Thursday, May 01, 2008

A quick summary of Fred Meli's talk at the NEARA Spring 2008 Conference

The talk was entitled "Nispachuck Hill and Swamp: A Battlefield Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow". Fred began by Introducing his wife, a Narragansett Indian, and his team. He showed a first picture of a rock pile and it was a stunning pile with a head and symmetry.

Fred went on to describe how many of the piles had a single large piece of quartz in the middle, and that some were elongated with tail-like extensions (I am paraphrashing). The team surveyed an area of 186,000 square feet and found 240 rock piles equally distributed throughout the area (at least judging from their map which was done with GPS positions for the pile locations). On average there were 75+ component rocks per pile. They metal detected and found no metal.

They applied a cluster analysis technique to evaluate piles by size, orientation, unusual rocks, etc, and on that basis decided to dig in certain spots. What they found excavating around rock piles was surprising, including large amounts of amethyst, some greenstone, and some soapstone effigy pendants. They also found redware and large amounts of phosphorus. They found seashells, trade beads, and marbles. They found metates ("nutting stones") and a Merrimack point.

In Summary, Dr. Meli said the site set a precedent and demonstrated that these rock pile sites are imporant. He also mentioned that there was no Native American involvement in his dig. The Seaconke Wampanoag who, earlier, had been an important part of the Nipsachuck story are apparently out of the picture now.


archaeologist said...

A couple of corrections;
The stone tools we found were a Laurentain Slate Blade and a Lamoka and Stark Nevell point.
There was only one Steatite female pendant and two nutting and two grinding stones. The large stone axe was found on the ground near a mound and the amethyst was excavated close to a cluster of mounds.

pwax said...

Unfortunately it was not clear how close to the rock piles were the trenches that were dug, nor how deep the rock piles were buried in the soil.

archaeologist said...

The excavations were done as close to the mounds as was possible without causing an disruption and/or weaking the integrity of the mounds. As I explained on Saturday night, we dug a maximun of 60 centimeters, and in one case we dug down 9o centimeters. I hope this helps. Doc.