Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Arrowheads 2013 In Review

My best finds, month by month, 2013.
My best quartzite point so far.
My first month with zero finds, in a long time. Too much snow...
My first Jack's Reef.
The two on the left were my first finds in a new place that turned out to be really productive.
All of these were from one place, over two weekends.
It was a tough summer for finding artifacts this year...
First find in another new place.
That pretty pink and red Greene point was my best find of 2013.
Two tiny so-called "bird points."
Most unexpected find: Broken Stark point in my dad's driveway.
Biggest "first" of the year: my first soapstone bowl fragment.
Best "in situ" photo: I have two candidates, the Jack's Reef and photo 5 in this post.
Heartbreaker of the year: broken Levanna base from this post. Also this Neville base from the fall:
I spent a lot of time searching in 2013 and I spent a lot of that time not finding anything. A real productive spot from 2012 produced very little for me this year, another favorite place yielded up nothing at all. I offset that somewhat by finding a couple of new spots and I am proud of my finds but wish I could have found one or two more nice points in different shapes and materials. I feel like I have had better luck in other years. One lesson I have learned about this hobby this year is that there are absolutely no guarantees, ever. I can remember a few times after hard rains in gorgeous conditions in very productive places where I searched hard for hours and walked away with nothing. There is an element of luck to this that nothing can change. I wish everybody a wonderful New Year and hope everyone finds more of whatever they are looking for in 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Last Arrowhead Finds 2013

It has rained a lot, and snowed, and the snow melted and more rain fell, where I live. This is perfect weather for exposing arrowheads. Unfortunately, December has been another busy month for me. I have been so busy that I am still behind in posting finds from the fall, but I suppose there will be some snowy weeks in the coming months, where I will have time to get caught up. Before this month is over I wanted to share some finds from my only productive arrowhead hunt in December.

I got lucky and there was a hard rain on a Friday night. This makes for great conditions for searching, clean rocks contrasting sharply against the moist ground. Unfortunately on that Saturday when I could get out and search it was cloudless, bright sun makes it hard to look. I wasn't feeling very motivated and I didn't actually get out of the house until the afternoon. I went to a place where I have seen others looking for arrowheads before and sure enough, there were fresh footprints in the most likely places. I didn't want to be looking at someone else's footprints all day so I decided to check an area that I usually skip, and where nobody else seems to look, either. It's kind of far from the water, there are less chips and flakes from toolmaking than in the adjacent areas but there are a lot of rocks there to look at, it's challenging. Really I wasn't expecting to find anything but thought it was worth a look. I thought this looked promising, probably just a pointy flake, maybe a broken arrowhead tip, but I did snap this one picture before I picked it up.
This was a surprise. It's perfect! It's really a thrill to pull something like this out of the ground. Pretty. This is how it looked right out of the ground, untouched for centuries, until this moment.
So now I am feeling like maybe I should search this area more carefully. I already found something and I don't care if I don't find anything else but I should be thorough in this challenging place with all these rocks. I searched fruitlessly for a while but as the sun was starting to set I spotted this. It really looked like it was deliberately flaked and might be an arrowhead, but it was just too big. Maybe it could be a scraper or preform, more likely just a big broken quartz chunk but I did snap, again, just one photo before I picked it up.
Well, another surprise. I have a number of small stemmed or Squibnocket Stemmed quartz arrowheads like this but none this big. More typically they are about half this size. This is the largest point in this shape and material that I have ever seen, as far as I can remember. The tip is damaged but of course I am really happy with it anyway.
Sometimes I really long to find materials other than quartz, quartz points dominate my collection. But I can't deny that the white material is really pretty.
Here they are cleaned up a little. It rained hard today, I am sure there is something else to find there and maybe I can have some luck if I put in the time.

Stone Chamber video

from reader "theoriginalmungaman":

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 - The Year In Review

It was a good year for rock pile hunting but I had to drive further from home to get to large pieces of woods. The year found me finishing off all the obvious places in northern Fitchburg, many places north of there in Asbhy and Ashburnham, and even getting a few miles into southern NH, in New Ipswich. I also penetrated further north in the area of Dunklee Pond in Hollis, NH. While I continued exploring, readers continued to send pictures and text, especially from GA (see "Mt Yonah") and from Nova Scotia. However there are stone turtles, split rocks, piles with hollows, etc, showing up from everywhere on the east coast. At this point just about everyone who is listening has heard about "Indian stone piles" and the subject is on its way into the mainstream.

