Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Why I am Skeptical of the LiDar Research in New England

     How many early New England histories begin with the comments about the Indigenous fire-tended landscape? How fire-proof is a "stone wall?" How protective, and in how many ways, are those eco-tones surrounded by, when you look closely, Serpent Effigies made of smaller stone effigies, smaller effigies still making minor adjustments and maintaining hundreds of thousands of rows of stones still visible on the landscape?
       "By the Law of Parsimony," asks my friend Sherlock Stones, "who was more likely to have had the time and motivation to build those rows of stones - Indigenous People over thousands of years or Post Contact predominately European agriculturalists over barely three hundred??"

    Brian Jones, the Connecticut State Archaeologist: “New England was settled 13,000 years ago...(t)he post-colonial period in New England, from 1620 to the present, represents only 3% of this time span...97% of the (human) history of southern New England seems to be missing...”
     The “Golden Age of Stone Wall Building” is focused on an even smaller time frame, the end of the American Revolutionary War for Independence up to about 1875 when barbed wire was invented, a brief window of about 100 years, here in what is now known as New England. LiDar is being used to investigate these thousands and thousands of rows of stones thought to be evidence of farmsteads of the post-colonial time period:

      For example: “This is an ongoing research project to understand how people have shaped the history and development of southern New England’s landscape. Although the landscape reached the height of agricultural use in the early 19th century, much of that land has now become reforested, obscuring cultural features beneath the forest. LiDAR allows us to identify and analyze cultural landscape features and interpret them within a broader historical, geographical, and archaeological context to understand the human impact on the landscape’s history and development.”

     "An imaginative investigator might just take some time to consider what Brian Jones has written above," says Sherlock, "especially concerning the “wild foods” harvested by “hunter-gathers.” Add the practice of burning the landscape to promote productivity of the plants, which promotes the growth of animal and human populations. An imaginative researcher might look for cultural clues in the stonework, learn to observe the snakes and turtles, as well as all the other Native American Iconography contained in those Ceremonial Stone Landscape features whose beauty, once you learn to see it, is so much more than “disposal of stones.”
   I’ve delved a little into a few places where I have acquired LiDar images, field checking and making observations here and there.
If I am looking at zigzag rows of stones, I need to wonder why does it suddenly stop being an accumulation of field clearing stones against a wooden Snake Fence, as every stone wall book will tell you - then suddenly turn linear, supposedly stones tossed under a cross and rail fence??  

What if the stone wall ends in a snake head-like stone (white dot in inset)?
Perhaps I should say, "It begins with a stone that could be said to resemble a snake head...
Grinning Shape-Shifter Great Serpent:

The "backbone" of the hillside, not many steps away: 
More Serpent Overlays here:

Another row of stones, also visible in the LiDar image:

It is sometimes difficult to get good details and I wish this place came through clearer:

Publications related to this (UCONN) project:

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