Monday, January 31, 2011

YouTube videos

(scraping the internet bucket)
rock pile: click here.

stone head click here [reminds me of the ones we were seeing a couple of years ago showing up in various places in New England] click here.


Entrance of a "Leatherman Cave" near Prospect Mtn. in Litchfield County CT. The Leatherman in later years did not regularly visit this cave, my sister explains, but in the early days a photo was taken of him here. The Leatherman used rockshelter sites about a days walk from each other as he walked from the Hudson River to the Connecticut River...

Friday, January 28, 2011

One Way Split Wedged Boulders Happen

Ted Hendrickson writes:
We were walking in the Groton, CT woods last month and came upon a interesting phenomenon. I saw a large erratic that had a split, so went to investigate for any wedged rocks. I was surprised to capture this natural process.
A small sapling had started growing in a crack on the right boulder, very near the split. The root system had recently gotten big enough to split away a chunk of rock into the opening, probably with the help of the recent freezing temperatures. The rock's natural faults are vertical, a you can see.From above you can see the root mat that forced the opening and allowed the water penetration and freeze expansion to take place.
This certainly does not explain many other examples that clearly look intentional, but it was interesting to see this very clear evidence of a natural mechanism at work.

Stone Rows in CT Record Snow

Morning sun and a record amount of snow on the ground...

Boulders along side of the row... looks like this under the snow.

Mound works in Syria

Dave C writes: "Tim,
I ran across this complex of mound works in Syria while Google Earthing. Thought you might be interested."

I find it most interesting, looking down on another Ancient Sacred Landscape being covered over by the modern cultural landscape. I see no turtles, but as I widen the view, I see smudges that were also more mounds, more pieces of the picture brushed away, and wonder what was there where the houses are, much like I do in my own neighborhood...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"For a few weeks until July 24, 2010, the poll question on RockArtBlog was Do You Believe That Secrecy Protects Rock Art Sites, Or Is The Broadest Transparency And Education Possible More Effective? The answer choices are listed below along with their votes.

Open and effective education and site stewardship provide the best protection. 4 votes, 44.44%

Plant poison ivy and fertilize regularly. 3 votes, 33.33%
Controlled access limited to acknowledged researchers and scholars. 1 vote, 11.11%
Keep it totally secret - do not let anyone (including vandals) know where it is. 1 vote, 11.11%..."
Peter Faris, RockArtBlog

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More snow....more no rock piles

I cannot figure out what drives readership up and down here. I think it is mostly what traffic Google sends my way and think it might be a function of how much new material gets posted here. But that cannot be it. For some reason I have lots of readers at the moment (based on the SiteMeter logs accessible at the bottom of the page) but not much has gotten posted.

Lost my old computer with lots of unpublished photos, so that is out. Also this is a good time for me to be snowed in, because the new job is getting a lot of mind share.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tales of the Colorado pioneers

by theseventhgeneration
Tales of the Colorado pioneers, By Alice Polk Hill (1884). The author writes, in the Preface, "I solemnly avow that the tales herein related are - 'told as they were told to me!' If I have succeeded in reviving some pleasant recollection for the 'old timer,' beguiling the weary traveler or interesting the general reader, my aspirations have, in a measure, been reached. If I have betrayed confidence or told anything that I ought not to have told - I will graciously accept all apologies ."

Starting half way down page 276:
"The greatest evidence of the former Indian occupants was in the lower part of the country, through which the deer in great numbers pass every spring and fall. There was a V-shaped fence of stone, each arm of the V being a stone fence fully fifteen miles long; the V opening towards the mountains from which the deer came, and the point of the V, instead of being closed, was open for the deer to pass, and in cunningly dug holes would be seated the Indians to kill them. The fence, which had been built entirely by the squaws, was to turn the deer all to this one point, and though it was merely a succession of stone piles, anything that has the appearance of having been made by man is as effectual a barrier to deer as the tallest fence.

Another cunning device of the Indians is seen wherever there are rocks; when they see a rock about the size of a man's body, they place another about the size of a man's head on top. It is done to accustom the deer to such objects, so that an Indian sitting behind a stone with his head in full view, is not likely to frighten them."

The story immediately following (about a "bear") is funny, but not quite as riveting as the Poplar Science article about humans with tails!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More web surfing: Georgia Outdoor News members discuss rock piles

A long comment thread with some photos, this is worth a read.

searching the web so you don't have to

This is interesting...weird mounds near Mt Shasta [click here] from author Brad Olsen.

