Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coming up...

I cannot resist doing a "before" and "after" for a place I saw back in November 2011 [click here]. At the time this place was remarkable because of it being entirely inaccessible - but with rock piles visible on the island.
Here is what it looked like a weekend ago:
FFC and I were trying to find an easy winter walk, and I remembered this place and thought it would be accessible now. Had to cross a well-frozen drainage ditch. Bowers Brook was un-crossable, even after all the cold. The impression of rock piles grew stronger as I thumped through pretty deep snow in the last few steps.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Looking through old photos

I have stated here before my goal to find at least one arrowhead each month. I didn't find anything at all this month, the first time I fell short of my goal since early in 2011. I haven't seen an arrowhead on the ground in what feels like forever. Snow cover makes finding arrowheads all but impossible and the few chances I did have to search came up with nothing. All I can do is go through pictures of luckier times and look forward to getting a chance to see what the melting snow might have washed off out there, hopefully March is better for arrowhead hunting. Here is an old find that hasn't been shown here before, a small quartz triangle I picked up in July 2011.

Historical Writings on US Antiquities

theseventhgeneration's new blog, with the goal stated:
"A place to find quotes and links to old writings about rock piles, stone heaps, cairns and stone walls in the United States."
I know Mike Gage and Jim Porter have many such references.

Frontiers of Anthropology

Backtracking a "follower" found this site, which ought to be well liked by people who are "only in it for the diffusion". Actually, it is a nicely done blog which I ought to link to....DONE.

Artifact or Geofact?

Reader Melinda Neblett writes:
Hello, I found your website and wondered if someone could tell me if this rock/artifact I found is a petroglyph…it's about 3 1/2"diameter. 
[Update 1: I would add that the "design" is pecked into the rock surface and the color delineation is from the difference in surface levels (ie the "outside" of the rock is the orange-y color and what shows up as more gray is the pecked out area.]
[Update 2: One photo is included here which shows the back of the rock. I found this on a hilltop in central Texas, in the Hill Country. There are many areas of flint etc around and we have found multiple points also. Below this hilltop and down aways is a creek with springs so we know Indians were present for a long time. I also just read of articles on bird stones, and as soon as I saw one of your photographs, I thought of one that I'd picked up a couple of weeks ago as a curiosity thinking that it reminded me of a bird so much, and kept it. I was astounded to read your information. I'll take a picture of it also as soon as I can and show it to see if it might be a bird stone.] 
[Update 3 - One last picture (in higher mag if you click). I have to say this is looking more and more like an artifact - PWAX]

Split Wedge Rock in Westminster

Reader Nate Johnson writes:
I found this Split Wedge Rock formation out in the woods behind my parents house. The rock must weigh a ton. I've read that the Native Americans thought they were spirit portals. They must've spent a long time to wedge it open like this. We're located in Westminster, MA if someone wants to check it out. Once some snow melts that is.  There are also a few really old sunken in cairns in the area.
I have a couple pics of some of the rock piles. By "Sunken" I meant that there's a lot more rocks than you can see on the surface. Leaf litter is covering most of the smaller piles. 

Whether or not to include a name when forwarding posts?

I am never sure, when someone emails material to be posted, whether to name the sender explicitly. In the old days, letters to the editor would be published with the correspondent's name but, on the internet, it is more typical to protect people's privacy. 
I wish people would let me know what they prefer when they send something. Until then, I think I am going to start including people's names.

Turtle on Mt Yonah -- North Ga

[more re turtle shaped rocks] Reader N. Durrett:
I work full time and am in school, but when I can, I find time to go wander around and look for things like this.  I found these on Mount Yonah a couple months back and went back today to look around.  The cut-away chamber structure is really something.  There are aperture-like holes going through it both lengthwise and across, and also from top to bottom.  On the top is a straight, rectilineal segment that leads all the way along its flat top from the edge to an opening that goes all the way down to the ground level -- like a chimney.  The other picture looks so much like a turtle that I can't convince myself it's not.  At the very least, the stone appears to have been split, carved and texturized by something other than nature.
[Update - he continues:]
I think Mt Yonah is one of the best places in Georgia to look for such signs of human activity.  It is the nearest high point in relation to the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley.  Not only is it a high point, but it is also an unusual mountain in that there are prominent cliffs visible near the top which give it a salience that other nearby mountains covered only in trees lack.  The Sautee-Nacoochee Valley is the first floodplain valley encountered at the southern terminus of the Appalachians.  It is the location of the junction of two ancient hunting trails- the Unicoi and Rabun, and as such, has been a locus for human activity for as long as there have been humans in this land.  Numerous Clovis points have been found in the valley and there are a number of mounds in the valley still in existence, both of which have been studied- the Kenimer Mound, and the Nacoochee Mound.  So knowing that, it's only natural to assume that in its 10000 year near-proximity to larger than normal populations of humans, many unknown thousands or more have ascended the mountain for many reasons, ceremonial being the main ones for which to leave permanent signs or marks within or on the rock features of the mountain.  Thought of like this-in ten thousand plus years, any given point on the mountain has probably witnessed every type of human activity to which we assign high levels of meaning- birth, death, murder, sex, betrayal, worship, etc.-- perhaps many times over.  And unlike Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, it has not been systematically quarried, carved, owned, etc., so that in the many boulder fields and cliffs that remain, any rock we see that has irregularities not apparently due to natural processes must be assumed to have human causes.  And when I walk around on it and look at its elements with this ethos guiding the way in which I see them, then I see meaning in its every detail.  This is dangerous and can lead to false discoveries, but it also leads to a sense of wonder, magic, and continuity with the past that one could or should feel during all the moments of his or her waking/thinking life.  I think that this fascination of ours is mainly just an extension of our spiritual search for meaning in a rationally meaningless world.
[Update: new picture]

