Thursday, December 06, 2012

Mounds for the Dead

Mounds for the Dead: An Analysis of the Adena Culture
Don W. Dragoo - 1963

"Artist's reconstruction of the probable ceremony centered around the fire (Feature 6) at the top of the Cresap Mound at the beginning of the final building phase when several burials were placed on the mound surface around the fire and then covered by a thick layer of earth(Click to Enlarge)."

And a friend sends this from her I-phone (thanks Yoly): 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Turtle

...On Turtle Island.

Another one in what is now called Rhode Island:

- possibly, I mean...

Yellow Turtle(s) in WV

Yoly Molina: All Photos

(Except this Turtle Vision version:)
Note the proportions on the scutes - larger on bottom, smaller on top.
I'll guess that 12 or 13 of them are reprsented here...
 ( but she says: "Former state arch. R. W. came to my place...He said FARMERS did the stone features on my hill) 
and I think it's just a little farther from this rather well known place:
There's a rock pile or two on the property in WV:
And more:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fern Rock at Nonnewaug Falls

Just yesterday, I just happened to look up and recognize (after about 20 years of wondering where it might be) the spot William Cothren called "Fern Rock by Nonnewaug Falls." An illustrated version of his History of Ancient Woodbury included a woodcut by someone whose last name was Curtis. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Effigy Beach OR

There is growing concern over the safety of ancient native Columbia River rock art because of housing developments, vandalism and theft. In the past archaeologists tried to keep the locations secret-now there’s a new effort to actually expose the art to the public as part of an educational campaign that encourages ownership. Producer: Sean Hutchinson
First Broadcast: 2008 
Producer: Sean Hutchinson
Appeared in episode: Celilo Revealed, Effigy Beach

Sunday, November 25, 2012

He's Still Hiking

All Photos, like this one, were stolen from:

Todd Lochmoeller, the Traveler, is still hiking, out past the paths the tourists travel, out where the Ancients once lived.  I once wrote a little something thanking him for doing so and posted a photo of his of a zigzag stone row: { }. He's walking where many people once lived, different numbers at different times, sort of time travelling I imagine - and I imagine he does that because that's what I do, here where I walk, a couple thousand miles away, where many people once lived, different numbers at different times...

Having recently walked in an undeveloped Village Site in Belize, these pictures sort of made me smile:

Up in my corner of Turtle Island, there's lots more rain falling from the sky, lots more green on the ground, and lots more stone rows. There once wasn't much green 15,000 years ago as the ice sheets melted back, but by the time epidemics and war took away most of the Native People, it had greened up considerable, although every writer of every "Ancient" History, from the Pilgrims on down tells about the managed forests and plains, created by Indians burning over the landscape (for hunting purposes most say, as if that's the only thing it was about) in one sentence, then goes on and on about hardships endured in the Wilderness by early European immigrants or settlers or pioneers or what ever you want to call these people, starting with those Puritans who justified the taking of Indian Lands (and killing off people they identified as witches, but that's another story). 
Over in the Four Corners, the smartest people survived because of their knowledge of their environment, how the water flowed on the landscape, how to make the best of what was there - and how to sort of "tickle" that environment, how to manage that environment, how to divert some water, how to burn to encourage (or discourage) certain plants that were desirable food or medicine (or undesirable "weeds").
Over in "This Corner of Turtle Island," the same thing was happening, the smartest people surviving for the same reasons. When I walk around the village site here, I see the remnants of the stone rows that diverted water and contained the fires that selectively burned small sections of land and not others. I am constantly driving along roads where these stone remnants are disappearing, roads whose origins were Indian Trails, bounded on both sides by zigzag stone rows that were firebreaks when the path was burned, the path becoming an even better firebreak for the next sections that were burned on another schedule for close to one hundred reasons:

And there is Artwork in those stone rows of Indian Origin, if you care to look for it. A turtle is an easy one to make, and an easy one to see if you have the eyes. 
And it's a good Grandfather trick to make the young ones contribute:
Grandpa makes a turtle and doesn't say anything - and the little ones copy that and a stone row is begun. He makes another and so do they. The older kids laugh at the little ones and grandpa moves a big stone you wouldn't think a single person could move alone, using some stone moving tricks similar to the ones some old guys taught me, and by just raising an eyebrow when he's done, he plants the knowledge and puts out a little dare: "Betcha you can't do that."
And a few thousand years later, those stone rows add up to a few thousand miles worth of "stone walls" that people write books about and create myths about, like this one below called "The Last Word," from that corner of Turtle Island that has become the state (with a Native American name) where those pilgrims landed, claimed the Indians had no art or land boundaries, burned only as a past time, enacted fence laws that specified the height of a legal fence and - if you read any history of fence building, you'll know the earliest and most easily made fences were wooden ones - adding wooden rails over stone fire breaks, different grandfathers saying, "Yes I piled all those stones under that fence clearing that field," but probably not generating as much enthusiasm from the younger generation to follow in his footsteps and pick stones out of the field as that Grandfather with the Turtle Scheme...

