Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Cape Cod footpath?

 Reader Diane sends these pictures and writes:


I'm looking for any info regarding this raised linear foot path.  Its located in a cedar swamp / forest in South Yarmouth Ma.  The water table here is very low so the swamp appears dried up for now.  This area is a few yards away from a pond.  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Golden Eagle on a Ceremonial Structure

Somewhere in Spain (Valle de Iruelas Avila?)...

Somewhere on YouTube....(here)

Looks like one of those burials they excavate in Scotland. Being as how we are quick to spot such things, here in archeology-starved New England, it is quite possible that they don't realize it is a prehistoric structure, there in Spain. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Ice Age Relic/Balancing Rock (Watertown CT)

Florence T. Crowell Photo Accessed from: https://www.facebook.com/334846928460/photos/a.337556648460/10157676881323461

Watertown CT Historian Charlie Crowell writes: "Before being used as a monument, this stone was known as “balancing rock.” At its original site, it sat on top of a rock outcropping and was so finely balanced that a small child could push it and to would rock back and forth, but it couldn’t be knocked over. The seemingly precariously balanced boulder was left in that position by the last ice age. The process of dragging the rock to its present site was grueling and laborious. It was done using horses..."

In a personal communication to my friend Al Conley, Charlie notes:  "Richard Sperry, owner the land where the boulder originally sat, wanted to keep it as a balancing rock even after it was moved and set up as a monument. He thought engineers could handle the job, but it never happened."

More here: http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2020/11/ice-age-relicbalance-rock-watertown-ct.html


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Indian Rock Piles in the Massachusetts Woods - Waksman's 2014 lecture in Acton

Edited a bit, sloppy in some places, nevertheless this contains much of the basic "logic" of this subject. Hope it is entertaining:

Friday, November 13, 2020

Split Wedged Rock - Sippewissett


There should be word for this: when a dog posts guard on top of a structure.

Note the steel drill holes and the already removed portion of boulder, on the left side. You may need to zoom in to see the wedge. The missing piece of boulder was not nearby. In the course of trying to convince a friend that this was a ceremonial structure, I argued myself into the position that this wedge could have been used as a separator, inserted when the rock was first broken, to keep the sides offset from each other during subsequent moving and removal. Of course that does not preclude the wedge having been used with ceremonial intentions as well. :)

Connelly Hill

 Are there any readers from the Holliston/Upton area that can go check a site? I was glancing at the map:

Given the extremely rich collection of sites just to the east, it seems obvious that there will be sites around the marsh, circled in red. 

I checked the satellite view and there are building all around, so this may involve some tresspassing. Any takers?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Which Turtle? Which Place?


The Significance of a Stone Turtle 
 Or a Turtle Made of Stones 
Depends on
Which Turtle in Which Place

Above: Judges Woods Turtle Effigy (incorporated into a "memorial"). Below: A Diamondback Terrapin Effigy above the Hammonasset Salt Marsh, "Hunting Grounds," like Ed Lenik says, not for a Turtle Clan, but for the Diamondback Terrapin, if you are looking for the simplest answer as to "Why this particular Turtle in this particular place?"

As a modern day observer of Stone Turtles
 Or Turtles Made of Stone 
The main significance is that the Stone Turtle speaks, saying:
 “Indigenous hands were on these stones,
    Placing them just so in order to resemble Turtles…”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

So what if it looks like a turtle?

OK, I may be in some disagreement with my colleagues who are sending pictures of rocks that look like turtles, or rock piles that look like turtles. I figure I should ask: what is the significance of a rock or rock pile looking like a turtle?

We are aware that the turtle is a very important creature with its thirteen shell plates and it place in the mythology as the creator of earth. But let's take a rock, for example, that everyone agrees looks like a turtle. "There is a turtle....it was revered".

What I am curious about it whether my colleagues leave it at that? I want to propose something else: that the rock with a point on it, and the pile shaped like a turtle had a function which is enhanced by the turtle presence, but that is not the primary characteristics of the feature. 

What I mean is, the pointed rock might cast a sharp shadow, or the turtle pile may have the same function as other piles nearby that lack the turtle shape . In both cases I assume that primary function is made stronger and given more power due to it being a turtle. 

But to have a modern observer experience a turtle shape does not seem to say a lot about the past. So I ask my colleagues what they make of it, beyond observing a turtle's shape?

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Another Quick Comparison


Possible 'Turtle' Rocks

Norman Muller writes:

I read your recent post about single stones resembling turtle heads.  Maybe yes, maybe no,  I prefer something clearer, such as that turtle petroform at Killingsworth, CT, with its prominent head, carapace and legs, particularly visible on one side. 
Or that remarkable turtle boulder in Voluntown, CT, that Larry Harrop discovered (P1120480), 
which has an anthropomorphic construction on top, perhaps alluding to the origin of man.  Or a large glacial erratic in Rochester, VT, which from one side looks like an upraised turtle head (DSC0030).  
Whereas from the other side there is a curious stone platform attached (DSC0120), the latter
perhaps emphasizing the importance of this particular boulder.

