Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Livermore Land in Boxborough

My out-of-date topo map indicates that this hill used to be an orchard. There are various and sundry rock piles at the foot of the hill by the Beaver Brook Meadow, but up on the brow of the hill there are three large stone mounds, and about 4 or more smaller piles that are rectangular and low to the ground - about 8 feet across. The large mounds look like they contain some field clearing debris but there disposition, at the edge of the outlook to the south, is a classic location for late Wachusett Tradition burial mounds. Certainly there is nothing too compelling about these mounds - other than there size and co-location. But some of the smaller ones look clearly ceremonial and similar to, for example, the ones from Dakins Brook in Concord. They are too well defined, and too clustered and uniform, as a group, to be from field clearing. Here is the nicest one I saw:Another view:Closeup:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blessing of the Water

I think about site classification and for some reason the phrase "blessing of the water" has been going through my head along with the feeling that this category is pretty broad and seems to include some very different varieties. There are the pile-gap-pile sites, sites like the one from yesterday with big piles (with niches?), and there are frequently sites comprised of many small single or double rock-on-rock piles around a spring or breakout zone. I was just looking at pictures from today of a site like this with many of the single and double rocks being oblong and having a bit of a "neck" like a manitou stone. Here are 4 of them:It is a familiar shape.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Flowers on the way back from Dakins Brook

Questioning the validity of the astronomical hypothesis

Interesting statement from "What is a Medicine Wheel?" at the Royal Alberta Museum:

"It is very difficult to confirm the astronomical hypothesis, and it is no longer as popular as it was a decade ago. A number of astronomers such as Steven Haak in Nebraska and David Vogt in Vancouver have critically evaluated the idea and have expressed severe reservations about the hypothesis. They note that simple familiarity with the night sky would likely produce an adequate estimate for timing ceremonies. Further, if great accuracy had been desired, it could have been attained better by using narrow poles as foresight and backsight than by using wider rock cairns. "

I would argue that a calendar can provide a go/no go decision, needed by a society for one reason or another. But otherwise it is a valid criticism: how can we want accuracy with such crude structures? Maybe because shadows are crude, or maybe because narrow poles would have to be erected, using something like a "wider rock cairn" to hold the pole and act as a base. Or better still: because the date only needs to be defined up to a unit that requires less precision, like a day rather than a second.

Selling spirituality: "Register by 9/9/11 and save $75!"

Just received this in the mail:

Medicine Wheel Intensive at Earthlands

October 14-16, 2011

Register by 9/9/11 and save $75!

I'm excited to invite you to a full weekend working with the Earth Wisdom of the Medicine Wheel.
It's time to activate and amp-up your connection with the earth and the elements. The medicine wheel is calling you!

The Stone Medicine Wheel at Earthlands will guide us through a deeply transformational experience. Shamanic journeying, listening, and walking with intention will reveal ancient wisdom.

Some of the information you will learn:
  • Remove struggle to live happier and healthier,
  • Negative stresses that cause illness and mental fatigue.
  • Clearly see your limiting beliefs.
  • Ancient, natural ways to mind, body, spirit healing.
  • Receive "Medicine Words"
  • East-mind; South-body; West-feelings; North-truth.
  • Simple ways to build your own Medicine Wheel.
  • How to open and close your sacred space.

"My use of the Medicine Wheel has kept me mindful of my highest personal aspirations" - JM


I am all in favor of trading in knowledge for some $$$, but selling spirituality, especially in the form of repackaged Native American archeological structures seems particularly unethical. I have heard Native Americans getting quite angry about it. I posted a comment on the NEARA message board, asking why the organization is sponsoring the "Megalithomania" conference, for the same reason. And most of the NEARA participants see no problem with this as a way of "spreading awareness" of the structures. Meanwhile, I try to stick with observations and speculations about what we can see.

I mean really?
"amp-up your connection with the earth??? Better to plod along in suburban stupor.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brook-side rock piles at the Hager Hill Conservation Land, Boxborough MA

Let me write about the two sites outlined in red next to the yellow trail - locations are only approximate. The smaller site, a few feet from the trail junction, is visible from the trail. A first pile was just a small arrangement of rocks next to the beginning of a brook:A few feet downhill, also next to the brook, was a little table built against a rock:It is easy to imagine this as a small altar next to the brook.
At another spot where the yellow and blue trails are close together on the northeastern slope of the hill, one can see some large rock piles next to a brook there. I saw two of these just as it started raining hard. So the pictures did not come out well. Here was one - quite a big pile with big component rocks on a boulder, with a niche facing outward towards the brook.
Another, from one side:From the other:This one seems to have a niche in it as well. So while we are on the subject of "altars" next to the brook, perhaps these have a similar intent. I saw three other of these large piles with large rocks, in the ferns, a few feet away up the brook. These were in the video here. Blurry photos here: and here:By this time I was soaked, so I did not get good closeups, or think to wonder if these also had niches. But on the way back out I saw another table like structure:During the walk I was thinking about the classification of most sites as mound-with-hollow sites, marker pile sites, or water-related sites. Here are what seem to be water-related piles and they might have a feature involving a table or a niche. Something to look for.

Finally, that small outline at the lower right is a marker pile site, looking out southwest over water, Hager Hill across the way:

Rock piles in the rain - Boxborough MA

A small site near Hager Hill:

Now accepting job offers

[Not rock pile related] I got layed off and am looking for work.
: Math, Statistics, C++, Algorithms, Imaging, 3D, Data Mining, Medical Devices, etc.

I mention this for two reasons: (one) so anyone with contacts might be inclined to email me; (two) to explain why I am blogging mid-day, mid-week, and finding sites. The good news is I can take a walk every day. Too bad I cannot get a bounty for each new site cuz I found 3 today and it looks like I could use the money.

