Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Outing to a road in Carlisle

With Bruce and Jic, on the way to a site we wanted to show Bruce, this was seen from the car:
These piles are in a level area at the top of a brook:
It turned out later this brook empties into the same marsh we were heading to later. But we never saw these before. Some were in good condition, others not so much:
Here is Bruce showing a white rock in a pile, a common feature of several piles here.
 While Jic stayed on the road talking to the landowner:
I scrambled around taking pictures. Here is one with its feet in the water:
Another with quartz:
These things are everywhere around here. I guess I am lucky to live in the area.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ella the stone turtle

Turtle by Jic Davis, video by Cam:

Rock Pile Hunters

We had a reunion: Bruce McAleer, Peter Waksman, Jic Davis.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beaver Damage

It is still a thrill seeing this. There were no Beavers here when I was young.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Purgatoire Brook - Westwood MA

I have been dividing my weekend explorations between southern destinations (like Dover and Westwood) and my old favorites - out west in Fitchburg, Leominster, and Sterling. I go south to avoid snow and go west cuz I like it out there. So last weekend found me heading south on 128 towards Westwood and a woods near the Deadham town forest along the -colorfully named- Purgatoire brook.
My successes have been limited lately and this was no exception. I thought I saw rock piles but was not sure if they were ancient or more modern and boring. Later I saw something else and was arguing with myself whether it was natural or ceremonial. The whole notion of finding ceremonial structures is threatened on every side! Joking aside, I think I did find a small site there and it looks like some form of old rectangular mounds, etc.
What was interesting is that sometimes it is the smallest detail that is definitive. I parked at the end of Sandy Valley Rd.and walked back a short ways to look at something on the bank next to the road:
I guess this is the remains of a awfully minimal site:
 Note the shim:
So this direction, west of the road looked good and I continued in that direction, up to a low outcrop and a very messy rock pile:
I could not convince myself this was ceremonial. But it does have those rectangular elements I look for and note the consistent size of its component rocks. Here was a small pile adjacent to the mess:
And a few feet away, another large messy pile:
I was still in a quandry about whether this was not from field clearing. Yes it has ceremonial elements but it is not clear. Then I found this little pile:
To me this is definitively ceremonial. But it is so inconspicuous!
There was more stuff there swinging the jury back in the skeptical direction but, still, that little pile. You see:
Also a bunch of policemen out exercising their dogs. Part of a "CAP" program - whatever that is. Back to the rock piles, here we see something, but... was so formless I could not decide if it was man made.
It was all very ambiguous. Aside from the snow, where are the cairns of yesteryear?

More archaeological nonsense

Continuing the series of "angry old man" posts about foolishness. How about this (from here):

Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and previous generations of scholars believed that Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the crop to Southeast Asia and the Pacific beginning in the 16th century. But in recent years, archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting another hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them.

Once again American's native population is assumed too dumb to go sailing. So the Polynesians must have done the round trip. Also it is as if they never hear about Kon Tiki.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Irish Horses

Look at the split filled rock in the background.

Stone Cairns of West-Central Texas

Area ranchers typically have referred to these large cairn clusters as “Indian burial grounds”

Gold and Jewels!!!

From "A French-Peruvian-Spanish Team Discovers a (Burial?) Chamber in Machu Picchu" at 24-7

"The different techniques used by the French researcher(s), (Molecular Frequencies Discriminator) allowed them to highlight the presence of important archaeological material, including deposits of metal and a large quantity of gold and silver!"

Following my idea that archeology is mostly about digging up treasure: After this, Machu Picchu will get probably get more attention.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The World Archaeology Map

I read archeology news every day at Archaeologica and decided to go back through the past year (I made it back to November) and see how many of the stories were about America. It turns out that more than 90% of the world's archeology budget is devoted to three peninsulas, an island, and a couple of places in the Bible. Namely: Greece, Italy, Mexico, England, Isreal/Middle East, and Eygpt. Here is a map tallying where each reported story was written about. Circles and stars represent "select" sites, chosen by some magazine or other.
Of the 13 places mentioned in the eastern US, more than half were historic. This tends to bear out the cynical view that the US has no archeology. We share this distinction with South America and Africa, believe it or not. Also Spain seems to lag far behind other European countries. Also Saudi Arabia and northern Asia do not get a lot of archeology reported. I would guess, except for Spain, that the reason for the lack of archeology is, on the one hand, a lack of interest in "primitive" people and, on the other hand, a readiness to judge some ethnicities as primitive. 
Update: So what is it? Why is Central America popular but South America is not? My guess is that "archeology" has always been mostly about digging up "gold and jewels". Since the Spaniards took away the gold from Peru, there is no more incentive to dig it up and report on it. Could that have anything to do with the lack of archeology today in Spain?
To be fair, looking into your ancestors is an important reason to do archeology, and it helps explain the large volume of stories about England, Italy, and Greece and Biblical areas.