A Quick Comparison


Saturday, November 07, 2020

A couple turtles in Beebee Woods, Falmouth

A small concession to my friend Tim MacSweeney. I have to admit that these rock-on-rock examples had turtle head shapes. Seems pretty deliberate. 

At a low point

On a slope

Thursday, November 05, 2020

A minimal site in Woods Hole

A site can occupy as little as 10x10 square feet, so it is not surprising to find something in even the smallest patch of woods. There is a thin strip of woods across from the entrance to Devil's Lane and I poked my nose in their yesterday. Saw a little circle of rocks, too small and uncharred to be a fireplace:

A bit small for a person to have sat in, I suppose this is a 'niche'. But the thought also occurred to me that it might have been a small 'U', now stoppered after use.
A few feet away on the knoll, something that would be easy to miss, four rocks in a row.
Straight lines make me think "astronomy". Mavor was up and down in these woods.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The spread of Mississippian Culture


I was enjoying reading this article, especially as they did something rarely done: they showed a picture of an arrowhead. I don't know about you, but I judge arrowhead style to be a good cultural indicator. If you find a Clovis point, you assume a Clovis culture. Similarly, if you find a notched triangle, like the above, you assume a common culture. In this case we can call it "Mississippian".

OK, so here are arrowheads from the "Sinagua" culture, from near Prescott AZ:

Note that the small one (and it is pretty tiny) is a notched triange - clearly from some version of a Mississippian Culture. 
Question: Guess where else these arrowheads are found?

Answer: "Pre-Classic Mayan Arrowheads", retrieved from Google image search:

When I realized the authors were un-aware of older cultures than the Mississipian one, with these same arrowhead styles, I stopped reading. 

Should I be shocked the authors do not even know basic facts of their own subject matter? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Last of the “Woodbridge Indians”

   "According to Woodbridge resident Edee Lockyer, who visited the cemetery as a child in the 1940s, the graves were then mounded up and covered with rocks. Sadly, the graves were repeatedly disturbed over many years. Today, there are no gravestones or burial mounds; rather, the grave sites are sunken. The stone marked pillars were erected in the mid 1920’s by the Daughters of the American Revolution of Derby, Connecticut..."


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Curt Hoffman Talk - Wednesday night Zoom

Oct 21 7 PM EST Curt is talking in Acton: 


Passcode: 716028

Saturday, October 17, 2020

What did the Indians know?

Since first learning about ceremonial stone structures I have wondered, as have others, how much of the specific ceremonies is remembered by today's Native Americans? Mavor concluded that there was a bit of residual knowledge, kept by some families; but nothing that would inform our understanding of what we find in the woods. Personally, I concluded, based on how many fresh rock piles appear (almost none) and their adherence to familiar patterns (incomplete, at best) that Mavor was essentially correct. I listened carefully, during an "expert panel on rock piles" at a NEARA meeting, when the president of USET, over the speaker phone, thanked Doug for teaching the member tribes about rock piles. He said: "We did not know about these things and you showed us the way". That seemed definitive.

In fact, the Native Americans - notably Doug Harris -  like to imply they always knew about rock piles. "The cat is out of the bag", Doug used to say when asked why these ideas were being discussed for the first time now, rather than at any time in the past. This always leaves me concerned that I am stepping on the toes of people who really know about rock piles because they are the originators of them. It is a huge opportunity to make a fool of myself.

Yet, I am given pause seeing a picture of the Narragansett medicine man standing on a stone mound and walking across it casually. An act of disrespect.

In any case, I just noticed a bit of logic that escaped me earlier.  If Doug Harris already knew about rock piles, then why would he take multiple walks with me? If he already knew about rock piles then why did the USET resolution appear (Resolution 2003:022) , identifying eight towns, only after I gave Doug the names of those towns? Had the main purpose of the USET resolution been the political aspect of working with New England towns, then Doug, who is an extremely busy person, would have gone to the towns first and not bothered taking walks with me.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Medawlinno Footprints (Henniker NH)


     Sherry L. Gould writes: "These footprints are in Henniker NH where the Abenaki believe foot prints were left here by Medawlinno. People with extremely powerful medicine, like Passaconaway, could press their feet into solid earth.

     There is no oral tradition of what person may have left these prints in the rocks in Henniker that we have found yet. Just our traditions of what kind of person was able to do it, and traditions of Passaconaway's abilities..."