Rock pile sites of southwestern Estabrook Woods - Concord MA [CONTINUED]

...Continued from previous post

Site C
A new site in Concord, I found it by following the landform of site B, the "plateau", further south. About where Dakins Brook begins, right beside the open space of the mown fields, there is a little space below the "cliff" face with ~20 mounds. I do not think this is "Farmer's Cliffs" but it is in about the right vicinity:
The piles are in the more level area below this slope. At first glance, one sees something gray poking out of the surrounding bushes:Many are rectangular, about 8 feet across, and pretty smeared out.
Another:Another:This last one has a couple of larger rocks placed outward from one corner of the rectangle. Doesn't look random. This pile and others had some white quartz/feldspar:How unexpected to find these in Concord:
Aside from the larger rectangular ones built on the ground, there were also smaller piles built on support rocks. Some also had interesting components:
A bit closer to the brook were some other piles, a little more typical of brooksides around here.
Even managed to find one larger pile built on support. Always happy to spot "big game" like this.
There was a mixture of styles at this spot. Is this next an effigy, or a pile with a "manitou" stone?
At first I thought it was smeared rectangles and smaller piles on support. Then I saw that the piles continued into a lower wetter part of the site. Then I also saw some larger piles built on boulders, and evenly spaced - if not in lines:
Although not so obviously placed in lines and evenly spaced, these had a bit of a feel of an early marker pile site. I felt these piles were akin to the larger chambered mounds at B. For example this pile, the largest I saw at this site, is reminiscent of the piles with hollows built against boulders that we saw in Dunstable (see here).
So, an interesting and diverse site, joining a short list of other sites in Concord, a short list of sites in Estabrook Woods.

Rock pile sites of southwestern Estabrook Woods - Concord MA

None of these sites is fragile and, if they include burials, then the physical remnants have long since dissolved back into the soil. So there is a map. I won't discuss A (which I blogged here) or the un-labeled site at lower right. The site at B was shown to me on a field trip I took long ago with Norman Muller and Steve Ells. The site at C, at the headwaters of Dakins Brook, is new. It is rare to find a new site in my hometown and this is an interesting one.

Site B
Here are some pictures from the original visit to this site. That was April 2004. At the time all I could see about these 'mounds' was that they were on the brow of the hill, a sort of plateau looking southeast over Mink Pond. Situated that way, I thought these rock piles had an astronomical purpose.

I was thinking about this site recently. I tried and failed to locate it a couple of winters ago and was reminded of it when visiting site A with my wife a couple of weeks ago. I noticed a whole bit of the woods down west of the southern entrance, an area around "Farmer's Cliffs" on the map, that had not been explored recently. Anyway, remembering the site at B, looking over Mink Pond, I thought perhaps it was not astronomical but more consistent with the kind of rectangular burial mounds with inner chambers - that I call mounds with "hollows" under the heading "Wachusett Tradition". So I stayed to the left (along the road marked "Private") from the southern entrance and, in the end, circumnavigated the whole farm and field area, with a side trip up to see those remembered mounds.

At the northernmost end of the mown field, there is a swamp along the eastern edge, and there are a couple of rock piles in there (not indicated on the map fragment above) and one little "L" shaped corner of wall-like structure, right next to and opening towards the water. Take a look at that sometime. But when I got to the northernmost end of the mown field, I went around it and up to the brow of the hill/plateau there, thinking I would head north along the brow until I either saw the mounds or hit a trail that I knew I would have to cross. And I did come up to the first and then 2nd mound on the brow. They are very typical examples of rectangular mounds with hollows. Here is a first one:You can see the hollow on the interior of the pile, and get some sense of the vertical height of the remaining walls.

Here is a second one. From one end (essentially the same view as shown above for the first pile):
From the other end:Here is a video, trying to convey the shape:

As I say: "in the end it is a rock pile with a tail...and a hollow".

Here are an attempt at sketching the outlines of the two piles on the brow of the hill at B:
These are slightly smaller than the examples from Fitchburg (see here and more generally here) but it is not too much of a stretch to see these are all part of a common culture. So the Wachusett Tradition is seen here in Concord too.

There is a third mound in this group, down next to the trail from Mink Pond that goes around the north end of the plateau. This mound is much larger and much more badly damaged. I could not make out much of the internal structure. These larger, longer mounds, are often seen at "Wachusett" sites. Following the archeology convention of wild guesses based on minimal data, let's just say that this hints at a hierarchical society, with special burials (the mounds higher on the hill) reserved for some individuals and a larger communal grave (at the foot of the hill) for others.

Site C
[...continued in next post...]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pretty Country - Elbow Meadow

Elbow Meadow. Some old piles and short L-shaped stretches of wall

I have some pictures of rock piles that are dull, cuz the piles are so low and smeared out that they are barely visible as slight bumps in the forest floor, shadows in the dead leaves. But then I realized that they help to make a point: that older piles get more and more low and earth covered.
Even though one picture is probably enough, I found a second a few feet from this first one,
Since it is not clear, you'll have to take my word for it that these are rectangular piles perhaps 10 feet across. I also found three smaller piles built on support boulder (including one with a quartz cobble - not shown).
It was near a breakout zone, next to an end of a short stretch of stone wall.

The area of Elbow Meadow, which is in Tyngsborough, also is full of "L"-shaped short stretches of wall, near the brook:and:and this one, that leads down to the site with the rock piles mentioned above, before tapering off in a swamp:Another short stretch:

Later, I found one more low, almost invisible, rectangular pile about 10 feet across. That is as close to the Wachusett Tradition as I am likely to get up here in Tyngsborough.