Mt Yonah - North Georgia

A reader sent some info, so before posting it, I thought to find out about Mt Yonah. This is from Gerogia Looks like quite a place.

Oh, wait - I think I see another one...

Keith Hamburger photo stolen from:

Oh, wait - I think I see another one...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hubbard's Black Birch Hill - Concord, MA

From Reader J. Brown, responding to a question:
The location comes with story, so here goes.
I have walked by, and around the base of E. Hubbard's Black Birch Hill countless times in my life.  In the past few years I have always had a strange feeling walking up the narrowed path to the west of the hill as it borders the newly created beaver "swamp."  Something about the dying trees and the light flooding in to illuminate the bank of the hill close to my right with the dark woods above was always intriguing.
Earlier this winter I found myself at that spot on a dark day just as a snow squall was passing by.  In a curious state I ventured east up the hill and was struck by the open nature of the woods, feeling like I could detect signs of an old road, or cart path.  I also noted the old pines and other trees damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  The wind was starting to swirl and howl at that point as it bent the tree tops while cresting over the hill.  I made my way down until I hit the stone wall bordering the swamp, turned west through a thicket of White Pine saplings and rejoined the trail there.
That was somewhat unremarkable, but it did interest me to search on-line for any of the history pertaining to Hubbard's Hill.  Recently, I have referred to Steve Ell's map of the woods for place names and general locations. That led me to the Rockpiles blog and a walk you took with Walter Brain in 2009 to a stone chamber located somewhere in that area [see here - PWAX].  I related that story to my good friend and walking companion Julie, and we agreed to go out the next day to try and find this intriguing site.
We hiked out and turned up the hill at the same point I had done earlier.  Julie led the way and wanted to see the top of the hill, when I had previously veered left, never getting that high.  At the summit she immediately pointed out the perfect four foot circle of rocks reminiscent of one left from an old camp fire.  The center was filled with pine needles and the rocks were half buried, so it clearly hadn't been used recently by kids or others.  We thought that was interesting and then turned down the hill walking more or less north.  About half way down to the stone wall, at the base of the hill, I began to see several mounds of gravel  close by.  I pointed these out then looked around detecting many more in the slope of woods surrounding us.  They were clearly elongated piles of sand and gravel dug up from the surrounding material as they each had a "moat" where the earth had been excavated.  Some I noticed had a several larger rocks on top.  We thought these to be very curious and warrant some further investigation, but we were there to find the stone chamber which I surmised to be along the stone wall I had walked along previously.  That was the case; we came upon it quickly when we turned east for a couple hundred feet.
I wrote above that I went back yesterday to get my bearings before writing this.  I thought it was odd in your write-up about the stone chamber that you mentioned the stone wall running north-south.  In fact it runs fairly east-west and I wanted to check that with a compass. [I get my directions confused up there - PWAX] If you look at the north facing hillside as a large triangle with the east and west running stone wall and stone chamber as the base, the stone circle at the summit becomes the apex.  The mounds fall within that triangle, approximately 100' west and 150' south, or uphill, from the chamber.  There is still about six inches of snow on the ground and that obscures the details of the mounds, but they can be seen clearly.  I measured one to give you a better sense of the size, and with it's layer of snow roughly was:  96 inches L. 36-42 inches W. 18 inches H. with an 12-15" wide "moat" of excavated material surrounding it.  The snow needs to melt before an accurate count of the number and position of mounds can be made.  On a couple I could see the larger rocks on top poking through the snow cover. 
The remarkable event of yesterday's excursion was my trip to the top of the hill to look again at the circle of rocks.  They were still buried in snow, as I expected.  Upon reaching the summit, I saw a large gray area or patch in the snow about the size of a dining table.  It was nothing but tufts of gray fur covering the ground mixed with some balls of ground grass (stomach contents) and coyote feces.  There was no blood really, just ruddy patches here and there.  I was thinking what large animal has this much gray fur, and then slightly off to the right I noticed the hoof and eighteen inches of leg bone from a deer.  The sense of awe and amazement at the sight was broken only by another hiker coming up the hill a few moments later.  We remarked at the spectacle, and he snapped a couple of photos with his phone, as I had forgotten to put mine in the knapsack.  That's the first time I have ever stumbled across a large kill before, and I'll remember it for many years to come. 
So there you go....

