Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This week's discoveries much like the last

I continue with the hunting strategy of finding navigable brooks with tributaries leading up hill to where the water first begins to flow. This "where the water meets the sky" has been a good strategy. Perhaps it is leading me to see more of one kind of site that another - biasing the reports towards that kind of site. At least in northern parts, I hope to find larger rectangular mounds with hollows at this sort of place. But the last several weeks I have been finding marker piles. I followed the strategy to some sites in Sherborn. This weekend the strategy worked in Princeton, west of Wachusett; and also in Townsend. So I have three other marker pile sites at the tops of brooks. Interestingly, the individual rock piles, west of Wachusett, were shaped differently, but the site layout is familiar.
Here from Princeton:
 Compare with Sherborn.

Arrowhead finds 2016

     I have been spending lots of time looking for arrowheads. I haven't posted most of my 2016 finds because they are not much to show, mostly quartz fragments. There is, however, still some information to be gleaned from these. I have found stone tools and pieces of tools at 7 sites in 2016. Sites 1 and 2 are close to each other and sites 3 through 6 are very close to each other. Here are all my finds from this year from each site, not including items I found this weekend. Some of these finds have already been posted here but most have not.
     Site 1. A broken pink felsite triangle, an argillite triangle, a felsite tool of some kind, broken quartz triangles.
     Site 2. A broken stemmed point made of rhyolite, a broken quartz triangle, a quartz scraper.
     Site 3 is mostly broken quartz stemmed points. The crude quartz item on the bottom row second from right is the only mostly intact artifact, this may have been a knife or preform.
     Site 4. Badly broken quartz fragments.
     Site 5. Broken triangular quartz tools.
     Site 6 is mostly more of the same.
     Site 7 is a small place where I found the base of a stemmed quartz projectile point.
     It rained this weekend. I returned to some spots to see what might have popped up. I had some luck and found a few decent artifacts. Here are items from Site 4. There is a nice triangle here. I would call this a Squibnocket Triangle. I believe most of these quartz artifacts that I find are from the Archaic period.
     I found these yesterday in several hours of careful searching at Site 3. It had just rained and it was overcast and foggy. Perfect conditions. By the end of the day I was covered in mud. There is nothing spectacular here but I didn't leave feeling disappointed. I acknowledge that I am lucky to be able to find anything at all.
     These would have been very nice if they were not broken.
     The best of this weekend's finds for me. The stemmed point second from right is my favorite. It is made of crystal quartz and is very clear and glassy. The material is fantastic. I don't have many like this. It's also thin and nicely made. The stemmed point next to it is crude and chunky.

Old stone cairns of northern Berks County and southern Lehigh County are a mystery

 From "Berks County" via reader Jeff R:
Old stone cairns of northern Berks County and southern Lehigh County are a mystery

Monday, May 30, 2016

Lady Slipper Time

New England's most visible orchid.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Into oblivion

     This spring, I returned to several places where I once found arrowheads only to find mountains of dirt and fill and new foundations for new homes. No original ground surface remains. Those sites have been destroyed and are gone forever.
     Most of my arrowheads are from southeastern Massachusetts. This area is being developed at an incredible rate. I realize that at some point I may see houses going up in every place where I once spent hours slowly searching for traces of Stone Age man.
     Last night Dave and I took a short walk by some new foundations in a place that we knew had been documented as a site where artifacts were found in the past. Heaps of fill covered most of the ground and there was only a small area that still looked like the disturbed remnant of what was the original ground surface. Few rocks were visible but Dave spotted this and I was really jealous.

     Developers plan this construction, local politicians approve it, construction workers carry it out. How many of them realize what is lost when places like this are bulldozed? How many would ever care?
     Few archaeologists conduct excavations anymore, preferring to leave sites in the ground for the future. A noble idea- but when the future comes, how many sites will be left?

Friday, May 27, 2016

A small featurless site, Brush Hill Sherborn

I described a site at the lower blue outline here. I also found rock piles at the upper blue outline, downhill and west of where the power lines cross Perry St. Here, along the edge of the swamp was a messy scatter of piled rocks. Sometimes they would separate and group up into what was an identifiable rock pile, then the mess continued - following along the edges of the wet area. Finally the piles got better formed and started to be evenly spaced and in lines. And then there were two parallel lines of evenly spaced piles forming a bit of a "grid". So it sort of became a marker pile site at one end.
This gives a good idea:
Nothing much to see. But I followed it along for a few paces thinking it was at least a deliberate construction of some kind:
What are we looking at here?
In the end, with piles like this:
It certainly qualifies as a "rock pile" site. And at this end, it is starting to show some inter-pile arrangement:
And some piles with outline structure:
We have seen things like this before. At Borderland State Park, at Birch Hill (NH), and in Acton. Pretty much everywhere. The last picture, with an outline and a larger rock to the side, is certainly familiar.
I have a "principle" which may be useful or not. It says:
The more widespread a pattern is the older it is. 
Accordingly, this is an old site for an observable reason and a theoretical one: it is decrepit and its patterns are widespread.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A wall anomaly

This looks rather intentional:
Any theories? (Same part of Brush Hill as previous post).