Ed Lenik writes:

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Indian Idol (Woodbury CT)

   “It is no less than an Indian idol or charm, artistically cut from piece of rock, which appears to have been originally a piece of petrified walnut wood. It was found in 1860, on the lot near F. Minor's, before mentioned as the place where the most perfect specimens have been found. It was discovered while hoeing corn. It evidently represents some animal, but it is difficult to divine what. It has pretty well form ed head and body, with large, round ears, and holes for the insertion of four legs, but the latter are missing. It looks as much like the representative of an enormous lizard, as anything. It can hardly represent the Great Spirit. It is not of sufficiently attractive conception for that. It may, therefore, be presumed to be the likeness of Hobbamoko, or their Spirit of Evil, whom they feared, and worshipped more assiduously than the Good Spirit, whom they supposed lived quite at his ease, caring little for the actions or affairs of his red children, after having given them their corn, beans and squash, and taught them the mode of their cultivation. Some of these relics our artist has endeavored to make plain to the mind's eye."

"And Nonnewaug, too, at the appointed time, slept with his fathers, and the small remnant of his people buried him in the beautiful plain at the foot of the musical falls that are called by his name, where his fathers' people had been buried before him, true to their instinct of selecting the most beautiful places by the river side, by the silvery cascade, or in the verdant plain. An apple tree was planted at the head of his grave, which still stands there, the faithful guardian of the ashes that repose beneath its grateful shade. It is venerable tree, some 150 years old, but docs not bear the marks of so great an age, though there are several decayed places in it, so perfectly shown in the accompanying cut of the grave and tree, taken by the artist on the spot during the last summer. When the writer first visited it, twenty years ago, there was large hillock, or mound, raised over the grave, which remained, distinguishing the sachem's, by its size, from the other graves around him, till few years ago, when the present owner of the field committed the sacrilege of plowing it down, saying he was not going to have such an old "hummock in his field," much to the regret of every true antiquarian, and lover of ancient things. The mound thus destroyed was some ten feet long, six feet wide, and four feet high, having been gradually formed, in the same way, as in the case of Pomperaug's grave."

HISTORY OF ANCIENT WOODBURY  (Wm. Cothren Vol. II  page 884-5)


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Sorry for the lack of posts

 There have been fewer opportunities for exploring and a lot of sluggishness, lately

Saturday, August 15, 2020

 Reader Connor B. writes:

I was exploring the cliff edges of Mt Tom in Holyoke MA far from any trails and I found this. Have you ever seen something similar? It was right up on the edge of the cliff, looking west. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Mendon Town Forest

Reader Keith told me about a site in Mendon and it was great going back in the woods. Thinking about seeing rock piles in the woods, after months of doing other things, the whole idea that there would be Native American ceremonial stone structures out there begins to seem like a dream. The idea that I could take a few steps up a hill and see a collection of structures facing west, spread out down the side of the hill, seemed unreal. Not because I didn't trust the information but because the whole idea is so alien to this modern, currently coronavirus-focused, culture. But you step into the woods and there the rock piles are - still and peaceful. And you think: these may still be around, even if America passes away.

So it was with these thoughts that I followed Keith's directions [enter from Asylum Street, take the northernmost trail] and within 10 minutes found myself in a wonderful collection of rectangular mounds with hollows. 
There were also satellite "marker" piles, near each of the larger mounds. Generally the site was undisturbed and the piles were in excellent shape. If you head downhill and upstream to a little valley northeast of the summit, there are other mounds down in there and, at the headwater, a different sort of mound, larger and [seemingly] older.

At first, a glimpse of a few piles near the summit lets me know I am getting into it. Then, this rock on rock seems to signal a "final approach", as we get to larger piles.
And here we are at the top.
(from another side)
This was perhaps the largest of the mounds that are scattered across the northern slope near the summit. The site "faces" northwest. Just downhill from this first mound, was a small boulder in line with a marker pile:

And here are several other mounds:

Beautifully made, and in excellent shape. So much so that you begin to think the hollow in the pile never had a covering of stones. Perhaps the pile was covered with brush?

Added Later: This photo shows a good example of a right-angled (90 degree) corner in a mound. This is why I call the mounds "rectangular". Not all corners need to be present. It was significant to me that Doug Harris instructed people in Carlisle who were building a viewing platform near a rock pile site to avoid making corners in the platform. That idea was not part of the culture of the people who made this site in Mendon, nor generally in inland Middlesex.

Here is another, with a larger, longer pile in the background:

Here is a boulder connected to a rectangle with hollows:

The slope continues:

And you follow it down and to the right (east) and find other rectangular mounds next to the "crease" of water flow:

Is there anything more marvelous than an ancient ruin, poking up through the hay-scented ferns? 

Following the gully up hill, one finds:

Seen from above, this is a different style of mound: larger, not so rectangular, and more broken down. 
To me this seems older than the fresh piles on the summit. Which fits into a theory, that "water loving" burials are older than "sky loving" ones. This site, sitting at one of the highpoints feeding into the Blackstone River, began in the valley and, over time, went higher on the hill. That is how I imagin it developed. Generally in various places, the higher on the hill, the better the condition of the rock piles.

Heading back, a few other things, seen in passing:

This one looks like an effigy:

Thanks Keith!