The stone walls built by New England farmers helped define property lines, divide fields, woodlots and pastures, and
shape animal pens. Coincidentally, the walls may match cardinal compass points or celestial phenomena – but for
practical purposes rather than sacred. It was also common to construct cold cellars and pile surplus rocks within
pastures for later use or sale.
Some have suggested a Native American origin for these features. There is no archaeological evidence to support
this conclusion. When historians and archaeologists have researched stone walls, piles and chambers, they have
invariably demonstrated that these features are associated with the activities of European settlers and have no
Native American (or other) origin. In addition, Native American advisors have been involved in a number of excavations
and have confirmed these findings. However, archaeologists do find stone features on Native American sites,
hearths for example. But they rely on context to make the determination where, during a controlled scientific excavation,
archaeologists analyze the entire site, all artifacts associated with the feature, and its placement in the soil.
This provides the cultural and geological context needed to interpret and date the entire site.
Archaeologists also consider ethnographic and ethnohistorical information. For example, Native American oral traditions
record that people did place small stones or twigs on a sacred spot as they passed by. Over time this might
result in a small pile of pebbles, tiny cobbles, or sticks, but not large piles. Conversely there is a strong, documented
ethnohistory of stone building traditions among the European settlers of Massachusetts. Together, archaeology and
ethnohistory provide conclusive evidence that stone walls, piles and chambers are not the work of ancient cultures.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission is the guiding state agency for the protection of historic and prehistoric
properties; if you have a question regarding the significance of a stone feature, please contact them at the address
and number below.

Authors: Shaun Provencher and Tom Mahlstedt,
Office of Cultural Resources, DCR

Post Script:
Sometimes a Turtle and a Bear can appear in the same stone:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

RICHARD GREENER: The True Story Of Thanksgiving

"The idea of the American Thanksgiving feast is a fairly recent fiction. The idyllic partnership of 17th Century European Pilgrims and New England Indians sharing a celebratory meal appears to be less than 120 years-old. And it was only after the First World War that a version of such a Puritan-Indian partnership took hold in elementary schools across the American landscape. We can thank the invention of textbooks and their mass purchase by public schools for embedding this "Thanksgiving" image in our modern minds. It was, of course, a complete invention, a cleverly created slice of cultural propaganda, just another in a long line of inspired nationalistic myths.
The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a "Thanksgiving" to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians - men, women and children - all murdered...
The Pilgrims in Plymouth had a hard time for the first couple of years. While nature was no friend, their troubles were mostly their own doing. Poor planning was their downfall. These mostly city dwelling Europeans failed to include among them persons with the skills needed in settling the North American wilderness. Having reached the forests and fields of Massachusetts they turned out to be pathetic hunters and incompetent butchers. With game everywhere, they went hungry. First, they couldn't catch and kill it. Then they couldn't cut it up, prepare it, preserve it and create a storehouse for those days when fresh supplies would run low. To compensate for their shortage of essential protein they turned to their European ways and their Christian culture. They instituted a series of religious observances. They could not hunt or farm well, but they seemed skilled at praying.
They developed a taste for something both religious and useful. They called it a Day of Fasting. Without food it seemed like a good idea. From necessity, that single Day became multiple Days. As food supplies dwindled the Days of Fasting came in bunches. Each of these episodes was eventually and thankfully followed by a meal. Appropriately enough, the Puritans credited God for this good fortune. They referred to the fact they were allowed to eat again as a "Thanksgiving." And they wrote it down. Thus, the first mention of the word - "Thanksgiving." Let there be no mistake here. On that first Thanksgiving there was no turkey, no corn, no cranberries, no stuffing. And no dessert. Those fortunate Pilgrims were lucky to get a piece of fish and a potato. All things considered, it was a Thanksgiving feast.
Did the Pilgrims share their Thanksgiving meal with the local Indians, the Wampanoag and Pequot? No. That never happened. That is, until its inclusion in the "Thanksgiving Story" in 1890.
Let the Wampanoag be a lesson to us especially in these troubled economic times. These particular Indians, with a bent for colorful jewelry, had their tribal name altered slightly by the Dutch, who then used it as a reference for all Indian payments. Hence, wampum. Contrary to what we've been shown in our Western movies, this word - wampum - and its economic meaning never made it out of New England.
Unlike wampum, Thanksgiving Day has indeed spread across the continent. It would serve us well to remember that it wasn't until the victorious colonial militia returned from their slaughter of the Pequot that the New Americans began their now time-honored and cherished Thanksgiving.
Enjoy your turkey."