A simple ceremonial site - Northwestern Brush Hill, Sherborn

On a slope above a wetland, a few rock piles scattered around a boulder:
That's what a simple site looks like. This one is from west of Hunting Rd.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reader Linda writes:

I enjoy your site very much. I've checked in for years. I'm from Massachusetts and I'm happy to say my back hill in Monson is sprinkled with megaliths and covered with many interesting stones. There is one very large megalith with the most interesting features of all, which includes cupmarks, white quartz blocks that circle the stone, and other interesting features.

There are also what appear to be lintels, about half a dozen, one of them a two-tiered lintel - photos attached. I started digging a smaller one out and it does have sides as you'd expect from a cave entrance. And here's a link to many more photos - I'd love to know what you think!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Aboriginal Alpine Ceremonialism in the White Mountains, California

"At 3,609 m. (11,840 ft.) elevation in the White Mountains of Eastern California is a site containing 216 rock features consisting of cairns, pits, and other stacked-rock constructions but very few artifacts. Two obsidian bifaces, two milling tools, and lichenometric dating point towards site occupation between 440 and 190 cal B.P., contemporaneous with the White Mountains Village Pattern, which was marked by intensive seasonal occupations of multi-family groups in the alpine ecozone of the range. Though the site’s features are similar to facilities associated with artiodactyl hunting across the American West, their diversity, abundance, and distribution are more consistent with ceremonially-oriented sites on the Plains, in the Mojave Desert, and especially on the Plateau. This, in conjunction with the site’s setting, suggests that there were ritual functions associated with the site, and that the ceremonial use of high-altitudes has been overlooked in the region’s research history."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hopping Brook is under threat of development

The site I have been reporting on here and here had some orange surveyor's flags. It is confirmed that these are from development planning.

Day of Rememberance - Nolumbeka

From the Nolumbeka project:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hopping Brook in Holliston - part two

Continuing from here. I went to a lower "Hopping Brook Rd 2", parked again and walked in past a sandpit to an entrance to the woods.
Again I was drawn to the left and upward (upper blue outline):
I spotted a rock pile beyond the wall:
Going over there, I entered an area of many small rock piles:

They continued up the hillside:
 Some with vertical sides:
 Some in a line, evenly spaced:
This is called a "marker pile" site. It partakes of the ruler, grid, and calendar. The component rocks are large:
And it seemed the higher on the hill, the taller the piles. Perhaps they were to be viewed from below.
Some artistic experiments:

Arctic Cairns

From Norman Muller:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cleaning up after surveying

The more I think about it the more I think those orange flags at Hopping Brook are an example of what we discussed in March here - rock enthusiasts littering a site with their survey flags. No one seemed to want to follow through on the need for guidelines but I believe the topic should still be open for debate.
Update: I was wrong. These flags represent a threat of development.

What really happened here?

From the Nolumbeka Project:

The origin of the word "goof" and "goofing"

I just read on the internet that the origin of this word "goofing" is not known. Well let me tell you internet: you should bone up on your Wampanoag vocabulary. In a history of Woods Hole or, near abouts, a book on the Falmouth tribes, it said that goofing meant "to speak with the spirits through a hole in the stone wall."

Hopping Brook in Holliston - part one

Jim P took me to this place long ago but I had forgotten where it was. From the modern and recent flagging, it appears it is known to the public now. A very significant site. 
I remember when we first looked at it, my father, Mary Gage and I. And this pile did not make any sense:
 (other side)
I set out on Saturday to explore this hill because it looked worthwhile, down there in Holliston near a large brook. 
I parked where the cross-hair is on the map, just left of the lower blue outline, at the end of the highest office park road; and walked east beneath the power lines and stepped into a woods thick with small saplings. Saw the first of several small, double chambered rock piles and...
... had just spotted another when I got distracted by the large one shown above. I'll come back to the larger pile later. Here was what I spotted:
Note the orange flag on a small pile, and the larger one behind. [I think this might be an example of rock pile enthusiasts surveying and not cleaning up after themselves. Does any one know anything about surveying at Hopping Brook? Flagging at a small pile is suspicious.] 
Closer up:
 There are several hollows, I cannot remember the arrangement.
A small pile nearby:
A"satellites" of the larger mounds. Back to the larger mound. Next to it was some water and other satellites:
and here is a closeup of the large pile:
 Again I see an orange flag.
Today when I look at this it is not so confusing. Although it is messy, you could make out a number of smaller enclosures around a central rectangle within a retaining wall. In one place the retaining wall was as wide as the separate enclosures. Something like this:

I think those hollows are from the collapsing of inner chambers. This big mound would be large enough to hold a hundred people. It is interesting that it is only a few feet high. It is pretty unique. To put speculation on top of speculation: what causes a hundred people to die? 
Let's look at more of the mid-sized mounds with two or so hollows. These are a more common sight north of here.

Ah! to see this looming:

A little higher on the hill, this beauty:
There appear to be little hollows all the way around a central mound. It seemed the piles were taller now. I was higher on this hill. I am sure thorough exploration of this whole valley would find many others in different conditions. It would be a great place to study. 
Here was a square wall bulge:

 Here was an isolated cluster of two or three ground piles (meaning they are lost in the soil):

Then back to the power lines and a wall with a couple of smaller piles up against it:

You could think someone had been here goofing around.