Saturday, July 31, 2010

Excerpt from Charles Mann' s 1491

 The 1987 edition of American History: A Survey, a standard high school textbook by three well-known historians, summed up Indian history thusly: “For thousands of centuries—centuries in which human races were evolving, forming communities, and building the beginnings of national civilizations in Africa, Asia, and Europe—the continents we know as the Americas stood empty of mankind and itsworks.” The story of Europeans in the NewWorld, the book informed students, “is the story of the creation of a civilization where none existed.”

Meanwhile, new disciplines and new technologies were creating new ways to examine the past. Demography, climatology, epidemiology, economics, botany, and palynology (pollen analysis); molecular and evolutionary biology; carbon-14 dating, ice-core sampling, satellite photography, and soil assays; genetic microsatellite analysis and virtual 3-D fly-throughs—a torrent of novel perspectives and techniques cascaded into use. And when these were employed, the idea that the only human occupants of one-third of the earth’s surface had changed little for thousands of years began to seem implausible. To be sure, some researchers have vigorously attacked the new findings as wild exaggerations. (“We have simply replaced the old myth [of untouched wilderness] with a new one,” scoffed geographer Thomas Vale, “the myth of the humanized landscape.”) But after several decades of discovery and debate, a new picture of the Americas and their original inhabitants is emerging.

Advertisements still celebrate nomadic, ecologically pure Indians on horseback chasing bison in the Great Plains of North America, but at the time of Columbus the great majority of Native Americans could be found south of the Río Grande. They were not nomadic, but built up and lived in some of the world’s biggest and most opulent cities. Far from being dependent on big-game hunting, most Indians lived on farms. Others subsisted on fish and shellfish. As for the horses, they were from Europe; except for llamas in the Andes, the Western Hemisphere had no beasts of burden. In other words, the Americas were immeasurably busier, more diverse, and more populous than researchers had previously imagined.

And older, too.

Excerpt from Charles Mann' s 1491

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Money Hole Mountain Stone Wall - NY

Rob Buchanan writes:

As I mentioned I had come across an interesting stone wall on Moneyhole Mountain. Below is a description of the wall and some other stone structures near it.

The stone wall is situated on the NW edge of a long ridge which runs in a south westerly direction from the top of the Moneyhole Mountain.

The wall itself is less than 1 m high and primarily constructed of rectangular slabs. The slabs are tilted and stacked to form many holes, gaps and niches.

The NE part of the wall runs through open forest for about a 100 m before entering thicker vegetation. The wall then turns uphill to the east.

All along the ridge and wall there are views to the W and NW of the Mount Beacon ridge and Storm King across the Hudson.

Where the wall's eastern arm ends there is a large turtle effigy mound and about 60 m to the S of that there is a propped boulder cluster.

The propped boulder cluster consists of three boulders leaning into each other. There is an opening which passes in a N - S direction under the boulders. There is also E - W opening between them.

On the ridge above the stone wall there are two large light colored boulders.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Flashback to Carlisle

Perhaps you have not heard some of this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More on Serpentine Walls

Rob Buchanan writes:

Your post about the Dick's Rdge wall reminded me of the following site, Fort Mountain which is also in NW Georgia. Below is a link to an extensive web article describing it.

Here's another study of a serpentine wall in the South. This site is in Alabama.,+1CA157,+...-a0200132376

I have come across a similar structure on Moneyhole Mountain in Putnam County.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dick's Ridge Serpentine Wall

Have we seen this?

Cabell cairns pique archaeologist's interest. By Rick Steelhammer, The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shortly after a surveyor marked off the boundaries of his newly purchased farm in southern Cabell County two years ago, the landowner hiked its perimeter. Halfway up a steep hillside behind his home, he noticed a series of rock piles on a bench of flat land and walked over to investigate. [Click here for entire article]

The people of the stone

Check it out.


downhill from Ash Str. Hopkinton. Behind the Church School

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Very light posting for a few weeks

Two reasons for not posting go beyond my usual laziness: I have had exceedingly poor luck finding new rock pile sites (maybe the heavy leaf coverage prevents spotting from the car or in the distance) and I am going on vacation for a couple of weeks starting next weekend. Last weekend I found a total of one split-wedged rock, which I will show (with fanfare) later.

Following along with the idea of "bringing home the bacon" or "bringing home the rock pile bacon" [like Michael Cole's "bringing home the epigraphic bacon"], I sometimes think about it as if we had to eat what I bring home. A larger stone mound...big game. A split-wedged rock...maybe a chipmunk. Sure, we'll eat. But not well.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Evidence of Native Americans in Many Woodland Locations"

Surfing the web. More "cairn" and "Native American" here.

Some photos of rock and hikes

This blog includes several hikes in southern New England with some nice photos of rocks and, at Parker Woodland, a group of rock piles. If you read that section you will find that the author accepts and repeats the possibility that Native Americans built the cairns. I take it, then, that they heard about this or found it online. I hope this means the popular myth has changed about rock piles.

Scandinavian runes etc

If the NEARA folks can spend so much time on European archeology, so can this blog occasionally (say on a Friday afternoon). Click here.

The Cairns of Gold Basin

"mysterious" cairns in Arizona (here)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More quartz arrowheads from Lakeville MA

Chris Pittman is having a good summer, more Dalton-like arrowheads:
[Here were some PWAX found for comparison; and more generally here]

Indian Hill - Middleboro, MA

Chris Pittman writes:
"Indian Hill" in Middleboro is topped with a large granite boulder with an Indian petroglyph of a hand and wrist (as well as other modern graffiti).The boulder is on private property, in a fenced-in backyard. On one side of the hill is a very short stretch of stone wall in an area that has been disturbed for power line construction (I didn't get a picture of the whole wall). One end of the wall is a boulder that has two rocks placed on top, one of the rocks is notched and I believe was chipped this way for some reason (clearly these rocks have not been there for all that long).Near this spot, on the ground, are two rocks with a small space between them, and one of the rocks looks like a bird.
It would be easier for me to dismiss this resemblance as a coincidence if it were not for the nearby areas of Indian rock art including Hand Rock on that same hill. This spot is near the "Wading Place" where an Indian trail forded the Nemasket.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Small site by a pond in Littleton, MA

Walking by a pond in Littleton with FFC:Came across a small site with a few structure:The upper rock of this rock-on-rock was boat-rudder shaped:A few steps away was this:It could be part of a fire circle or a small "seat" that has been blocked after use. When I go walking with FFC he always spots things I miss. Some of this is because he is very sharp eyed. It is also because I don't look as hard knowing I have him along. Here is a gap pile down at the water's edge:

Marker Piles or Remnants of Terracing?

Took a quick look at a little stretch of woods along Iron Mine Brook in Lincoln, MA. There were some triangular rock piles in there on the slope, lying in lines and evenly spaced. There was also some terracing of the same slope and this led to the thought that perhaps these rock piles were just manifestations of an orchard or other agrarian use. The piles followed the same lines as the terraces. Of course rock piles under fruit trees is not a smart idea, as it would tend to bruise any fruit that falls from the tree. But it is bothersome that there is a spectrum from the clearly ceremonial to the clearly agrarians. This site was just shy of that. I deleted the pictures by mistake - no loss, the piles were low to the ground and as beaten down almost as piles can get. But it is disturbing to see how easy it might be to be mistaken.

Quartz Arrowheads from Lakeville, MA

Chris Pittman has been having some luck. He found these on the same day:The triangular one is probably a "Squibnocket Triangle" (or possibly a Hardaway Dalton) and the longer one is a possible Stark Point.

Here is the triangle in place in the dirt, as it was first seen:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bad Pass Trail Cairns

Did Native Americans mark trails with cairns? Apparently they did [Click here]. Looking at the picture I want to say: "not sure those are marking a trail". You decide.

This is in the area known for tipi rings and medicine wheels.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Native Stonework Post

New Friends of Falls Post
(a private blog where I reveal way too much information)

If you find you have sometime, and have already been to the village at the Pequot Museum, you might want to see what one really looked like...

New rock pile built on older one

Possible Snake Effigy

I saw a "structure" something like this:
This was in an area with very few rocks poking about the surface so I thought perhaps it was deliberate. Here is a video:

This is in Sterling, between Justice Hill Rd and Upper North Run just west of the power lines.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wife with rock pile

Northern Slopes of Wildcat Hill - part 3: last look

Continuing from here, I cannot resist posting a few more pics:
Look at the "V" (or triangular) shapes:See the triangle shape?Does it not seem some piles here are older than others?

One last panorama:

Northern slopes of Wildcat Hill - Part 2

Continuing from here, this part seemed a bit older, certainly a bit different from the rest of the hill. Starting with a low pile, larger than what I saw earlier:Above it, a degenerate pile and an outcrop with traces of structure on it:[That first pile shown is down hill from here at the edge of the wet.]

The outcrop looked down over a shallow semi-circular dell with wetland at the bottom. At the edge of the wetland: a pair of larger piles, broken down.And guess what? One of them had a hollow:The hollow, or "dimple" is not very visible in the picture, just left of center on the near pile.
I would like to understand some connection between these two things: marker piles and piles with hollows. These are things I see, and see frequently. I do not see them together but I see them, so to speak, in close proximity. I have talked about "ski jump" and the thought that they might for a "missing link" (see here) between these different kinds of sites. Here at Wildcat Hill, the relationship is more one of direct proximity: 50 yards away are marker pile sites in more than one direction. It could be the same culture doing different things but I get a sense of these piles with hollows being older and more broken down. Time will tell if there is any reality to these observations.

Northern slopes of Wildcat Hill, Ashland MA

The other day I showed a map of Wildcat Hill. The whole northern side has one cluster of rock piles after another, each one centered on a little knoll. There are plenty of little knolls in there and, for the most part, each one has its own rock pile site. I think these are marker pile sites organized radially around the local high points. I have been to Wildcat Hill before and there are other interesting rock pile sites near the main entrance - it is Sudbury Valley Trustees land called "Cowassock Woods" (trail map pdf here) but this time we went in a little side entrance directly into the part of the hill I highlighted on the map. Step into this area and you will start seeing rock piles.

You walk along and see many scenes like this (I'll show a few example as we go. The 19 pile example was from here)
Or:Some of the piles are nicer than others:In one place it seemed many of the piles had one larger flat slab leaning up against them. You can see one such in the background:Up close:and:and:and:These propped-slab piles were concentrated, or at least caught my attention, on one part of the hillside.

Pippsissewa starting to flower now:I took lots of pictures. Here was something unusual: a stone wall, interrupted with a circle (fire pit). The wall opens up like a funnel on two sides of the circle, kind of "druidic" (means it seems a bit "New Age" to me but perhaps not, not here in this place of many ceremonies).

Here was a place where the piles were a bit different, made from more and smaller rocks:Not to keep showing the same things, here is what might be a deliberate "gap" pile:
And a nice bit of subtle structure:
One last look at your typical "marker" pile:Note the typical "V" shape (more examples here). Note the rock at the point of the "V".

The whole hillside gives the impression of having been added to a bit at a time over a long period. I found one part that seemed quite different and, perhaps a bit older. I'll post that separately.