thousands of years...It was the first time the BLM used an unmanned aircraft to document cultural resources on the northern plains, Chase said.
    It also was the first time a land management agency used a prescribed fire in concert with a drone within the confines of a cultural site, he said. The prehistoric collection of large-scale stone at the Henry Smith archaeological site spans 320 acres in Phillips County.
     Since the 1960s, it's been known that the site contained a buffalo jump, Chase said. But vegetation was preventing further archaeological research. The fire cleared obscured areas, revealing the true significance of the site.
     "We knew there was a large-scale archaeological site, but not necessarily the intricacies of it," Chase said of the results. A collection of rock formations with both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic features, meaning they resemble either humans or animals, were among the findings.
    Piles of rock known as cairns also were discovered. The alignments, which resemble multiple medicine wheels, indicate they are religious in nature..."
(And thanks go to Rob Buchanan for passing it along to me)

    The above photo also appears here: - with a link to an article from 2014: The Buffalo Chasers and this photo:
(Eric A. Powell) 
A rock cairn, part of a drive-line system at the Magee site that funneled buffalo toward a predetermined point, overlooks the Two Medicine River valley. The Stranglewolf jump site is visible in the distance on the opposite bank.
A detail of the images taken by an aerial drone reveals a series of stone circles. (Photo courtesy BLM)
Stone Circles at Henry Smith from:


Tim MacSweeney said...

"Typically, there is one or two features at an archaeological site, maybe tepee rings or cairns, Chase said. In this case, multiple features associated with the buffalo jump and the religious site are present.

"The representation of all that stuff in one site boundary is exceedingly rare and unique," he said. (Having never visited the Rock Piles Blog) Chase said he had never seen another one like it."

pwax said...

Great stuff.

Tommy Hudson said...

The first pic sort of looks like a bird to me. A bird head at the top of the pic with a beak pointing to the left and wings draped down to the bottom. Check out this link to Mississippian copper bird plates. They look similar? Maybe it's just me. :-)