Meanwhile, I have not been posting as regularly as in the past. Blog readership is about 1/2 of what it was a year ago. There was that particularly sad episode of people removing the top of a hollow cairn to satisfy a misplaced curiosity about contents. On top of this, I became clearer in my conviction that these large rectangles with hollows are burial mounds. The sense that I am not always welcome to be clambering around on them was particularly strong up there in NH - where the woods are glum. And now I am glum and not sure whether I want to keep up the hunt. For now, I believe I can ignore readership drop-off, ignore the occasional "educated" vandal, and maybe I can hope to find sunnier woods. 

Before the snow shut down exploring, I visited a site on an island in Bowers Brook Harvard. This was a sort of "smoking gun" because of the impossibility of a practical reason for building careful rock piles on an island in the middle of wet marsh.

Found the first truly nice collection of "mounds with hollows" in the part of Dover, MA called "Powissett"
I contacted the Trustees of Reservation, who own the land, and they distinguished themselves by a complete lack of interest. 

Also in March, I was invited to Harvard to see a lovely spot:
It was here I became aware of the idea that these mounds may have a lingering smell, detectable by dogs.
The way dogs guard a position on tops of these things is eerie.

April (the snow seems to have cleared by now)
Franklin State Forest has several sites, along the headwaters of Mine Brook. For example these old mid-sized domes:

Strawberry Hill in Acton, turned up a first example of a rectangle with hollows, from this part of Acton:

Amazing examples from College Rock (not a new discovery but a new part of this extensive rock pile "region")

Snow is long gone now. One sweet isolated example from Benjamin Hill Shirley:
And, speaking of Shirley, what was probably the most noteworthy site for me this year was an un-expected brookside "berm-and-mound" from Spruce Swamp Brook:
The reason this site was noteworthy is that it is in Shirley, where there is not much to be found, AND it is of an unusual configuration, running towards long messy berms. Later this last year, I started associating such berms with the more northern sites in Ashby and southern NH. In retrospect, this site in Shirley may be more of that general nature. This was also a site where I saw a different kind of "smoking gun" consisting of rock piles in a brook valley that had been completely silted over:

This was about when I was confirming that the Fort Devens stone wall map was a useful guide to rock pile sites. Like Duck Pond Ridge in Groton:

Large, fern-covered mounds at Hager Park in Westminster:

East of Watatic Pond, Ashby. A fine set of large debris-covered mounds:
A few odds and ends around Sippewissett in Falmouth.

Nothing much. 

The best of NEMBA: a Milford site at the center of a planned casino development:

The largest and, arguably, best stone mound of the year. From High Ridge Wildlife Management area in Westminster. A big mound with a shallow hollow on top and a short stone wall extending from it:

It was also around now that the phrase "Mayans in Georgia" got some currency from the publications of Thornton and the "People of One Fire". We had some fun with the phrase but, in the end, I urge people to treat seriously the whole topic of pan-American mound building cultures. Also paying more attention to terracing.

Extended the Blood Rd sites in Groton to include places north of the Crystal Springs entrance. More outlines with hollows:

Also, visited Woodbridge CT and also I gave a talk in Harvard.

More unexpected mounds from the Rubin Land in Boxborough (unexpected cuz I thought I already explored that, but was schooled by a reader)

Whittemore Hill in New Ipswich, NH:
It is in these northern lattitudes where the rectangles with hollows are replaced with "elongated berms with bays". Also saw them at Blood Hill and in northwestern Willard Brook:

Many beautiful things at Codman Hill in Harvard:
Wondrous but depressing structures from Dunklee Pond in Hollis, NH:
And many other small sites and odds and ends, everywhere in between.

Christmas and New Year's vacation continues and the snow has a decent crust by now. Maybe I'll still have some more finds before the year is done.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A little something from Northwest Willard Brook

From a site discussed here I did not show this:
In a way it is of the same design as others from that site, discussed also here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Codman Hill Harvard

I am sure Bruce McAleer, who first discovered this site, will be pleased to know it has been acquired by a Harvard Land Trust group and will be conserved. We took a nice walk there, more later about that. It was great light:

Sarah Doublet Turtle

Reader Russ writes:
Finally got to Sarah Doublet anyway, just before the snow.  An awesome hour in the woods this afternoon. 

This “PacMan” turtle is diagonally across from the carved basin on Wunnahu loop.  Hopefully you can see it!  The snow fills in the gaps well.  I believe it to be carved.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Squirrel Mountain Petroglyph

[Not quite rock pile related] from the "People of One Fire":
Update: I added a link to the right.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Near Parker Brook

Twenty yards or so from a road that crosses Parker Brook at Dunklee Pond in NH, a small site looking out over the wetland: