Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Near Sippewisset

At the end of Terhuen Dr in Falmouth, there is a path into the woods. You step on a couple of smeared out rock piles (a) and then have a choice between a short easy walk on the path or heading into the bullbriar. Last weekend I went south along the side of the gully to (b) where I noticed an isolated rock pile and a low, very decrepit, stone wall. It runs south along the side of the valley, then turns, crosses a knoll where it forms more of a mound, then terminates at a large boulder. I did not have my camera as I did not expect to find anything on that walk. I went back this weekend for a more thorough look. I see now that the land form is a southern piece of Swift's Hill, one of the tallest hills in the town. 
In fact this hill has rock piles all over it if you look carefully. At (c) there were ~3 piles.
At (d) I stumbled back into a site where I have been before. Seems as though I always end up here in the same place. Lost in the woods, I am able to locate myself because I recognize a rock pile. The place is well hidden otherwise.
Then I extricated myself. [These accounts are sprinkled with references to the difficulty of walking in here. My legs are all scratched up with bullbriar scratches and I dare say, not too many people go off trail in this part of town.]. 
Taking the straight line from the hilltop back towards (a) I found myself stepping on other rock piles again at (e). So they are well hidden, and difficult to get to but this hill has plenty of rock pile clusters. My understanding is that the higher norther part of Swift's Hill is private property. A landowner there asked me to come look at the stone structures on his property, so there is that still to do.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Recognize the Boulder?

This is the cover art for the album American Stonehenge by the artist Robin Williamson. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the record label or the graphic artist(s).
American Stonehenge is a folk album released in 1978 by Robin Williamson and his Merry Band. This album was produced by Robin Williamson and engineered by Dirk Dalton at Dirk Dalton Recording, Santa Monica, California, in December 1977.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's this?

From an anonymous reader:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A dry stretch

     I haven't been finding many Indian artifacts lately. The summer is tough, it's hot and humid, the sun beats down and burns my skin. There's vegetation everywhere, and loads of bugs. I don't know how the Indians dealt with it. Deer flies are the worst. There may be some rare instances where you can shoo them away but most of the time a deer fly that has locked on to you as a target will not leave before you kill it or it feeds. If you are lucky you might be able to swat it right away but most of the time you find yourself just slapping your head and neck over and over for minutes. The rush of triumph when you finally get the fly can be greater than the thrill of a find, even when the finds are relatively few and far between.
     It's been really dry recently. It rained hard today but last week, not a drop. The lack of rain means nothing new is popping up in my favorite places to look for stuff. I am forced to look instead in less productive places. If I find an arrowhead in a place I know there are more to find and I will return again and again. Sometimes I will spend many hours in a place over a period of months or years and not find anything but you never know when you might make an amazing find in an unexpected place. I have been looking for arrowheads with my friend Dave, especially in large unproductive places it helps to have two people to cover the ground and being able to chat with someone alleviates the boredom of walking miles without finding anything. I keep track of where we find stuff and it helps me to understand where the best spots are, and where there might be big areas that are void. We went to a large place where I haven't found very much, despite spending a lot of time there. I found a small, crude quartz stemmed point. Dave found a larger, better quartz stemmed point missing the tip and also an amazing artifact, half of an atl-atl counterweight. He had no idea what it was when he handed me this strange grooved rock. This is what collectors might call a ball bannerstone. These are really rare and almost always broken, the freeze/thaw cycle breaks them over time. I hope the other half is still out there and that I might find it some day. I'm not sure I will be taking Dave back to this place.

     In a different place I found this neat artifact, perhaps a scraper or some other tool worked down until it could not be worked any further and discarded. I'm not sure what the material is, something exotic. They really prized material like this and you can tell that this thing was heavily resharpened. I found a quartz projectile point tip nearby.

     There is a place I drive by often that was one of the first places I ever searched for artifacts. I spent a lot of time there, whole days, but never found any trace of prehistoric man. As I got better, learned more about what to look for and how to read early history on the surface of the earth, I kept returning to this spot at odd intervals but I never found even a flake or chip of toolmaking stone. Dave would often ask about it and encourage me to go back there. It's on a stream, the ground is really dry and sandy, it looks so perfect for Indians. I have found arrowheads at other places along that same stream, why would they avoid this spot? Earlier this month Dave brought it up again. I figured it would be best for him to see this place for himself to see just how void this place is, so we went to check it out. I had been walking for less than three minutes when I spotted this. I was astounded. The tip is perfect.
      Dave found this nearby. It would be hard to find a better example in this shape and material. Flawless.