Susan Creek Indian Mounds

Did you ever hear of these? They are in Oregon. I was reading this and then searched on "Susan Creek Indian Mounds" and found a photo here and here.

Cochegan Rock video

"Rock man?"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Popular Science

by theseventhgeneration
One hundred twenty years ago they were just as interested in glacial erratics as we are today.

The first is Popular Science Monthly, Volume 37. The article, entitled "Evidences of Glacial Action in Southeastern Connecticut" By Hon David A. Wells, starts on page 196.

The second article is Popular Science, January, 1892. The article, "Remarkable Bowlders" by David A. Wells is on page 340.

Both articles contain excellent photos.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snow no rock piles

You know the drill. With the heavy snowfall it will be several weeks before rocks start to poke through. Until then, we'll have to read archives.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fifth birthday of this blog

I never realized, when I started this, that there would be such a continuous stream of information about rock piles. Here's to the new year and hoping its as revealing as the last.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Geopsych - Nature Photos from Geophile

Not rock pile related but some beautiful photos here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Classic Rock Pile with hollow

This is across Burroughs Rd from the northernmost entrance to Wolf Swap cons. land in Boxborough. You cannot miss it, but I almost did and came up from a different direction, spotting this pile for the first time, though I visited and blogged about the site previously (click here). Seeing this new pile clarifies the situation. Although the main pile I found was so smeared out no conclusions were possible, this time with the nice example above it became clear these are part of a tradition I have been calling the "Wachusett Tradition". There were the two mounds: the one above (here is another view)
and the one I saw before:There were also several smaller rock piles nearby. I cannot tell if these are from the same time period or if perhaps they were added by people who came later and felt the place was special. For one, these small piles lay along a curve that joined the two larger mounds:
How about these outliers:These are more or less traditional, rectangular marker piles. They seem less damaged, but who knows? So, nothing too intelligent to say about this site. I was accosted by the landowner (he was not sure which 3 acres he owned, and was wondering about the missing man).

Actually I want to make one (hopefully slightly intelligent) observation: this site is about 50 yards south of Rt 111, also called "Mass Ave" in some places, and a very old trail indeed. This supports my sense that these large mound sites are near old trails, suggesting there is a basis for thinking sites are not so often out in the middle of nowhere - if one includes the old trails as well as the modern roads.

Chumash Rock Pile

"The Sacredness of the land lies in the minds of its people.
 This land is dedicated to the Spirit and memory
 of the ancestors and their children."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Libbey Property - Westboro MA

This looked like a good prospect for exploration, except that Northborough (or Northboro) is in the category of "usually disappoints". This was no exception: the part of the hill I explored had very little to see in the way of rock piles. There was one remnant pile, with a nice prospect to the west:And there actually was a bit of a site in a saddle north of the main summit. The path goes right through these, almost invisible, piles (there are 3 or 4 in the picture):
I guess I should not call this a disappointment. In any case I did not explore down around the wetlands or on all parts of the hill - so it might be worth a second look.

Back to the Triple

Rob Buchanan writes:
To escape a case of creeping cabin fever and the excesses of the holiday season I decided to head out into the cold rain on Sunday morning.

I planned to take some winter images of a couple of the more spectacular stone structures in the Wiccopee area on Putnam County NY.

I had been to the area many times and had shown Norman Muller some of the sites.

Norman recorded his observations here:

The central feature is a huge boulder that has been split in two directions. The main split is in an E - W direction. There is a smaller secondary split in a N- S direction. At the E end of the E-W split there is a rectangular platform which is 3 - 4' high at its highest.

Looking generally N. Showing platform.

Looking generally W. Showing platform at the E end of the E-W split.

The platform forms the E end of stones that fill the entire E - W split. This remarkable stone fill is more evident when looking into the W end of the split.

There are many other features near The Triple. Some are described in Norman's web article. Here are some more.

A U-Shaped structure on the flat hill top to the E of The Triple.

A split boulder about 20yds E of the Triple. The boulder also has two splits (E-W & N-S) and both are filled.

A split filled boulder about 10 yds SE of The Triple.

On my way back I came across another interesting looking boulder but didn't have the time to do more than take a quick picture.

