Monday, March 01, 2010

Taking apart a rock pile without taking it apart

I’ve been thinking about “Taking apart a rock pile without taking it apart.” Studying something with out destoying it. Looking outward rather than inward

Or maybe I’ve been thinking about studying a petroform in its context to the larger cultural landscape, paying attention to what may be not only a rare view of a Late Woodland Village, but an incredible amount of remnants of the Native American Stonework that still exists in and around it.

Bear Stone Petrform(April 2009 photo TMS)

I’m looking in a field guide to stones in New England that says a boulder is larger than 256 mm or about 10 inches. A cobble is defined as less than a boulder but more than 125 mm or 5 inches. Here is a stone concentration composed of a large boulder that might be a glacial erratic, but also possibly placed there by more than one person (although I know that a clever person could do it alone), another boulder and a cobble. The large boulder is four times as long as it is wide so it might be a boulder fence or part of one that has elsewhere disappeared but it is inside the riparian zone of a swamp that drains both north and south that is bordered by zigzag stone boulders on both banks in both directions. The second boulder is a quartzite stone, which seems to resemble a large animal head. I mistook it at first as a cow skull when I first saw it in 1997. Possibly the stone was humanly enhanced to more resemble a bear, which is my impression of which animal it might be. Besides the enhancement of ursine features – and a nice “natural” diagonal streak of lighter color across the face of the stone – there is also a hole pecked on top of the head stone.
  And it seems important to mention: the bear's head is balanced on the boulder. It will rock for awhile if you touch it...
 The cobble has multiple pit marks or cups on its upper most surface, angled toward a concave side that just happens to be curved inward enough for a person to place a quahog shell, perhaps in which tobacco has been placed, on the boulder surface below it and have it stay in place. If I chose to take my drill type fire starter with me, I could take some balled up and fuzzy cedar and place it over those cup marks, feel around for one of them with my Sangwhikan and get some fire going on the cedar tinder. I could breathe on it to get it going – even if it rolled down the stone into the shell. If I wanted to, I could put that shell on top of the bear’s head where it would neatly click into place, just as easily as it did the first time I tried it after reading Gladys Tantaquidgeon in "Folk Medicine of the Delaware and Related Algonkian Indians (1972,1995)" (pg. 60): "Wild animals, as pointed out by F.G. Speck (1931: 28-29), are in general considered to exist in clan relationship with humans. The latter are said to be "kings among animals." Clean pure animals of the forest are referred to in terms of human relationship and their spirits must be propitiated before they can be sought for food. If the supernaturals are appeased through sacrifices, the animals will allow themselves to be taken, but if the proper ceremonies are not carried out, they can never be approached by humans. Therefore, a hunter is obliged to pray and sacrifice tobacco before starting on the hunt...

The Delaware consider the bear and deer to be the greatest of all animals. The bear is also called "Our Grandfather." Both animals are considered closely akin to the Indian, but the Delaware believe that the bear has the most human-like traits..."
To the south of this stone concentration, this petroform is another, lower to the ground but greatly resembling a deer, the other “greatest of all animals.”

Cross an interesting historic ‘stone ford” to the north of the petroform, and the stream, and its zigzag borders, lead to other streams with similar stonework and eventually these streams become diverted to flow around an area of land where a local history documents stone burial mounds before joining itself again – along with a stream that originally flowed into it that not far away flows over a series of waterfalls. On that little “island” that may well be the burial grounds, is also a stone concentration of boulders, that may function as a “medicine wheel,” a place to center yourself in the Universe, but that’s another petroform story…

1 comment:

  1. The correct year of the find was 1996.