     We also each found a larger piece of a material I can't readily identify, showing obvious flaking but not really looking like tools. Perhaps these were just blanks, preforms that might have been stockpiled for future use. We scoured the rest of the area, I did find a grand total of three small quartz flakes. Perhaps these projectile points were lost while hunting, perhaps this was a small camp occupied only for a short time? These two quartz points are to me really typical for southeastern Massachusetts. I will return to this place every year but wouldn't be surprised if I never found anything else there.

      Here is the last of my summer finds so far. The quartz pieces at left and center are from Rhode Island on Saturday, there is the base of a stemmed point and a really crude point that looks like what is called a Rossville- but it's really rough, maybe a reject that was discarded. It was so hot there that the ground was baked into an asphalt-like crust and every chip had to be pried out of the dirt. The felsite tip on the right was all I found in some hours of incredibly uncomfortable searching today in the pouring rain after work. I got bitten by a tick, too. It's really thin and shows nice flaking, it's a fragment of what must have been something really nice. Not worth getting soaked and the tick bite, though. And in the rain you can't feel the deer flies until they bite!

Saudi Arabian arrowheads

So rare to see pictures of arrowheads, especially from outside the US [click here] from "Past Horizons"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Re: "Rock Piles and Stone Structures"

Reader DG writes (commenting on this blog post):
I think part of the difficulty in comparing petroforms in the eastern US with those in Europe (particularly the subarctic regions) is that it is often difficult to visually judge their antiquity, especially in colder places where lichens and mosses grow relatively slowly. Here is a recent picture I took of a prehistoric cairn at an extensive assemblage in Pickens Co., Georgia:
Here are some images I took recently on Hardangervidda in western Norway:
While some of these cairns may be centuries old, others may have been set up by a happy hiker last Tuesday -- even under close inspection, it's hard to tell the difference. While I was initially miffed that people had been "vandalizing" these sites, I realize now that in some ways it represents a "living tradition." They remind me of the continued use of inuksuit in northern Canada -- initially started by the aboriginal peoples (and maybe representing a circumpolar tradition) and extended by modern hikers as a common custom. Here's another one on the Geilmyrren above Vanvikan in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway, almost certainly recent:
While I would agree that the majority of the rock piles and other structures we look at in the eastern US are pre-European, they do exist in Europe, though they differ in materials, environment, and usage. In both places, we can accept that they are not strictly pre-modern. As I mentioned though, I wonder if some of the truly prehistoric ones may represent a circumpolar native tradition, with roots in the earliest migrations,  worth examining.

Here's some other stuff, maybe of interest:
There were reindeer wandering around here, in the Døvrefell:
and some older ones, about 6500 BP, in petroglyphs (in Norwegian, halleristninger) near Stjørdal:

Petroglyphs at Bardal (near Steinkjer, Norway). This site (6000 - 3500 BP) is very cool, and probably represents a transition from stone-age to bronze-age customs:
Helgeshaugen, a standing stone and burial mound (c. 600 AD), also near Steinkjer. Part of a much larger assemblage :

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Stone Pile in California

Curtis Hoffman writes:
I’ve been reading Richard Burrill’s “Ishi’s Untold Story in His First World”.  This is an extraordinarily meticulous and detailed account of the famous Yahi Indian who spent his last years as a museum display in San Francisco.  It contains an account by Bryan Beavers, a member of the Konkow band of the Maidu tribe, concerning the persons Burrill thinks are likely Ishi’s mother and father.  The mother was captured as a girl during a Yahi raid, and when she came of age was married to a Yahi man.  The account, from an unpublished Masters thesis by John Duncan III, “How to Catch a Sleeping Fish”, reads as follows:
“And she told this man she was married to, ‘I been with your people long time’ and she said ‘I’d like to go back to my people for a while.’
“And so evidently he was a pretty good one, ‘cause he told her, he said, ‘All right, you been my people for a long time.  I’ll go back and be your people.’  So they came through near Butte Meadows and above Stirling City, and come through walkin’.  And come up here to Dogwood.  That big camp there.
“But they come there, and there were lots of Indians then, you know, oh, lots of ‘em.  Soon as he got there, why he told ’em, he said, ‘I want to be your people.’
“And they said, ‘No. You gotta go back. She’s gonna stay but you gotta go back.’
“He didn’t want to , but they took him.  They took him up on top of the hill there, pretty near the top of that hill on the old Indian trail.  And there’s a big flat rock that only projects up out ‘a the ground a foot and a half or so and it’s flat on top.  And quite big.  They laid him on there and they took rocks and pounded his fingers and his toes and just kept poundin him like that until they killed him.  Mashed him.  Broke his arms.  Until they mashed him.  And they throwed him down the hill and they throwed some rocks on him, you know.
“Until everybody that came along by that place on the trail would always pick up a rock and throw it on there.
“And someday I’m going to go back over there and see if I can find that place and see if the skeleton is in there.  Something in there, see.  I know everybody throw a rock on there until late years.  He’s by the trail, but I don’t know if I can find the trail anymore.  It’s all grown over, you see.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Really Great Photos- "Peopling the Americas"

