Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Oley Hill site dates to 2500 years ago

I asked Norman Muller about his dating result for the Oley Hills. They used OSL (Optically Stimulated Luminescence) to arrive at a date of 2500 BP, for one of the terraces at Oley Hills. He wrote:

Yes, the Oley site is much older than Cahokia.  I am of the opinion that the large platform stone mounds in the Northeast were inspired by the earthen mounds in the Midwest.  Or maybe the influence went in the other direction!  You are aware, of course, of that large geometric earthen mound in western MA (see LiDAR attachment; the mound is about 50 feet high and 200 feet long at the base; the top is precisely oriented to the cardinal directions.  I visited the site with Timreck and Lisa Gannon).

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Ontario Mounds

Reader Joanne writes:

We found these unusual stacked rock piles deep in the woods.  The one is quite large, almost an igloo shape, maybe 10 feet across and 4 feet high with a depression in the centre. It is made up of carefully placed stones.  About 65 feet away from it is a flat circular mound about 6 feet across, under a very distinctive bent tree.
Further on in the woods we found another stacked pile up against a rock out cropping but I don't have a clear photo of it. These piles are well back in the woods and not near any homesteads or farms, or even roads. 

 Any thoughts on their origin?  Thanks for taking a look at them.

[Added later:] This site is west of Algonquin park in Ontario. In the park itself there are 41 smaller rock cairns but none as large as this one.

Mike Martin's Cave

A reader writes: 

Rock Piles contributors, especially Jimp:

I have a challenge for you:

I'm researching "Captain Lightfoot," the "last of the New England highwaymen" who was hanged in 1821 for a robbery near Medford, MA.

The attached article (first column) from an 1885 edition of the Boston Globe describes a cave alleged to have been used by Lightfoot, i.e.Michael Martin.

The location is Arlington, MA--now much developed.But the streets mentioned (Highland Ave, Spring Road (Old Spring Street?), place this very near Menotomy Rocks.

Is the cave in this article the one found by Jimp in Menotomy Rocks Park?

Jerry Kuntz
Warwick, New York

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Curt Hoffman Talk

Dr. Curtiss Hoffman will present a talk on stone structures to the archaeology club at Norwalk Community College, via Google Meets, at 7:30 PM this evening, April 29th.  The log-in code is

Old Sugar Shack Snake Effigy (Woodbury CT)

 A stone wall-like roadside Snake Effigy, hiding in plain sight:

41.590 - 73.199
I found I didn't need to overlay an eye to emphasize the idea of a snake head:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Nobscot Park

Curt Hoffman writes:

Sometimes, you can discover these sites without having looked for them.  Yesterday, I was looking for a way around the construction on Edgell Road and Water St./Edwards Rd. in Framingham, MA to get to a destination, and I happened to notice on GoogleMaps the notation "Rock Pile" within the bounds of Nobscot Park, a small parkland maintained by the Framingham Garden Club.  We checked it out, and  there  doesn't seem to be very much there, but I did note 2 rock piles associated with stone rows and a third unassociated stone row at the approximate locations on the map denoted by "rp" and "sr" respectively.  There was no signage in the park except for a few Garden Club signs and memorials, and the stone monuments were rather far from the  "improved" grassy area of the park -- I have no idea what the  GoogleMaps citation was referencing.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Johannes (Jannie) Loubser - talk on Georgia Rock Art

Norman Muller writes:
A fascinating, well organized, and finely illustrated talk on rock art in Georgia and neighboring states by Johannes (Jannie) Loubser.

Update: ... adding:
This National Forest handout is well researched and clearly presented, and is based on research conducted by Jannie Loubser.

Friday, April 23, 2021


 By Norman Muller:

I agree with your essay on openness versus secrecy regarding rock pile sites, which you posted on your blog on April 13.  While I am reluctant to publish the exact location of certain sites, particularly those that are fragile and vulnerable to damage, I believe that we can best preserve rock pile sites by describing them and their connection to the past – our past -- and through education, since keeping everything quiet or secret does nothing except to perpetuate ignorance.

And with education, we might well start with the historical commissions in the Northeastern states, some of which are either reluctant to accept the fact that there are Native American rock pile sites in our midst, or openly hostile even to their existence, such as the view of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which continues to claim they are simply colonial in age.  Such resistance to reality does not promote the preservation of rock pile sites, but rather subverts it through ignorance, eventually leading to their damage and destruction. 

 I have assumed that articles written by NEARA members about rock pile sites are generally ignored by the archaeological community.  It might be a good move for NEARA to make it a habit to send new copies of their journal to each of the state archaeologists in the Northeast.  And also publicize any initiative that promotes the dating of rock pile sites.  This wouldn’t hurt and may eventually stimulate a change in thinking.

 If education is the key to preservation, then evidence of the age of these rock pile sites can only help make the task easier, since archaeologists usually rely on the finds of pottery and projectile point shapes and styles to establish the age of a site.  Without some solid data as to the age of rock piles sites, we will always be on the defensive when trying to promote the idea that certain rock piles are ancient and should be preserved.

 It was this dilemma that confronted me when I began to contemplate the Oley Hills site in Pennsylvania upon my retirement in 2017.  I had done a considerable amount of research on the site, beginning in 1997, but after more than twenty years of looking and thinking about this site, I still had no idea how old the impressive stone features on this remarkable site were. 

 Then I came across some articles on OSL (optically stimulated luminescence) dating of stone used in the construction of ancient buildings online, many written by Ioannis Liritzis, a Greek scientist based on the island of Rhodes.  He had applied the technique to confirm the known dates of some ancient buildings and temples in Greece and Egypt.  When I asked him whether any scientists here in the U.S. practiced this dating technique, he mentioned Jim Feathers at the University of Washington.  In 2018 two fist-sized stone samples were taken from the Terrace at the Oley site and sent to Feathers for analysis.   In 2019 we received the verdict:  the site was nearly 2500 years old.    

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

"Cairns" in Prince Edward County, Ontario

 Read Ken D writes:

Hi, I thought you might be interested in my find at the back of my property in Prince Edward County - Ameliasburg.  To the east of us is a Mohawk Indian reserve so I instinctively thought the 8 cairns on my property were burial sites. I found your blog 'Reflections' interesting indeed.  

Ken indicates that he is willing to show them to someone interested. Contact this blog for email introductions.