Note: Where Greener writes about "Fasting," I expected him to say "Stealing."
"They discovered a buried cache of Indian corn and a kettle, which they took."

John Mason: “Thus we may see, How the Face of God is set against them that do Evil, to cut off the Remembrance of them from the Earth. Our Tongue shall talk of thy Righteousness all the Day long; for they are confounded, they are brought to Shame that sought our Hurt!
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doth wondrous Things; and blessed be his holy Name for ever: Let the whole Earth be filled with his Glory!
Thus the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance: Who remembred us in our low Estate, and redeemed us out of our Enemies Hands: Let us therefore praise the Lord for his Goodness and his wonderful Works to the Children of Men! (page 44, MASON’S NARRATIVE OF THE PEQUOTE WAR)”

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Indian Trail/Colonial Fence

Above: Zigzag Stone Border of Indian Trail, now modern Paradise Valley Road, Bethlehem CT.
Below: Field clearing stones "tossed" onto (another possible Indian made fire break row that "became") a  colonial field boundary fence after 1659, Minortown Road, Woodbury CT.

Pet Kot (and Etc.)

(A Little Wikipedia Journey on a Snowy Morning)
Pet Kot
Much of the Maya food supply was grown in forest gardens, known as pet kot.[1] 
The system takes its name from the low wall of stones - (pet meaning "circular" and kot "wall of loose stones") that characteristically surrounds the gardens.[2]
^1  Michael Ernest Smith and Marilyn A. Masson (2000). The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica. p. 127.

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to replicate a woodland habitat.
Forest gardens are probably the world's oldest form of land use and most resilient agroecosystem. They originated in prehistoric times along jungle-clad river banks and in the wet foothills of monsoon regions. In the gradual process of families improving their immediate environment, useful tree and vine species were identified, protected and improved whilst undesirable species were eliminated. Eventually superior foreign species were selected and incorporated into the gardens.[2]

The BBC's Unnatural Histories claimed that the Amazon rainforest, rather than being a pristine wilderness, has been shaped by man for at least 11,000 years through practices such as forest gardening and terra preta.[7] Since the 1970s, numerous geoglyphs have also been discovered on deforested land in the Amazon rainforest, furthering the evidence about Pre-Columbian civilizations.[8][9]
On the Yucatán Peninsula, much of the Maya food supply was grown in "orchard-gardens", known as pet kot. ]The system takes its name from the low wall of stones (pet meaning circular and kot wall of loose stones) that characteristically surrounds the gardens.[11]
Unnatural Histories is a 3-part British television documentary series produced by the BBC and BBC Natural History Unit. It takes a new look at three of the world's most iconic wildernesses; the Serengeti, Yellowstone National Park and the Amazon and discovers that far from being wild and untouched, each has been shaped over time by man.[1][2] It was first broadcast on BBC Four 9–23 June 2011.[3]
{Photo: Geoglyphs on deforested land in the Amazon rainforest is from {}.)
Episode 3: Amazon
First aired on Thursday 23 June 2011. The final episode looks at the Amazon rainforest - billed as the world's last great wilderness. However, the discovery of geoglyphs uncovered following deforestation in the 1970s and terra preta, provide growing evidence for ancient cities in the heart of the 'virgin forest'.[6]Alceu Ranzi, a Brazilian geographer, is accredited with first discovering the geoglyphs whilst flying over Acre.[7][8]
{ Terra preta (literally "black earth" in Portuguese) is a type of very dark, fertile anthropogenic soil found in the Amazon Basin. Terra preta owes its name to its very high charcoal content, and was made by adding a mixture of charcoal, bone, and manure to the otherwise relatively infertile Amazonian soil. It is very stable and remains in the soil for thousands of years.[1][2] It is also known as "Amazonian dark earth" or "Indian black earth". In Portuguese its full name is terra preta do índio or terra preta de índio ("black earth of the Indian", "Indians' black earth"). Terra mulata ("mulatto earth") is lighter or brownish in color.}

The documentary presents evidence that Francisco de Orellana, rather than exaggerating his claims as previously thought, was correct in his observations that a complex civilization was flourishing along the Amazon in the 1540s. It is believed that the civilization was later devastated by the spread of diseases from Europe, such as smallpox. Some 5 million people may have lived in the Amazon region in 1500, divided between dense coastal settlements, such as that at Marajó, and inland dwellers.[9] By 1900 the population had fallen to 1 million and by the early 1980s it was less than 200,000.[9]
The documentary features interviews with Betty Meggers, William Balée, Anna Roosevelt, José Iriarte, Eduardo Góes Neves, Cristiana Barreto, Francis Mayle, Denise Schaan and Michael Heckenberger.

