Saturday, June 03, 2023

A nice find from Massapoag

One of the best arrowheads I found this winter. Something like a "Snappit" projectile point:

Monday, May 29, 2023

Goodbye to Boulder

Rock climbers like these rock faces - the Flatirons -  in Boulder CO.

We took a stroll around Chatauqua Park. I noticed this above:
(Look just below  the line of trees on top of the hill.)

Ceremonial Sites on the way to and from Gold Lake, CO

Went to look for arrowheads up in the mountains in a "gentle valley" in the mountains not far from Boulder CO. On the way there, along Lee Hill Rd, there was a rock pile site at the high point. Private land prevented a good look. Here is what I could see:     

A little crisper:

So that was nice and I wish I could have gotten a better look. 

Then we went by dirt road (lost the County Rd numbers) to Gold Lake. On the way back I noticed this next to the road:

It leaves me with the impression that there are plenty of active Native American ceremonies going on. Here is a place New Englander's might get some insights into rock piling. I think my family was getting tired of my shouting...."wait! stop the car".

Hunting for Archeology near Boulder CO, Day 3 - Gold Lake

Before visiting Boulder I picked some places that looked worth exploring for arrowheads. One was the Pawnee Grasslands, just to see what was out there (see here); one was Rabbit Mountain (see here) because there were springs and the hope of finding game trails. On the third day, with my wife, son, and son's girlfriend, we explored what I hoped was a gentle valley within the Rocky Mountain National Park. I was hoping for an upland environment that was not strenuous for hiking, looked around the topo map and picked Gold Lake. 

Gold Lake, east of Ward CO, is a private campground. Later I decided that $210 for a night and three meals, would have been cheaper than staying at a hotel. Anyway, we ran into a guard who warned us off, and told us a few things about the area. I mentioned we were looking for arrowheads [you never know what you might learn] and he said this place, Gold Lake, was where the Arapahoe Chief Niwot spent summers. So my choice was a good one. All of the lake, and especially the northern shore, are private and closed. It turned out that south of the lake was national park with "unrestricted camping". So we drove over there and spent a couple hours poking around and trespassing, by sneaking in to look at the lakeshore, from a spot that could not be seen from the north. An artificial lake, they had drained it a bit:

Fire rings:

Gosh, I wanted to walk along that beach! The white stuff is, again, chalcedony - a form of SiO2 that has different structure from crystalline quartz. 

I think this is not quartz but not sure. Two pieces of worked edge, lying next to each other on the sand, seemed to fit together like a "plausible blade reconstruction". I doubt this is plausible, but you can get a sense of what an arrowhead might have looked like:

And that was as close as I got to finding an arrowhead in CO. Joe and Leah walked around for a while and found beautiful bits of quartz and chert but nothing complete. Joe reported finding a black feather with orange paint on it (making me think the Indians might still be around). I think we had fun and had some great pizza in Nederland on the way home.

Hunting for Archeology near Boulder CO, Day 2 - The Ron Steward Preserve on Rabbit Mountain

Another one of the types of places in CO that seemed worth exploring for arrowheads were a few spots marked "spring" on my topo map. I picked the furthest east foothill of the Rockies I could find. I figured that, in an arid environment, a spring would be a likely place to find signs of man. Sadly most of the "nature" around Boulder is fenced off to protect it from a bike-crazed culture. 

[A brief digression for social commentary: Boulder area is overrun with physical fitness enthusiasts. For them, nature is an extension of the gym - a place for vigorous exercise. Sadly they have no idea what to do outdoors. The rivers did not even have boat launches! It makes me contemplate trying some kind of outreach, to teach them about identifying flowers, birdwatching, archeology hunting, butterflies and moths.....the list goes on. One senses that a large number of New Yorkers relocated to this area, for the rock climbing and the overall hipness of the place. On the other hand, it has the least expensive and most excellent food I have had, anywhere in America.]

Driving up to the Ron Stewart Preserve, I started to notice stone walls:

The first spring we went to on Rabbit Mountain was public land, fenced off from the public. We got lucky and found some un-fenced public trails on the western side of Rabbit Mountain. 

Everywhere, there were suggestive bits of wall, propped rocks, and outlines on the ground. Was it purely ceremonial? I doubt it. This is the traditional homeland of the Arapahoe, who where a [displaced eastern?] Algonquian speaking tribe. One imagines them sharing some stone placing traditions with the New England tribes. But we were looking for arrowheads and thinking about hunters. All the walls I got to look at carefully were designed as funnels running up the sides of slopes.

We walked up the path a bit:
I kept noticing rock-on-rock, and little hints of stone wall. After thinking about it, I conclude that animals would prefer to not step on rocks, so even a sketchy wall is enough to encourage an animal to make a choice. In this last photo there is a bit of wall along the side of the path. You could suppose they tossed rocks over there while making the path. Or you could assume the wall caused the animals to walk along that side of the wall - creating a game trail which, today, is a human one.

We left the path at an outlook, heading down over slippery rocks to get a better look at a wall. It was rainy so what is apparently a very rattlesnake-y place was safe to scramble around. There was a big wall cutting across the slope:

The wall passes a pine tree, right of center. Just left of there, is a bare place on the hill with a scatter of rocks. That is a structure. Up close: 
It turns out that just below the pine tree, there is a gap in the wall and a short stretch just below that, blocking the gap - as I'll show in a moment. I wanted to believe this 'structure' was where the hunters waited. So the arrowheads and flaking debris would be under ground here. We should have stopped and looked more carefully. We should have climbed further up hill and examined the "pass". I was over-pre-occupied with the stone wall.

Here is the pine tree, the gap is below it.

