Friday, March 21, 2014

The Madison "Whodunnit?" Continues

      Continuing, the next day, from:, wondering if I can actually keep up the analogies and court room metaphors (compounded with deciding against actually revisiting the site in real life and getting some better photo images – we’ll instead have to suppose that the judge will caution the Defense for using such poor quality photos as evidence):

     The Cultural Scene Investigation ("CSI Madison" in the TV version) team tries to deduce the former historical usage of the area in question. The oldest available aerial photography is from 1934:
     It is greatly suspected that the area was not plowed, owing to the rocky nature of the land and the availability of floodplain fields that were prime targets of early Anglo-European acquisition since they had already been used by Indigenous People as, and here again is a little cultural bias, horticultural fields. As Dr. Lavin writes: “Planting activities are called “horticulture” rather than “agriculture” in Native Connecticut because they were only one part of the economy, not its foundation (pg. 203), because the archeological evidence shows that the traditional seasonal rounds to collect wild plant and animal foods still continued as they had for a very long time. On the other hand, William Cronon, in Changes in the Land, does call it “an agriculture” that didn’t look orderly to Europeans “accustomed to monocultural fields,” since corn mounds were also planted with beans that grew up cornstalks as well as squashes and pumpkins that spread along the ground, discouraging weeds and retaining soil moisture. Cronon adds in not only the fact that Indigenous women, by the Late Woodland period, by doing most of the planting and gathering contributed about 75% of foodstuff, but also adds that a kind of agro-forestry had been developed, a sort of tending of what Europeans considered a “wilderness” with the use of low intensity scheduled ground fires which are very different from the wild crown fires we see on TV that our cultural bias draws to mind.
      There’s been an increase in the study of this fire maintenance by Indigenous Peoples all over the world in the last thirty years, and here on the ground in Connecticut, I sort of maintain that what have been called early colonial "dumped" stone walls may actually be carefully and artistically made Indigenous made fuel breaks to control those fires.
      And this was probably done with some Ceremony, like Renewal Ceremonies documented in Northern California (to name just one of many places). Much mention is made by many early European visitors and colonial residents of Indians using fire to keep forests and hill tops brush free for hunting as well as the occasional mention of using fire to drive game animals, something that also would involve Ceremony or ritual Hunting Magic as it is sometimes referred to.
   Perhaps an untrained but self-educated amateur like me might be called in as a witness who believes that animal effigies are a distinctive repeated pattern in Indigenous stonework, ever since coming upon what might be a Tobacco Sacrifice Stone that greatly resembles a Bear’s head (and cleverly work in the photos I took yesterday):

    And of course let me add another animal effigy on another boulder quite near (a good scientist would have measured this distance sometime between 1996 and now), quite possibly a deer head, which seems important since deer remains are very prevalent at archaeological sites, and are most often described as the animals hunted in drives (such as the one Champlain wrote about and some other guy who never actually saw one made the following famous lithograph of ):

     So let me just flop a couple images so that west is on the top of each and mash together the oldest and newest aerial images I could find of this particular place in the “Whodunnit?”
    And let me get those land use experts (all played by me actually) to state that they suspect the land was used to pasture domesticated grazing animals, such as horses and cows, oxen and sheep. These same experts suspect that the area of “pasteurization” (as one of me jokingly puts it) may have been larger or may have been wood lots – places where early colonists let pigs run loose to forage in the wild (as another of me puts it) or the Mast Forest maintained by the Indigenous People who had lived here for thousands of generations (as the one of me who read Changes in the Land, 1491 by Charles C. Mann and many other works about Cultural Landscapes argues with those other mes). We also agree we don’t really know what those funny lines are on the ’34 aerial around the present day “wood road,” probably originally a “cart path,” as those kind of experts love to call those field access roads. They show up here and there on these and other images stolen online from the CT State Library Website:

      A wider capture (looking north to south) shows more rows of stones (and many more not in rows but possibly in piles, but maybe not) that at this point haven’t been closely examined, but seem to lend a little credibility to the being out of the “plow zone:”
     And then we’ll zoom back to that “window” and the doctored image created by that amateur who claims there is a degree of artistic stacking and careful placement of stones in Indigenous stonework so that animal effigies important in their culture (and survival) are suggested by that placement (whether he knows exactly which animal it is or not), by adding in some eyes and nostrils and stuff:

     You will note that the avocational witness (sounds better than ametuer, doesn't it?) has included a clam shell (especially if you open the above image in its own window) to burn a little kinnikkinnick or tobacco mixture in at some point before taking the life of a game animal in respect – noting that the possible game drive (or run) may possibly take advantage of the afternoon sea breeze coming inland from Long Island Sound would keep the hunter upwind of the deer or other animals whose remains are most often found in archaeological sites…
    You might notice that lighter colored stone at about the 4 O’clock point of the “window” that the hunter might be looking through while concealed behind the “barricade.” The court orders an expert to examine this stone to see if it is perhaps a type of shaft abrader (or something) known to be used by the Indigenous People who lived in the area at some point in time:
(And the court recesses until next time I start writing again...)

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