Field Clearing Stones

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Where Rye Hill Was

     I finally stumbled upon an archaeological paper from the town I live in, in an online reproduction of THE SUSQUEHANNA HORIZON AS SEEN FROM THE SUMMIT OF RYE HILL (6LFlOO), WOODBURY CONNECTICUT by DAVID H. THOMPSON (of the) GREATER NEW HAVEN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY (1989) from the "TOC's" of the CT Archaeological Society. I found a bunch of downloadable articles from past bulletins that I thought I might read on my tablet if we lost power at Happiness Farm during Hurricane Sandy.
     I found 'em here: and the Rye Hill document here:

      So of course I start wondering "Where is Rye Hill?"
      And then the author let's me know in the first paragraph:
  "Today, thanks to the rumbling of the bulldozer, it is impossible to see anything from the summit of Rye Hill in the literal sense. This small, glacially deposited hill upon which the site was located has been entirely leveled in the quest for top soil and gravel. Ruth and Edmund Sinnott salvaged what they could in 1965 over several weekends, while the area was being obliterated during the week by the bulldozer. If it were not for their efforts, nothing would be known of the site."

     So it's just another bulldozer story, where money 'talks' - or "quests" after topsoil and gravel - and a thousand year or two year old nonrenewable cultural resource 'walks' off into oblivion.

      So of course I start wondering, "Where, at least, was Rye Hill?"
       And then the author shows me Figure One:

So I find my USGS topological map of the Woodbury quadrangle and look for the old Indian Trail that's now known as main Street as well as CT Rte. 6 (but marked U.S. 6 on the map above), the Pomperaug River and something called South Brook, the one ingredient I'm not familiar with.
(1955 - updated 1984)
      "Hokey Smokes!" I exclaim (in a G-Rated version of the story) when I find the location. I've been by there a million times, parked my car there by the back door of the Natural Food store a few hundred times, and even walked down across the levelled ground to the river, picking up a stone or two along the way, wondering if they just might be perhaps an abrader or nutting stone - just like the ones found in figure 9, on page 36.
(Google Earth 2012 - and I've made the circle too small, I think)
I can take you back to 1934, thanks to the CT State Library, and show you how Rye Hill used to look back then, an actual hill perhaps at one time planted in rye:
The same State Library magic allows me to show you a photo from 1965, bulldozer included:
When I imagine sitting up on top of Rye Hill in the distant past, by a stone lined pit that might be a cremation burial site or an acorn leaching pit - or both, although not at the same time, of course - I think about the Cultural Landscape of a thousand or two or more years ago, and find so does the author of the paper: “The black fine grained soil that formed the fill of the pit also contained many small carbonized (partially burned) nuts. Upon excavation the Sinnotts did not immediately notice them. There was rain during the night, and the next day the nuts were found washed out of the pile of fill from the pit. These did not entirely fill a pint-sized peanut butter jar...the majority of the cotyledons not only belonged to the white oak group, but were from the dwarf Chinquapin Oak Quercus prinoides...Chinquapin Oak is a low wide-spreading shrub which grows in thickets. These spread radiating underground stems which send up new shoots. As do other members of the White Oak group, the abundant acorns mature in the first autumn. It is sometimes called the Scrub Chestnut Oak because the leaves resemble the leaves of the Chestnut. The dwarf Chinquapin Oak has minimum of tannin and a sweet kernel which contributes to its food value. Upon maturation Collins believes that the acorns are quickly consumed by birds, mice, squirrels, and deer. However the low size of the shrub might make collecting the collecting of the nuts easier for hunters and gatherers who would otherwise have to wait for the nuts to fall to the ground from the large species... Some speculative questions ought to be raised concerning the frequency and distribution of this species under aboriginal ecological conditions when the forests were periodically burned either by lighting, or deliberately by the natives in order to reshape and manipulate the ecosystem (Cronon 1983:47- 51)...(t)he burning minimized the understory plants, in order to produce and open park-like forest with widely spaced trees, few shrubs, and much grass and herbage. The larger oaks, particularly the white, since they are more fire resistant than the black oaks according to Collins, would have been an important component of these forests. A thinner forest canopy would have permitted a sunnier, warmer, and dryer forest floor which might have been conducive to the propogation of Chinquapin Oak as it was for a variety of different kinds of berries. The fact that this oak may be propagated by shoots growing up from undergound stems, may have been a significant survival factor when the forest was burned. Consequently Chinquapin Oak may have been more prolific in the past than it is today, and consequently of greater aboriginal economic significance than has previously been recognized…”

Turns out these Scrub Oak Shrublands are “fire dependant,” are found on ridge tops like they say, but also in and around “frost pockets,” ice in glacial Kettle Holes that are all over the place in that part of town, scrubbed more deeply by glacial action than anywhere else in CT except the CT River Valley. Pollen studies show evidence of intentional burning by native Americans, going way back and this pdf tells you a whole bunch about it:

And it turns out the word “chaparral” comes from the Spanish "chapa" or scrub oak...