Just below the gap was a short stretch of stone wall:
At the near end:
That looks like a path. I conclude, the walls are there for animal flow control. Look closely at this. There are little hints:
We did not see a single flaked rock. I was too busy looking at arranged rocks.

Hunting for Archeology around Boulder CO, Day 1 - The Pawnee Grasslands

When else was I going to get anything like a genuine "Great Plains" experience?. Planning to visit my son in Boulder I spent weeks pouring over maps and aerial photos trying to decide where we should go look for arrowheads. 

Found the perfect spot: next to a major creek (Howard Creek), on public land (Pawnee Grasslands National Park), and signs of past plowing - with long straight lines from industrial scale plowing overlaid on curved lines from manual plowing. So the ground will have been churned. I zoomed in on a destination (up CR77 from Briggsdale, between CR96 and CR100 - figured we could pretend to be bird watching, if deception was called for) and, to my delight, spotted a marking on the map: "Arrowhead Windmill". Seemed just right.

Drove out that way (~100 miles from Boulder), getting to chat with my son, we finally arrived and stepped out. The ground was covered with chips:

Mostly chalcedony (a form of SiO2, different from quartz in its flaking properties) and jasper. We did not find arrowheads but scrapers and worked edges.

Top to bottom: a scraper made of jasper (metamorphosed chert); a chalcedony working edge; a bit of a 'hatchet' made of chert [??].

Nothing too cool but we only spent two hours out looking around. Honestly these were the most confusing things I ever looked at. At first things looked like debris, then I noticed working edges and differential polish. None of it made any sense. Perhaps the smaller items were multi-purpose.

Worth the 100 miles just to be there:

I get a laugh, zooming in on this one. Where else could you pee and scan a horizon like that?

A bit later, we walked over to Arrowhead Windmill. The water tasted a bit chalky, there were no arrowheads underfoot, but there was a bit of a structure I did not understand:
These were the only rocks visible on the surface. 

That was at the very edge of the grasslands. There is un-restricted camping throughout [in most of the Boulder area you can see nature only through a barbed-wire fence] so it would be fun to go deeper in, finding better wetlands, and spend a week basking in the emptiness.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

An incredible piece of rock crystal

According to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, this is a piece of rock crystal. I have a hard time believing it. Maybe it is SiO2 crystal but forged, not natural. 

Both Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster Agree

  Both Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster agree that Pareidolia (per-ˌī-ˈdō-lē-ə -ˈdōl-yə) is: "The tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness."

But what do you call perceiving meaningful intentional repeated visual patterns????

A triangular flat topped boulder,

Chosen perhaps because of the suggestion of an eye, 

In just the right place, in order to appear as a Big Stone Snake???

A diamond shaped stone, seven scales back,

Can sometimes be another repeated pattern,

Another important stone, perhaps fallen, whispers:

"Possibly the Crystal," but one just can't say for sure...

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A slope with stone walls just north of the Boulder CO "Flatirons"

Consider this slope, which I believe has several deliberate stone lines, forcing game to climb the slope along specific routes. 

Here are some possible rows of lined-up rocks I can see in the picture. Some of them might be natural outcrops but "four in a row" (when they are adjacent rocks) makes it statistically unlikely that they are random. You have to look very closely.

The stone rows are loosely defined. It is easy to imagine a hooved animal preferring to step on grass rather than rock. So a stone row would cause an animal to make a choice between sides of the row to walk along. So the slope is covered with binary "gates" running upward and converting the continuum of choices into finite possibilities. 

This would allow for a very flexible trap control system- depending on the wind conditions. Imagine a few runners chasing game uphill towards predictable places above, where hunters with spears waited! Today, you can see places on the hillside where the grass is growing longer, and other places where the grass is short and flattened down. The animals are still using the paths and the hunters are long gone. 

I bet there are arrowheads up there. For reference, this is the slope right across from Chatauqua Park, between the Flagstaff and Crown Rock trails.

The Intersection of Rock Piles and Arrowheads

Noticing out-of-place rocks and non-random rock arrangements are visual skills that are helpful for looking for rock piles here in the East. When I go hiking out West, these skills automatically kick in and I notice things that, in the end, seem closely related to animal "flow control" and hunting. It is easy to infer a practical significance to the western structures and this makes me wonder if some of our eastern ones might have a practical function we are not aware of. In any case, skills for finding rock piles are related to skills for finding arrowheads - or at least for finding hunting sites.

Let me give a few examples. In Nevada I explored a hill looking for arrowheads, found barely visible rock piles, and learned something interesting about how hunting worked at this site. In the Boulder area of Colorado, I noticed many subtle stone walls arranged on hillsides - making funnels, blocking off spaces, and covering the entire slope in such a way that they might work differently in different wind conditions. I see on YouTube that animal "funnels" are a good place to find arrowheads but it is hard for me to get to the top of a steep slope (just like the poor animals that went that way) and, in eastern Colorado, there is enough topsoil that you would have to excavate to find arrowheads - or get lucky with the erosion. 

I have written a bit about Nevada here and here is a link to one of the sites from Colorado. If you are impatient, take a very close look at this slope just north of the "Flatirons".

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Micmac Stories

This might be of interest. For instance: discussion of serpents and of cliffs with faces.

Mi'kmaw Story Sites and Geology of Nova Scotia with Gerald Gloade - YouTube

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Damaged triangular points from the Rt 495 corridor

Slim pickings from cornfields along Rt 495. 

This one, is a "Levanna" triangle.

Chris P. describes finding a complete one here. It is a unique shape.

Here is a quartz triangle. Hard to find one that is un-damaged.

That is the last of the finds from last year's planting. Now, fields are being plowed and there will be a few new opportunities.