Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tinder for Thought

Three PWAX photos
Peter writes, "...a curious little structure looking out over a vernal pond there. By itself, this would have been enough to tip the scales of conviction that this was a site. What do you make of this?"
Some details here struck me and reminded me of a thing or two:

The first stone arrangement I knew had to be Native American in origin, a possibly quartzite life sized bear's head balanced on a flat-topped 5 ft long boulder, had a depression pecked into it that I couldn't figure out at first, pretty certain that actual bears (or other local animals important to Indians) don't have an actual depression on the top of their heads. Eventually, I figured out that the depression was for a shell full of tobacco, and that the stone next to it was pitted from the use of a fire starting device:

 The shape of the stone also seemed to allow the smouldering tinder, probably shredded juniper bark, to be swept into the shell: 
Then the shell with the tobacco mixture (the Housatonic People's Kinnickinnck was blue lobelia, according to a Schaghticoke informant 100 years ago) was placed on top of the Bear's head. The shell actually clicked into place the first time I tried doing this (1997):
I don't think it is coincidence that many of what we've been taught to think of as stonewalls have stones placed "just so" - like this bears head - to recall an animal head. I think it is a cultural motif in the artistic stacking of stones that identifies Native American made stone rows and stone mounds as well.
A different kind of placement and pecking also occurs within 10 feet or so of Mr. Bear; this horrible photo is a nearby stone about the size of a smallish deers head:
And of course you are wondering "Where is the mandatory Turtle?"
Here you are:
Above is a found stone from 150 feet away that had rolled down into the highway below a zigzag stone row. I placed it in front of a stone in a zigzag row remnant in my yard where I removed a couple hundred years worth of humus and debris looking for feet I thought might be there, assuming the point stone of the zigzag might be a carapace stone. Lifting up the shell a few minutes ago, you can see the depression:
So I spotted a little depression in on of the stones in Peter's photo, pasted in an image of a shell in my paint program, and with apologies to Mr. Waksman for ruining a perfectly good photo, presnt it here:
The red arrow: There's a stone I came across, probably taken from one of the stone piles in my yard, behind my chicken coop, that I've slowly been removing trash and debris from over the past few years. These mounds contain numerous effigy-like stones of all sizes and sorts, many of them rather testudinate in nature and I think people have alternately been dumping trash on these mounds as well as using it as a source for other modern stone work, going back to the 1700's. 

The stone (above) is flat on one side and someone used it as a paving stone. I plucked it out of the ground not quite a year ago and have been looking at the other side. I'm not sure the stone isn't humanly worked. 

That arrow above points to a similar feature of the stone, the raised ridge along one side of it. Is that the same thing going on in Peter's photo, some diliberate chipping, softened by a couple hundred or more years of weathering? Thinking of that "Tinder Stone" that sits beside the Bear Head Stone, I wonder if this might be something similar, that scallopy edge a place to roll juniper bark to prep it for use as tinder? Are those pit marks from a fire starter drill or bow?
Adding a clam shell:
My turn to say, " What do you make of this?"

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