Friday, February 17, 2017

Foot Traffic Patterns of the Past - Another look at trails in the snow in Upton

As I posted about here, there were interesting trails visible through the woods, highlighted by the dusting of snow. I don't think you can see them in any other conditions and you get an incredible "profile" of what foot traffic was happening when the site was in use. So here are two views that show a very short bit of stone wall which, as I described, is in line with two other longer - but still short - stretches of wall. Here are the two original images. First shows a standing stone in the background to the right. If you click in you will see a trail from the standing stone over to the short stretch, also in the background:
Looking in the other direction, the short(est) stretch is in the middle of the photo. You can see a "main" trail going along to the right of and parallel with the lines of stone wall.
You can also see trails leading up to the short stretch from the other direction.
In a little more detail from the first photo: a trail running between the standing stone (shown by the red arrow) and the short stretch of wall.
In the second photo, you not only can see a different trail coming in to the main trail at the same short stretch, but also a bit of a "cloverleaf":
Fossilized behavior. Tell me I am imagining it. Something like this:

5 comments :

pwax said...

Archeologists who want to rely solely on an ethnographic record and the memories of living Native Americans are ignoring the fact that these sites speak for themselves when you give them a chance.

Matthew Howes said...

Thanks for sharing this Peter, this is very good work. Coincidentally I was thinking of this kind of a thing just the other day, in my head (maybe subconsciously after I had seen that last post of yours on the subject), with a similar site by the Milford/ Holliston line that has stone walls. It gets very interesting when one can discern the ancient foot trails. All it takes is insight, a little intuition and experience. The other day I was thinking that in lieu of a Mayan temple (artificial hill), the natural rising rock outcrops would have served, which appear to be everywhere (in association with the site I was thinking of). For instance, finding a rock outcrop such as the rock-shelter that was excavated by archaeologists at Flagg Swamp in Marlborough in the 1980's. The kind of research you are sharing in this post adds another dimension of what life and lifestyles would have been like, the whole area would have been "fortified", more maintained. I like this, it is panning the vision out wider.

James Gage said...

The presumption is these are pathways from human walking. I have seen well worn paths created by deer (hunters call them game trails). I have also seen well worn trails in pastures created by livestock (cows, horses, etc) on active farms. My question is how do you distinguish between an old human trail, a game trail, and an old livestock pasture path?

pwax said...

Good point.

When a trail passes two stone landmarks in a row, then it is noteworthy, whether made by deer or man. It is evidence that the landmarks are special and that perhaps they are not all natural. It helps me decide if a distant stone is or is not part of the artificial arrangement of the site.

But it is possible that the site builders left no trails and the trails we see show how the deer and animals are forced to move around the structures. So it is just a working hypothesis that the trails were made by man.

pwax said...

If you look at the diagram at the end, the trails pass next to piles rather than between them.