Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Look At A RI Petroglyph

By JimP

The petroglyph below was meticulously pecked into a boulder that sits on the side of a hill that today overlooks a huge stand of rhododendron. The owners of the property know, however, that the rhododendron stand was once a vast cedar swamp.

The boulder is within 10 minutes walking distance of the most breath-taking and uniquely beautiful natural landscapes in all of Rhode Island. Within 40 minutes walking distance is -- by far -- the most multitudinous area of stone walls and stone piles that I have seen in all of New England.

In the pecked channels of the petroglyph appears to be iron-oxide staining. Small pieces of it seem to be so well-preserved that it still looks red in color.

One particular image on this boulder caught my eye -- it is what some would call the infinity symbol, or the sideways figure eight. It can be seen on the right side of the photograph. Some have interpreted it as a representation of a celestial event -- perhaps a solar eclipse. But to me, it has an entirely different meaning.

Today, the sideways figure eight is a symbol of the Métis -- a recognized Aboriginal peoples from Canada. That Nation consists of the descendants of Cree, Ojibway, and Saulteaux women who married French, Scottish, or Irish settlers. The significance of their symbol lies in that heritage.

The circle has long been a sacred symbol to many indigenous cultures around the world. Not only do New England tribes, like the Wampanoag, believe it represents the, "circle of life," but it also represents the circle of family and kinship -- the circle of blood.

The Métis Nation are quite similar. The Métis, "sideways figure eight," is representative of two circles coming together -- the joining together of the circles of family, kinship, and blood. It is a symbol of their mixed blood heritage.

So, to me, it is no surprise to find this petroglyph on land close to where Narragansett territory once met with Niantic territory. What we could very well be seeing is a symbol of the coming together of two tribes -- two circles of people -- etched into stone for time immemorial.


pwax said...

By "most multitudinous area of stone walls and stone piles" do you mean Parker Woodland?

JimP said...

No. Although Parker Woodland comes in a close second for quantity -- and definitely has the most quality constructions -- the place I'm talking about is much further south. The rock piles are not as well-constructed but there is far more of them and in a much denser concentration.

Geophile said...

Jim P.--this is a great picture You should post it on the Megalithic Portal, that's http://www.megalithic.co.uk
They are interested in this kind of thing and have a special section of the gallery for rock art. I would love to see more American rock art show up there.

Have any of the Susquehanna petroglyphs been posted here? Or is that too far from rock piles?

JimP said...

I wouldn't be surprised if that petroglyph is already pictured on that site somewhere -- trouble is, I can't seem to find a search function to find out.

pwax said...

Might as well go for Pennsylvania petroglphs while we are at it. How about 80% rock piles and 20% everything else?