Friday, December 29, 2006

A large U-shaped structure from Snake Hill, Ayer

I published a picture of this U-shaped structure in a gully on Snake Hill years ago on the NEARA web page. Back then I thought all "U"s were equivalent. But today I see no similarity between this and the kind of small U-shaped structure which I have come to think of as being a "seat" where someone could sit and watch. Wait, here is what I mean, this picture is from the same general area of Ayer:
That is big enough for one person to sit.

But the larger structure above is probably not a seat at all. Could it be the remains of a dwelling?

1 comment :

JimP said...

If the larger U-shaped structure is open to the west, there is a good chance it was used to build the fire at a purification (sweat lodge) ritual. The sweat lodge would've been built with the opening facing east and toward the fire. It is a symbolic lodge/fire, earth/heaven, male/female duality. The U-shaped stone structure continues to this day to be the traditional fire pit for such rituals.

So the next time you see one of these large U-shaped structures, have a look directly to the west for a small ground pile -- likely hard to find and mostly buried -- which would've been the heated rocks in a pit inside the sweat lodge.

I have also read that U-shaped stone structures are built for sacred open fires at traditional wedding ceremonies in some Eastern Woodlands cultures. So even if there is no evidence of a purification ritual, the structure might still have been used as a fire pit.