Thursday, May 28, 2020

Encountering familiar local Middlesex County names West of Chicago

Following the idea that rivers west of Chicago flowing into the Mississippi were busy travel corridors, I was looking for the obvious places to hike and explore for rock piles. Interestingly I immediately came across some old friends:

Both places look worth visiting. Sure looks like our guys went out there too, so I would expect rock piles there.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mother Earth

(Peterborough Ontario)

Norman Muller writes:
Being confined mostly inside for the past two months has given my mind freedom to roam, and recently I have been looking at photos I have taken plus those I have not, and have noticed a similarity among them: mainly that splits, cracks, and V- or U-shaped formations have female connotations, since the Earth, after all, gives birth to all kinds of life forms.  

In the Anza Borrego Desert in California, one of the Indian tribes took a formation with a deep crack and carved the stone around it to resemble a female vagina (1st image).  The same occurred at the Empie site in Arizona, where cracks were fashioned to resemble female labia (2nd image).  At a site in Rochester, Vermont, we have a split boulder with a phallus-shaped rock inserted in the crack (3rd image).  Further north, in Peterborough, Ontario, we have the area around a crack in the limestone bedrock pecked to resemble a woman menstruating (4th image: the color of the stone around the vagina is red).  

In the article attached below about the "Terraced Boulder Site" in Pennsylvania, I illustrate some natural "V" and "U" shaped formations in outcrops filled with stones, again emphasizing the female nature of the form.  Was filling the shape with stones to complete the female image a practice reserved for women of the Indian tribes to make them more fertile?  It is impossible to tell.  But there is little doubt in my mind that the enhancement of these shapes was not purient to the Indians who created them, but simply a ritual to enhance Mother Earth.

Anza Borrega:

Empie Petroglyph Site, AZ:
Rochester VT, Site R7-6:

OSL Dating of the Oley Hills Site - Norman Muller

In the current issue of North American Archaeologist (Vol 41(1), 33-50, 2020), is the article “Optically stimulated luminescence dating of a probable Native American cairn and wall site in Eastern Pennsylvania.”  The article was coauthored by James Feathers, director of the Luminescence Dating Laboratory at the University of Washington, and by Norman Muller, retired art conservator at the Princeton University Art Museum.  The site in question is the Oley Hills site in eastern Pennsylvania, which Muller has been studying since 1997.  In 2018, two small cobbles of gneiss were removed in complete darkness from the Terrace, the largest built feature at the site, and sent to Feathers for analysis.  In 2020 he determined that the two cobbles were placed around 2570 ± 330 B.P., which is within the Adena period.  This is the first time that direct dating of stone by OSL has been applied to any of the numerous cairn and wall sites in the northeastern U.S.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Anyone still up in the Acton area exploring new woods?

If there is, I wonder if you could take a look at the woods west of Flushing Hill in Westford.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My little argument with NEARA and the goal of site protection

It has been the policy of my writing and publishing to expose sites to the public under the general rule that knowledge will protect sites better than secrecy. Whether or not to publish site locations is a matter that used to be discussed regularly at NEARA meetings I attended - conferences and board of directors' meetings. But the NEARA default was that sites should be kept secret. Anyone wanting to get access to the site locations might be able to, by attending field trips or by visiting the organization's library. But publications by NEARA, like archeological publications often do, tried to avoid discussing site locations. So, although it was discussed over and over, the default policy was to keep site locations a secret. Deferring the discussion meant continuing the default.

My disagreement with NEARA runs deeper and relates to whether it is alright to discuss Native American burial mounds. I observe that many sites have what appear to be burial mounds. Having that in mind helps one get a sense of what is going on with different features of the site. But aside from the potential to get some understanding of a place, burial sites already have very strong legal protection. So determining that a site is likely to be a burial site is the best way to get a site protected.

It cannot be good to pretend these sites are something else, so I cannot agree with NEARA about keeping locations secret and censoring discussion of burials.

Someday it would be interesting to study some of NEARA's most famous failures. The site at Pratt Hill was bulldozed by a landowner angry about all the trespassing by NEARA members. The site at Burnt Hill was monopolized by a NEARA "director" and taken away from the community. The site never received any legitimate "research" and may have gotten damaged over the years. Who knows?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Quartz Levanna point with broken tip

Reader Joshua writes:

I found this on the side of the sidewalk on the grass and dirt near a river with dozens of quartz flakes buried next to it.  It was found in South Kingstown, Rhode Island a few days ago while walking near the center of town.