Photo above from:

"Garrett's work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, and in Egypt, Cuba, and Japan. It has also been published in SmithsonianAir and SpaceArchaeology,FortuneForbesTimeLifeAudubonGEONational Wildlife, and Natural History. His corporate clients include IBM, the Marriott Corporation, UNC Aviation, and Starbucks Coffee. Garrett lives in Broad Run, Virginia, with his wife, Lucie, and their daughters, Kate and Julie."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Fire Pit" from Northfield

Reader Mike Leonard writes:
As a forester in my own business, I run across quite a few interesting stone monuments.

Update: Dennis Dee writes:
The picture shown is similar to one I found in Woodstock CT. except mine is caved in. The location is near the old Hatchet Pond Reservation.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Saving the land, preserving the cairns

From the Woodstock Times (via the NEARA bulletin board): click here

Monday, July 08, 2013

Thick stone wall -Stirling

I took a walk a few weeks ago with nothing too much to show for it. For example, the question of whether this is a structure?
Or if this thick wall is special?:
And noticing some quartz (note the position of the fallen log beyond):
And under the log, notice the shallow dish.
Not sure what to make of that. The wall soon lost its thickness and went back to being a more normal single rock thickness.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Stones of Dogtown

Norman Muller writes:

I bought a neat little book by Mary Gage titled The Stones of Dogtown & Beyond: Dogtown to Poole Hill. ....  The descriptions of various historic and ancient Indian features are short and to the point, the photos are sharp, and maps at the end of the booklet are informative.  I bought the book because I want to see the fascinating and important pedestaled boulder in Dogtown and didn’t know where it was or how to get to it.  The book tells me how, and points out other Indian stone features along the way.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Baker Brook - Fitchburg

I do have one more site to report, from last weekend. You may have seen my "The key to NE Fitchburg". Well I went out to the first of the places, behind the Fitchburg baseball field, walked into the woods following the brook upstream. Not seeing anything I headed uphill slightly and hit rock piles on the first terrace level above the brook (middle blue outline, above).

Now there is not much to see. A rainy day in the darkened woods means blurry pictures.
These are old piles but there is a pattern here- of a larger boulder with rocks (fallen off?) to the side. I know I wrote about that somewhere....ah here. I believe this is an early form of "rock pile with hollow". So there were maybe five ten piles in this group.

Saw an interesting arrangement of white feldspar pieces:

A bit like this:

I proceeded upstream but also uphill, diagonally. I was thinking "well sometimes you find rock piles part way up a hill". Sure enough, I hit another pocket of rock piles up against Northfield/Fisher Rd. [Later I verified the piles are easily visible from a passing car.] Slightly larger piles, more lousy pictures. First glimpse (with bug on lense):

Again, a large rock with smaller rocks to the side. Getting closer to looking like a rectangle with a hollow but still an old form. I have several pictures, mostly blurry. Here is a small one with a bit of white feldspar:

This is by no means shapeless. Here is another, very much starting to look like a rock pile with hollow (shadowed by another bug on the lense):

In this group the piles seemed to mostly have a piece or pieces of white feldspar or quartz. In fact, the whole group of piles was concentrated around a quartz outcrop.

 The outcrop:
I suspect the quartz in the pile came from right here.

Here there is a stone wall in the background and a road
Not much to see:

For some reason, this was my favorite, can't see why:
There were some nice chunks of feldspar/quartz:

A classic example (and lousy photo of) this form of pile:
You see the larger rock, the sense of hollow, the white rock (right rear).

After this, I explored in the section of woods, north of the road. I stayed up on the hill where I saw nothing, and the underbrush was too thick for me down near the brook, so I turned around and headed downstream back the way I came. Passed back through the first cluster of piles, saw another small cluster (lowest blue outline on map). Headed out well satisfied.