Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Obelisk Chamber, Reading VT

Norman Muller writes:
In Reading, VT, is the Obelisk Chamber, which I’ve never seen. Photos of the chamber were sent to me by a woman who participated in an excavation at the chamber in the late 1980s, along with Ken Moore and Dorothy Hayden. An account of their finds was published in something called The American Institute Newsletter (published by Ken Moore). When Moore and company obtained permission to excavate the chamber, they found an obelisk inside the chamber and others outside! At first I had trouble believing an obelisk was found inside the chamber, until I enlarged one of the color transparencies I received and did see an obelisk inside the entranceway (this standing stone was removed by Moore and company and is now missing). Around 1989 Moore and his crew excavated around the entrance and found what appeared to be a large bowl. This was removed and has since disappeared. So much for the professionalism of Moore. However, the chamber is an important example of something other than a root cellar. Attached are photos of the chamber, a detail of the entrance showing the obelisk inside, and two photos of the bowl that was discovered near the entrance. I was persuaded to send you this after you posted a photo of a similar looking bowl...

Update from Norman:

I found a copy of the Institute Newsletter (of The American Institute for Archaeological Research, Inc.), Vol III, No. 3 (March 1987), and in it are some comments about the Obelisk Chamber.

The chamber is at an elevation of 2100 feet, and was brought to the attention of one of the members of the AIAR by the property owner who was clearing some land to build a new home, and discovered the chamber.

“The chamber is built above ground with the opening, or door, facing to summer solstice sunrise. A standing stone is in place a few yards in front of the entrance and the obelisk, tapered to a point, sits central within the chamber on a base. Around the outside are very large stones, now fallen, which have each a depression and base to indicate where they should stand.

“Outside, from the back, one may walk up what appears to be, under the silt, a flight of steps and stand at a squarecut sandstone altar which is at the front and above the door. This altar is split in half as is the ceiling slab under it, probably from lightning strike or earthquake in the past age, and had at either side a standing upright end slab. These have fallen and thence slid down either side of the mound, but their original place can be determined as each is cut to fit. Once restored, these ends will be similar to those on the sacrificial table at Mystery Hill.

“The next unique feature is that two openings seem to have been built in, one on either side of the chamber and from the inside lead out just behind at either end of the altar. Here again we see a feature comparable to the table at Mystery Hill with it’s speaking tube from inside the Oracle Chamber.”

All of this is difficult to visualize, and unfortunately no drawings were made of the chamber and its details to clarify what was written in the newsletter.

There was a photograph taken from inside the chamber looking out, with the obelisk silhouetted against the outside light streaming in, and in alignment with the standing stone outside. The photo is unfortunately distorted through photocopying, but I will make a copy of it and send it to you.

Too bad this important chamber was not properly documented.


pwax said...

Wow! To me, it looks like someone built a very careful "sundial" of some kind. What else could it be?

Norman said...

Having read so much about chambers being built as root cellars, I'm always on the lookout for examples that obviously aren't. And this is in that category.

Tim MacSweeney said...

The stone was found buried, rather than standing, right? The bowl looks like soapstone (staetite) bowls used for cooking:

Norman said...

I have no idea whether the stone (I assume you mean the standing stone) was found buried. I believe it must have been somewhat buried in the ground. But for some nutty reason, those who worked on the "dig" removed it, and now it is gone for good.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Amazing. At least these pictures survive to show us what the chamber was like before the artifacts were removed. A very important information on these stone chambers!

-Matthew Howes