A small marker pile site

Here is the site I was examining when I located the missing person - so I might as well name the site after this significant event. So let's call this the Bykhovsky site at the western edge of Old Harvard Rd between Burroughs and Pierce.

I had been here before but wanted to remind myself of the layout. Here it is approximately:
I drew the layout in the snow to remember it:Here is one representative pile:You can see the road behind.

RIP Mr. Bykhovsy. The place was already sad when he died here. It makes me think how much rock pile sites, in general, involve the passage of time and death.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Standing Stones in PA

Norman Muller writes:
I found the following reference while searching
Google Books the other day: Henry Mercer, “An Exploration of Durham Cave, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1893.” On page 155: “while at a point some distance up the river and close to the present Morgantown Road, Mr. Laubach remembers having seen from twelve to fifteen standing stones, the survivors of a group of about twenty-five formerly observed by Mr. Waters, all of which save one about 3 feet high, now remaining as a boundary mark by the Morgantown roadside and seen by him in 1893…

“The monoliths must have been carried to the spot by Indians since the rock in situ is limestone, and the Potsdam sandstone of which they consisted does not occur within two miles of the place.” (Publications of the University of Pennsylvania series in Philology Literature and Archaeology, Vol. VI, Researches upon the Antiquity of Man in the Delaware Valley and the Eastern United States, by Henry Mercer). Laubach saw the standing stones in 1855, and Waters saw them in 1853-55.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Finding missing persons in the woods

I read reports of missing people in the woods with some interest because these are my woods. One time a person went missing in Leominster State Forest and I read that it was in a part of the woods I knew well. I thought: "...yeah it would be easy to get lost in there...I bet he is down in there near...". Another time I read about a body found by a jogger along a trail in Callahan State Forest and it was a trail I had just been on a few weeks earlier. And in these cases I think: I could find a body, why wasn't it me that found the body? After all I get out into some obscure corners of the woods that are rarely seen by anyone. I have joked about finding bodies in the woods. This morning I read (from the Lowell Sun):

"BOXBORO -- Boxboro police are asking for the public's help finding a 49-year-old man who has been missing since Friday afternoon.

Police have been searching for Konstantin Bykhovsky since Friday about 4:30 p.m., when he was last seen in the area of Burroughs Road at Chester Road.

Bykhovsky left his wallet and cell phone at home, and police say he suffers from a medical condition that may have left him in an altered mental state.

"He may appear confused or frightened," Sgt. Warren O'Brien said in a prepared statement.

Bykhovsky is described as a white male, about 5'8, 140 to 150 pounds, with balding, black hair and a thin build. He was last seen wearing a blue Patagonia jacket, dark-colored sweatpants, white socks and dark sneakers. He was also wearing a blue knit cap with a red stripe.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Boxboro Police immediately 978-263-2628."

So perhaps it was with this in mind that I decided to go revisit a site I knew in Boxborough, near Wolf Swamp. And as I walked along I kept my eyes open for a blue jacket. At one point a homeowner spotted me in the woods and came out to ask what I was doing - wondering if it was related to the missing man. I explained I was taking pictures of rock piles and showed him the ceremonial site that is on or next to his property. Some more of my exploration plan took me near houses and I decided to skip it with so many people keeping an eye on the woods.

So I drove down the road and stopped at a different entrance to Wolf Swamp on Old Harvard Rd. and walked back up the road a bit. I wanted to revisit another small site there before cutting down into the woods. A woman jogged by, as I am only a few feet from the road and asked: "Is the search still going on?". I said I was not searching for the missing man but taking pictures of rock piles. So that whole part of Boxborough is in an uproar about the missing person.

So I finish looking at the rock piles, reminding myself about the site layout, and then started cutting through the woods. And there is a blue jacket, scarf, gloves, and a hat in a tidy little pile on the snow. Was it a Patagonia jacket? Unsure if I should, I moved the scarf and hat to see that...sure enough...there is a Patagonia label. So I go back to the road (it is only about 50 feet) thinking I should probably call the police. The woman jogger is now coming back in the other direction and I say to her: "well you know...I actually just found a clue". She says I should call the Boxborough police; which I did, giving them my name and cellphone number. They dispatch someone.

