Thursday, June 28, 2007

More nice piles

Just walking through the woods looking for rock piles. You see one like this and think: OK here's the good stuff.


The Lizard said...

I'm jealous of your surroundings.


Piles of rocks are thick on the ground in your neck of the woods.

I'm curious what your theories are about the origins and age of these rock piles. Do you think they are deeply ancient (yes, I mean pre-Clovis!), or pioneer/civil war vintage?

In my admittedly limited exposure to native indian lore, I do not recall seeing any native group laying claim to rock construction that wasn't already attributed to them by academic ethnologists/archaeologists.

pwax said...

As far as I observe the vast majority of rock piles (at least the ones now visible) are recent. [I can see how quickly piles are destroyed by random phenomena and so when I see a whole collection of well formed piles I am confident they never were subjected to extended tree falling damage.]

Personally, I believe a lot if not most rock piles were created during the historic contact period. Maybe it is something like the "Ghost Dance" which was begun as a reaction to the European takeover. I don't know how else to explain this phenomenon of careful rock pile building in out of the way places - following similar building principles and situation principles - all up and down the Eastern seaboard.

pwax said...

I should also add that you should not be "jealous of your surroundings". I spend every weekend hunting rock piles and I have gotten good at it. Without knowing any more about it, I assume there are just as many to be found where you are. You just have not spent as long going out to look, or getting used to knowing where to look. Follow some brooks up stream into the woods, try doing it systematically, keep a close lookout at the ground to either side of the stream (back 30 yards or so) and if you still do not find anything it would be a surprise.

The Lizard said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

I'll try just that.

Anonymous said...

I have seen quite a number of cairns and walls in northwest Georgia that have been dated to around 1000 B.P., and they were in relatively good condition, similar in appearance to what we find in the Northeast. And the Oley Hills site in PA was tentatively dated to around 1100 B.P. Again, the stonework is in good condition. I mention this only to point out that it is very difficult to judge the age of cairns of any type.


pwax said...

Dating and the chronology of events is the main question of the subject. The answer is surely not simple.

It is possible that near here in Middlesex County MA there has been a datable sequence of forestations. Don't you think a large tree blowdown would take out a pile at Oley Hills? I just don't see how somewhat delicate piles could survive a direct hit from a large tree falling on them. How long since there were really big trees at Oley Hills?