Rock Pile Turtle Site

From Keith Hamburger:
This site is next to a stream. There are 20 or more rock piles here. Many of the smaller ground piles are covered by dense leaf mold. There are 3 large boulder supported rock piles. Every rock on these piles has quartz in them. Some are pure quartz and some have quartz veins. There are ground piles that are made up of all quartz vein rocks, whereas some piles are absent of any quartz. One ground pile i found looks made of up all pure white quartz rocks. The amount of quartz used at this site is amazing. All the piles here glow bright white, the photos do no justice.
The big discovery at this site is an amazing, beautiful preserved turtle effigy. It is an unmistakable, perfect likeness of a (snapping) turtle.
I could not believe my eyes! It was the feeling like finding a lost treasure, this was a very thrilling moment! The details, curves and likeness of a profiled turtle are truly incredible and 100% exact in all the details leaving no doubt this is a turtle. The circular curves of its eye, the raised brow are, the beaked nose, the neck, and the chin curves are all perfect. 
It must have been an enhanced rock with some partial chipping to do this. I am going with the assumption that there is some evidence of pecking. It photographs beautifully! Either carved, enhanced, or natural, it must have taken a lot of work to be able for the to have located this rock and to make it a turtle head. It is an amazing piece of Native American sacred ceremonial artwork and commands power by its presence here.  The turtle effigy here makes a strong connection between all the other rock piles, surely making a stronger point that the Natives built these piles for certain. This site helps confirm, and strengthen the connection between the Indians and the ceremonial turtle, and the use of quartz. This site must have been an important ceremonial place. Notice the rock holding the head, it has a quartz vein. The head is in a fragile position, resting and balancing on a few rocks. Miraculously it's still in its original position as placed there by ancient hands, how it lasted through antiquity in this position is miraculous. Looking at this turtle rock is like looking into the distant past.
  The head is 24" long at the face area. The body and carapace is covered with a deep layer of leaved making me wonder what other features are under there. I can feel rocks around the turtle under the leaves, possibly being it's feet?.  There appears a shallow concave dish shaped area on top of the head near the nose, possibly natural or man made. The Turtle face East and is in straight alignment with 8 other interesting zoomorphic shaped smaller piles for 50 feet.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lithia Springs GA; Smiling Turtle

"The Smiling Turtle Effigy has stood guard over Lithia Springs for thousands of years. This ancient guardian has never been see by the modern world because it was buried beneath jungle and earth until only recently..."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Turtle Effigy - Pierre South Dakota and others from nearby states

Click here
And another in North Dakota here
Ooh! here are some from Saskatchewan   
From the Upland Talk Bulletin Board: here are some more from North Dakota. Seems familiar.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

National Trust calls for Native Site Nominations

Via the NEARA Bulletin Board:

"Recognizing the importance of preserving the Native American traditions, history and culture, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is asking for nominations of Native American endangered sites for its 26th annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places."

Read more at http://indiancountr ytodaymedianetwo 02/06/national- trust-calls- native-site- nominations- 147497

[Adding: maybe Oley Hills should be nominated]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow no rock piles

Maybe I'll surf the internet but there is nothing to see under the blanket of white.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Wrong turn

I moved to Attleboro some time ago. Long ago, the area around the Ten Mile River was very densely settled by Indians, many thousands of stone tools were found here in the past and red felsite quarried here in prehistoric times was used all over New England. Today, downtown Attleboro has buried most of the sites, and the other areas along the river have mostly all been built up as well. But I imagine there is still stuff to find under pavement and in the yards of homes. A lifelong resident told me a story about finding arrowheads in a stream bed. These kind of stories raise my blood pressure. Often times they are just tall tales but in this particular case the description of the assemblage of artifacts found was really convincing. The location was really unusual, a tiny island of woods in an area very much disturbed by lots of construction and development. I went and searched but couldn't see even a single rock in that area, just leaves and muck. If this was the place, and there were arrowheads to find here once, there aren't any to be found now.

Last week I took a wrong turn on my way to the post office. I found myself on a road I had not traveled before. The road passed very near the spot where it was claimed that the arrowheads were found, it went over the same stream. I peered into a tiny patch of woods where the rocky terrain sloped down to the stream, thinking maybe there might be some kind of stream bank or gravel where there might be some exposure. I didn't see anything like that but I did see a bunch of rock piles. I took a little walk out there and took some pictures. Here is one that was kind of like an oval stone ring with a larger cobble near one end.
Another low pile, also with a vague hint of structure.
The space between these rocks forms a little niche.
A couple of rocks on a bigger rock.
 The gap between these two pieces has been filled with smaller stones.

This most interesting feature was hard to photograph. A low mound, about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long approximately. A row of flat stones surrounds this raised area. This is definitely artificial, clearly some kind of deliberate structure. But what?

These two piles were only a few feet apart. Field clearing piles? This slope is extremely rocky and although it was deforested at one time, I can't imagine it was ever cleared of rocks.

Another pile, and a suggestive little structure.

Very near the water, this ruin.
Across the street is a small area with more stonework. Here are some pictures I took from the road, clearly there is some more original topography here. Unfortunately this is a little area in the midst of a lot of development including I-95, power lines, a road and buildings. Tough to say what might have always been here and what might have been moved around. Any thoughts on this site would be appreciated.