A few minutes later a policeman arrives and I point out the blue jacket - which can be seen from the road. We chat and I say: "this locates him over here". Apparently they had been searching in another part of Boxborough. The policeman agrees and heads into the woods to look around more as I head back to my car. I turn around, drive back past the spot and now the policeman is back on the road. He motions to me, I roll down the window and he tells me the missing man is there and is "deceased" and asks me to pull over so they can ask me a few other questions. Another policemen - the "chief" arrives and I tell them I have been out walking and taking pictures for a couple of hours and explain how I came back up the road, took some pictures of rocks pile (did they want me to show them the piles? no...ok) and was just cutting through when I found the coat.

I guess they accepted my explanation because when I asked if it was morbid to want to see the body they discouraged me saying that this would now be treated as a crime scene. I made sure they had my contact information and they thanked me and I drove off.

One of the things you are kind of hoping to see until it actually happens. I am glad I did not spot the body, but at the same time I am kicking myself for missing it since it was no more than 20 feet from where I found the pile of clothes. A sad sort of merit badge: find body in woods....check.

Footprints: As soon as I stepped into the woods this morning I saw tracks. I was surprised there were any in the first patch of woods and then remembered the missing person and thought they could have been theirs. But, continuing, everywhere I went in the woods there were pretty fresh footprints in the snow and I realized belatedly that these must have been from the searchers. The searchers had been everywhere that I went. So how come they missed that one spot only ~50 feet from Old Harvard Rd?

You can make out the rock piles (they are smeared) in the foreground at the end of this video from FOX News:

Update (from WickedLocal the next day):

"Searchers used pattern and grid searches, focusing on areas where Bykhovsky often walked.

Sunday morning, a passerby spotted Bykhovsky's blue jacket off of Old Harvard Road. The jacket had been removed, and searchers soon found Bykhovsky's body with no shoes. Ryder explained that people suffering from hypothermia often feel sudden hot flashes and remove their clothes."

You can make out the rock piles (they are smeared) in the foreground at the end of this video from FOX News: [click here]

Certain peculiar earthworks near Andover, Massachusetts, Volumes 4-6 By Warren King Moorehead

by theseventhgeneration
"Certain peculiar earthworks near Andover, Massachusetts, Volumes 4-6", by Warren King Moorehead, is a 1908 bulletin. In addition to Bulletin V, this writing contains, in Bulletin IV, Part II on Fort Ancient in Ohio.

First, page 76 documents stones from Fort Ancient having been hauled away by farmers:
Second, page 152 contains the author's opinion on the effort it took to include stone in the construction of Fort Ancient.
Third, page 215 documents the early method of property boundary marking as blazing trees first, then erecting a stone wall.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

More Nevada Archeology

There is little to blog about here so I might tell you a little about Nevada.

Southern Nevada was a lake during the last ice age and today the old lake bottom is buried around the edges of the valleys by hundreds of feet of alluvial out-wash from the mountains. You can see that the desert floor rises gradually from the lowest flat point in the middle to where the out-wash emanates from the mountains. There is no terracing to indicate lake depth variations over time.If you wanted you study archeology of the lake shore you would have to dig deep into the alluvial soil. I guess that is what they are doing at Calico in CA. But that archeology would be truly ancient.

Instead I found a very minor artifact on the surface near the edges:This is made of quartz, about 5 inches long, has placement for hafting which is easier to see on the back at the top:
You can see that, although crude, there is shaping of the item and a semblance of alternating flaking around the edges:If I saw this in Concord, I would think it was a hafted digging tool and there is no reason to think it is particularly old, except by comparison with that butterscotch-colored retouched flake. That was "new"; this is probably a bit older but still a lot more recent than the glacier.

Nevada....not without its own beauty:

Stone walls passing over outcrops

Sometimes you wonder about why a stone wall does what it does when it passes over an outcrop. Sometimes the wall is interrupted by the outcrop, sometimes it seems to compulsively climb the outcrop and continue over and back down the side of it. And sometimes rather than wall there are a few isolated rock piles. I wonder if there might have been a law requiring a wall to be continuous in order to achieve proper status as a property boundary - so a compulsive climbing and crossing of the outcrop would re-enforce the legal status of the wall in its claiming of an enclosed piece of land. Sometimes the wall becomes a sequence of rock piles which, if not for the wall on either side of the outcrop, would seem to be a bit ceremonial.

For example (south side of Rocky Hill Rd) here are three such rock piles in a row:
In the fog, they have a 'feel' to them but maybe they are simply one form of compulsive outcrop crossing. That last one is a nice little pile, and certainly not built in the easiest way, if its only purpose was a legal requirement: