Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Mt Elam Leominster

There has always been too much to post from this place. For example:

The ladies from Harvard:

and of course much more.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sunsh Nipamu (west of Kinkiyungkwallak)

 "sunś nip├ímu (‘marker stone’ Narragansett, Harris and Robinson 2015:140, viz. sunś, ‘stone,’ nipawu ‘stand up,’ Mohegan Nation 2004:100, 83) 

"This free-stading Sunsh Nipamu (west of Kinkiyungkwallak)
 is just under 2m tall, over 1/3m wide, with ancient lichens covering its top."

A Quantitative Assessment of Stone Relics in a Western Massachusetts Town
copyright 2017, Rolf Cachat-Schilling (2016 Massachusetts Archaeological Society)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Failure to Publish - by Tommy Hudson

Tommy Hudson replies to the POOF article [from previous]:

In his article on "The People of One Fire" site, Mr. Thornton says "....I can tell you first hand, it is impossible to protect Native American heritage sites, if you don't know where they are." I assume he includes sites such as the Track Rock Gap stone piles, where he brought it to national attention on a TV show, and published it on the internet. It could be very difficult to protect Native American heritage sites, particularly if he knows where they are.

I will say up front, that we should be careful about making site locations public. We should verify the intentions of the people who want to know. That said, Mr. Thornton's point is not the point. Unfortunately for him, he is only chipping away at the tip of the iceberg. The main reason why no information is published, is that there is no information to publish! Those whom I call 'The High Priests of Southeastern Archaeology', and that would include Kelly, Larson, et al, dug up hundreds of sites and never reported on them. It is the Achilles Heel of the archaeological community. The information on the vast majority of sites was never published. You're lucky if there are a few notes or photographs. It's more fun to dig them up than to write about them!

As an example, go to the Alabama website that is linked through this article. Go to "Archaeological Survey in Talladega County, Alabama." You will find that Mr. Lewis H. Larson Jr. excavated 33 sites and wrote a grand total of 4 pages on all that work. This is the same Lewis Larson that did years of excavations at Etowah Mounds. In the early Sixties, my Father and I took a Greyhound bus to Cartersville, Georgia, then a taxi out to the Etowah Mounds site to witness those excavations. It's a nationally famous site. To date, I have found 3 brief articles written by Mr. Lewis H. Larson Jr. on the Etowah Mound excavations. There's a grand total of 17 pages. Huh? Is that right, you say? That's right. A good portion of the site is destroyed and most of that information is gone, but hey, we got 17 pages. Sad.

If you or I were to go to an archaeological site and dig it up, take away artifacts, never publish information on what you found, and only talk about the site amongst your peers, we would be called looters. That's right folks, and the American people paid for it.

So why doesn't the archaeological community police it's own, like other professions? The reason is called "peer fear." They would rather be known as cowards and hypocrites than to be shunned by their peers. It's really that simple. People that hold themselves out as professional and ethical archaeologists, and had vocally complained to me, in private, about the problem, sat silent when I brought the issue up in very public meetings. The verbiage "cowards and hypocrites" is appropriate.

The latest crop who hold themselves out as professional and ethical archaeologists, is still out there. Most of what is published these days, if it's published at all, is archaeological 'boiler plate', such as the ancient forest was this, and the ancient weather was that, soils, streams, blah, blah, blah. Cut and paste. Not an original thought to be had. Spare me.

Don't get me wrong, there is some very good work being done out there. Jannie (pronounced 'Yannie') Loubser comes to mind. There are archaeologists who actually put some thought and research into what they publish.

Why not withhold 10% to 20% of public money until a report is issued. A report that has been peer reviewed, and most importantly, reviewed by members of the informed public and Indians themselves?

So, while Mr. Thornton, is arguing with the system about his lack of access to site information, he failed to notice that oft mentioned "elephant in the room" that's still there. Let's look a little closer. There is no information. The issue is ''failure to publish.''

U of Alabama Archeology Map Website - and words of wisdom from "People of One Fire"

Richard Thornton writes [here] about the U of Alabama Website.

To access the web site, click this URL link:   Alabama Office of Archaeological Research

[He continues:]
Why is this so important?  I can tell you first hand.   It is impossible to protect Native American heritage sites, if you don’t know where they are.  Look what happened in Oxford, Alabama!  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A curious chronology - ceremony on a modern causeways built over older stone walls

The second (possible) mound made of soil was at 'A' (see previous post). From 'A' I went up to 'B' where you touch the edge of a site (at 'E') which I knew about and was saving for last. Meanwhile I wanted to get down into that ditched swamp to have a look around. Around 'C' I was enjoying the openings through the old stone walls, and did see a couple piles near one such opening.


