Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Save the Stones (Italy (NY)

From: Logging and related activities in the state's wildlife management plan have stewards of land and water asking questions
   “Work has begun. On Sunday, Rushville resident David Schewe and a group of friends took a look. Walking an area of High Tor in the town of Italy (NY), Yates County, not far from Conklin Gully, it was clear where loggers had been.
  Concerns range from runoff polluting the lake to the use of pesticides, and the disturbance of what some believe are historic and culturally significant rock formations...
   Schewe, a technology teacher at Marcus Whitman, said he is not against responsible logging. But he wants the DEC to recognize — and place off-limits to loggers — areas where he and others believe are stone structures of historical and cultural significance.
   A number of years ago, Schewe began researching and documenting these stone piles. He has pinpointed some 300 in the region. There is no proof, but he believes plenty of evidence suggests these structurally impressive rock formations, which fit patterns in size and shape, were manmade during a prehistoric period...

 Local expert weighs in on stone piles:

Kurt A. Jordan is director, Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS); and associate professor, Anthropology, American Indian and Indigenous Studies at Cornell University. He writes: "There is no question that there are large numbers of human-constructed rock piles in various areas across the Northeast; it’s quite obvious that these are cultural features rather than 'random piles of rock.' In most cases, the jury is still out on who constructed them. While there is widespread local fervor for attributing them to Native Americans, we must remember that very close to the entirety of the Northeast was farmed at one point (there is significantly more wooded area today in the Finger Lakes region than there was in 1880, or even 1920). Most of the rock piles are quite distant from known Native sites. In terms of knowing that there were people out on these landscapes, then, it is more likely that they were placed by Euro-Americans for purposes of getting the rocks out of fields, whimsy, or other reasons. But we shouldn’t be too quick to eliminate the possibility of Native construction, however.
"The vast majority of rock piles are not obvious “sites” as there is little cultural material associated with them. The origin and timing issues are difficult to resolve because archaeologists would need to find artifacts directly associated with the rock piles, and/or associated charcoal that could be radiocarbon-dated. This happens very, very rarely, which means there is no good way to determine when, or by whom, the piles were erected. Investigating rock piles is therefore extremely low on most archaeologists’ priority lists because the research process is extremely likely to be frustrating and inconclusive. There are simply many, many, many more avenues of research that are more likely to generate interesting results than rock piles.
"There is some possibility that eventually people may be able to tell who made the rock piles on the basis of their characteristics — some, for example, have asserted that construction of parallel lines represents Native construction. This type of research is not very far along and I don’t think anything definitive has come from it as of yet.

"One other possibility that hasn’t been adequately explored is that the rock piles are intercultural creations, resulting from a combination of Native and settler elements unfolding over time. This avoids the 'either/or' thinking most commonly applied when discussing rock piles. Hypothetically, I suspect this is the case for many formations."


madis senner said...

Thanks for posting this. It motivated me to contact Dave whom I have not been in contact with in over 5 years ago when we were together on Brink Hill. God to see him working to raise awareness about this issue.
With someone with a focus on geomancy the mounds do not appear to be aligned with a focus on aspects of Mother Earth. But, to get a definitive conclusion I need to see them.
Nearby Hi Tor that Dave and I write about is a special place and does need to be preserved and protected. I can find some time to work on this.
madis senner
Clarks Gully Blog

pwax said...

NAGPRA anyone?