A bigger piece of quartz

     I spent some time on Saturday exploring along a river near a spot where I found a nice quartz arrowhead last year. The arrowhead was in a low flat area near the water, a little further from the riverbank the terrain rises to a little hill and I thought that place would also be worth searching. At or near the top of the little hill is an old stone wall. I thought this construction in this otherwise entirely ordinary wall was interesting.
     A quartz boulder rests on a quartz pedestal, flanked by two big upright vertical slabs. Here's a closer look at that pretty piece of quartz.
     The rest of this wall runs along and ends at an ordinary old cellar hole near the base of the hill. I wonder if these big quartz pieces and slabs were moved from somewhere else close by? There is no doubt that Indians in this spot were using quartz for tools, long ago.
     Sunday I spent three and a half hours searching for arrowheads in a very likely spot. I didn't find even a single broken piece. Days like that are discouraging but unavoidable, arrowheads are hard to find.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Roadside Attractions - Ashburnham

Made the mistake of heading west in the direction of more snow rather than less, and spent time walking around a dismal swap. Several reasons to give up on that walk: snow; hurt feet; significant #s of "No Trespassing" signs [in a rural  area where it would be reasonable to expect armed homeowners]; and the sheer absence of anything approximating a rock pile.

Drove around instead and saw piles on Needham Rd and on some offshoot of Bragg Hill. I wanted to take a closer look but these were:
- at the edge of someone's front yard
-between houses
- next to a driveway
I especially wished I could get out and have a closer look at that one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Russell Millpond in Chelmsford, MA

I succeeded in finding a new woods to explore, not too far from home, and with interesting water and rock topography. There are always a few ceremonial traces:
The trail committee is doing something funny over there, with soil disturbances and a few stacked rocks next to the trail. One place I saw a trench of disturbed soil about 6 feet long. Can't figure that one out.
I did not see too much but, again, there are always a few traces. 
Perhaps more would have been visible, if not for the snow. In the case of the next structure, the only mound-like object I saw, I am afraid more visibility would have revealed it as not ceremonial. 
This is down in the southeastern-most part of the place, perhaps on private property. From there I swung back around to the east, passing this:
and then I saw one more interesting item as I headed back north.
Each of these different structures was familiar in its own way but isolated and lacking context.

As I headed out, I fell through the ice on a puddle I didn't notice. While floundering and trying to get out without falling through again, I didn't notice cutting my hand and seriously bruising my foot. I mostly felt embarrassed - not really a Jack London character.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Little More from Nova Scotia

Propped or Perched, Natural or Anthropogenic, linked by rows of cobbles and boulders of many shapes and sizes - some of these Boulders (  )in Nova Scotia, photographed by Abvhiael Crowley, are certainly "of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature," as Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster put it...

More here:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First arrowhead finds in 2013

     For the first several days of 2013 the ground here was covered in some inches of snow. With no chance of finding an arrowhead I was able to get some stuff done around the house for a change. Last week was faily warm and then Friday we got some steady rain that washed away what little snow was left. Saturday morning I went out to see what the melting snow might have revealed.

     As I have mentioned before, my goal is to try to find a point in every month. I will be out of town for the next couple of weekends and so this weekend was going to be my one and only chance to get something for January. It's not easy this time of year and I honestly did not think that my chances of success were very good. I took kind of a long drive to a place where I have had some luck before but looking for arrowheads is always hit or miss. I got out of the car and found an area where conditions were good, lots of dirt exposed among the grass. The first place I looked was not an area that I really expected to find anything in, I would have been happy even with a broken fragment, anything. But after just a few short minutes I spotted this, fully exposed.
     I love finding them like this, such a thrill. Here is a closer look.
     This is a really lovely material, gray-purple quartzite. This is my first (mostly) intact point in this material. The very tip is damaged. I like the shape of this one very much. This is a great find for me.
     I looked for a while more, picking up lots of chips and flakes. I bent down to pick up a piece of quartz that was barely sticking out of the dirt, only a sliver of one edge was visible. When it came out of the ground it was caked with dirt and as I started wiping the dirt away my excitement level was building rapidly, could it be? It was.
     At first I kind of dismissed this as a crude piece but as time has passed it has really grown on me and I am really happy with it. It is all there and it is really rather nicely made. The stem is ground, I think it is very old, Archaic period maybe, though these narrow stemmed types are tough to date. Finding two points in a day is a great day for me and I really like to find these stemmed forms.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Noanet Brook Crossing

This one took poise - and a stick. On the way, saw a woodpecker:
Oh, yeah. Also this:

 Note the bucket.