What was most interesting, though, was the topography of the ditched swamp. Here, some machine had dug 5-8 foot deep trenches through the wetland, throwing the removed dirt and soil up in a bank running alongside each ditch. It must have been a substantial effort but, since it remains a rock swamp, why drain it? Could it affect a water level somewhere else? I don't know.
So here we are looking at a causeway built across the area, rising above the lower ditch (on the left) and slightly above the original ground level - as visible in a bit of older stone wall.
Note that in the foreground on top of the causeway is a ceremonial structure.
It is a 'U', usually taken to be kind of prayer seat. But the causeway came after the stone wall and the 'U' must have come after the causeway. So it is a distinctly modern structure.
View in the other direction (you can just see another pile):
So, here is a little ceremonial site built after a machine trenched the whole area. Not sure why it was trenched, not sure who would come later and build these two structures. Up at 'E' the integration of wall with pile indicates an earlier stage of ceremony. I'll just show one picture:
You can check out 'E' yourself or read my previous, somewhat fanciful, account:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Another rectangular mound with hollow made from soil?

I thought these were rare [last weekend] but maybe they are just hard to see:
There is a rock pile at the back corner but you can see a square of raised soil with a depression in the middle.

Monday, May 15, 2017


Lithic Finds

With all the rain, still not much:
The base of a broken quartz arrowhead, and a little "graver" from argillite. I think the "beak of the bird" is deliberate, given how the edge is worked.
I believe this is a complete item.
You can see how the surface is softened and smoothed from contact with something - presumably a person's fingers:
It was being worn down to a stub.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Phillips Hill, Hudson MA

I have been over here before but not to this hill or, in particular, its southern parts. Parked on Rt 85, went in and turned left (south) intending to look around that little pond you see on the map. When I got to the place circled in blue, I thought: "well this would be the place...where are the rock piles?". Here was one:
But I was disappointed to not see any rectangular mounds with hollows. Since this is the headwater of some brook (I could not figure out which one, as it seems to have been buried underneath downtown Hudson). Anyway, in the end I was not disappointed: there was only one mound and it was made of soil, not rocks.
As fine an example as you could hope to see:
No that is not a house foundation - there is water at the bottom of the hole.
And nearby, at the edge of the water:

There was also another lobe of land just to the east that also looked out over the pond. It seemed too well visited to spend time examining but this did catch my eye:

Then I headed sharply uphill, skirting the end of a road and found marker piles all the way up the slope and some older looking "rectangles" on the flat summit/shoulder looking out to the south.
For example on the slope:

Further up (note some of the details here: the larger rock, the cashew shaped smaller rock, the swirl of schist):

We are still climbing the hill and the trail goes right through the rock piles. [How many hikers have ever noticed? Zero?]
This is much more than I expected to squeeze out of a small bit of the landscape - so near Hudson and at the edge of an area - around Marlboro and Southboro (and all those "boros") - that is a real dead zone for finding rock piles. Let me digress to say that this dead zone may be due to the fact that the towns around Marlboro are sandy. But I wonder about a cultural divide that separates Nashoba and Upper Middlesex (my version of Thoreau's Estabrook) from the towns around Holliston, Hopkinton, and Upton (we could call them the "tons") where the ceremonial stonework could be seen as different. I am not sure if it is different enough to support the idea of a cultural divide. I am not sure the Nashua and Merrimack watersheds are different from the watersheds that drain more to the south, nor if these differences are a projection; nor if those places have enough uniformity within themselves to be characterized this way. Yet I think there is a difference.

Ah! Here we are on the southern end of the summit:
I think this next one is a different, older kind of rectangle, with a double "hollow".
These are exactly the sorts of things that I am not sure I see much of - further south in the "tons". But Scott Reservoir, Cowassock Woods, Briar Ridge Rd Acton, maybe Kezar Hill? And the stuff about "lazy 9".
You can see why I think it counts as a "rectangle" and there is a hint of inner wall dividing it in two. There was at least one other similar thing up there, I did not get good pictures:
And a bit east around the side of the hilltop, some more marker pile-like items:
A lot more than I expected to find. Clearly those hills were crucial real estate for ceremony:

Monday, May 08, 2017

Rectangular Mound with a Hollow - made from Dirt

A rectangular donut with water in the hole:
It is rare to see something made of dirt and gravel without obvious larger stones, in a place where plenty of larger stones were available. From Danforth Falls Cons. Land in Hudson, as far south as you can get.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Odds and Ends from Nutting Rd Groton

Right at the end of the drive-able road, the actual hill of "Smoke Hill" had a site on its southern side. A few things from there. Perhaps a collapsed niche:
A crossed pair, with light coming through the hole:
Here, something was built into the outcrop:
(something with a couple of hollows)
Oh yeah, did I forget to post this video? It is pretty interesting - from the low wet area between Smoke Hill and Rocky Hill:
Here is a photo, that may be clearer. It is some kind of pathway or channel. I guess it might re-direct overflow back into the main stream:
This was no more than a hundred yards from the bowl with gurgling cascades I reported the other day.