Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stone by Stone (Segment One)

      I didn’t want to read “Stone By Stone” while on a little vacation in Westbrook by the Connecticut shore, but I did. My mom’s neighbor had just recently read it, continues to re-read it and then left it on my mom’s dining room table for me to read even though I said it would probably just make me mad. As much as I love the geological stories Robert Thorson tells and respect his geological knowledge about geological geology, I get a little angry that he minimizes the “footprint on the land (scape)” of Indigenous Peoples who lived here on this corner of Turtle Island since the retreat of the glaciers. Happily, it turns out that I did read it and got a nice little quote out of it, that mentions how a stone wall can be a “firebreak,” also called a "fuel break," something I suggest is one of the functions of some of the remnants of Indigenous Stonework I see, detected or diagnosed by Indigenous Artwork incorporated into rows of stones. Perhaps that might make a good name for it:

Indigenous Stone Artwork of Turtle Island.
Page 61:

      I had already taken a couple short walks during that vacation week, revisiting some places and taking a quick look at some rows of stones I don’t remember looking at before. I came across a fine example of what is probably a box turtle with a beautiful striated high domed carapace and a particularly nice left front foreleg that shows three toes – possibly, I mean, being an amateur such as I am.

 I had simply walked into the little wooded area behind my mom’s barn to find this Petroform on this row of stones, although I must have passed by it quite a few times before without noticing it. The white quartz stone caught my eye this time, prompting me to look closer…

      Conventional wisdom calls this a stone wall created sometime after 1630 something (my mom’s house is dated to 1760, built for a local ship builder named Hayden) when refuse stone was tossed during field clearing or then rebuilt from a messy pile of stones into this form later on. I think otherwise; I see Indigenous Stone Artwork that is probably much older and artistically stacked.
      And, as I’ve said before, “the Turtle is the Key to this Language of Indigenous Stone Artwork of Turtle Island.” There are multiple testudinate effigies in this segment of stone – and possibly other animals, possibly more that I don’t really understand, but this one with three well defined toes is a good example:
Widen the view and there just may be another turtle petroform beside it:

And another suggested beside that one, the suggestion of two toes on two suggested forelegs:

       And as I ponder how to close this out, just what to say, how to convey that I see remnants of an ancient Sacred Stone Landscape that blended in with, enhanced the natural, tended agriforests or "Tree Gardens"  and patches of this and that, a Sacred Landscape amid the modern "developments," road scars and stripmalls. I’m supplied with a quote that a descendent of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Village has just posted to Archaeological Society of Connecticut’s Face Book page: “Changing worldviews is not easy and usually avoided by both the individual and society (stay in the comfort zone). However, to not accept those intensive farming Native Peoples as first and foremost horticulturalists, then we continue "teaching" about Native Peoples at the expense of Native Peoples; teaching such skewed life-ways not to the true benefit of the society focused on by an exhibit or for real historical perspective a book claims to offer, but to the benefit of the audience's thirst for the "primitive." - Jessica Diemer-Eaton, “a historical interpreter of Native American lifeways, and owner of Woodland Indian Educational Programs (www.woodlandindianedu.com). She provides educational programs for students, public programs for museums, Powwows, and historical events, as well as interpretive workshops for museum staff.”

Oh yeah - my fuelbreak/firebreak quote from Stone by Stone by Prof. Thorson:

Addendum (12/14/2016):

     For goodness sake, he seems to be agreeing with me about the function of those "Old Walls:" "Old walls are also the physical edges between growing places ...many low walls make better fences for woodland flora than they ever did for cattle...all separating elements in the landscape."  Indigenous Cultures were using burning as a tool to shape the landscape here for a very long time. The presence of or Native American Iconography, such as the turtle effigies, in all these thousands of miles of row of stones may be a cultural clue as to who carefully and artistically stacked - and maintained - these "stone walls" over perhaps thousands and thousands of years. 
    That Native American "foot print" may rather be all around us, remains of one of the world's largest "rock gardens," misidentified by an Ethnocentric bias. 
   Here's a question to ask: "What if the stone wall begins or ends with something that resembles, sometimes, a very anatomically accurate an Eastern Timber Rattlesnake head?"

       Which culture would be more inclined to create this gateway at the former home of the first Puritan minister in Bethlehem CT? First Congregationalists (to whom the serpent was associated with the Devil) or Indigenous People (to whom the Great Serpent was, among other things, a protective spirit being, greatly involved in matters concerning water and weather and so much more)?
An interpretive overlay:
Adding antlers to both, I only added some eyes to the photo on the right, just where some roundish depressions occur in that stone. 
The seeming eyes of the boulder on the left received no overlay although sometime in this stone's history human hands may have enhanced the stone and create the artistic effect of a a Great Serpent with white eyes, reminiscent of the Uktena or "Strong Looker," reading the thoughts of the person about to enter this space:
That Great Serpent is another "key" to understanding Indigenous Stonework - or Stone Art...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tim Hauf Photography

(I just found a draft of this blog post, so I just put it up:)

                            Stepping back from a detail I've often used...

(Manitoba Turtle Petroform by Stan Milosevic - http://www.manitobaphotos.com/petroforms.htm)

...I find it may be "the turtle in center" of a Bannock Point Petroform referred to as the "Circle of Life" here among others at this fine collection of photographs by Tim Hauf:

(updated link)
This might be another photo of the same petroform from a website where the author writes:
The picture above is an example of an area that I was always drawn to when at Bannock Point (Manitoba Whiteshell). I later learnt that this spot is one of the vortex areas used by the originators. The original Petroforms here have been lost or removed and replaced by what appears to be more modern ones, as if to say, from the subconsciousness’s of these people “I remember this spot.”
(From this webpage: http://thelamplight.ca/schematicoftime/researching2.htm, which in turn is part of a huge collection of pages, indexed at: http://thelamplight.ca/schematicoftime/index.htm - which sure looks very "complicated," to say the least, but does seem to have many original photos by someone who is familiar with many a "stone concentration.")

Walking Along Some "Walls" in Westbrook CT

...looking for maybe some effigies or something, maybe a shelf or a tool or two...

...maybe even a turtle or two...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

From a little search with Ethnographic Landscape as the key word

(An Ethnographic Landscape is a cultural landscape containing a variety of natural and cultural resources that the associated people define as heritage resources. - http://tclf.org/content/ethnographic-landscape)


Friday, July 04, 2014

Turtle Parts - Looking for the Nuchal

Above: “A Turtle Shaped Mortar” from Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples (2013) by Dr. Lucianne Lavin. That is my photo from 9/2008. The “mano” or “pestle” (or "turtle head stone," depending upon your point of view) that fits into the depression was found by gently removing the black soil from around the spot that most likely looked to be chipped away for a nuchal notch for this possible testudinate petroform with a specific purpose.

    I guess if a person is going to claim to see stone turtle effigies where other people see just a “random pile of rocks,” I suppose that person might take a little time to look at some turtle parts – and by turtle I mean both the actual reptiles of the order Chelonii or Testudines and some details reflected in what I think may be cultural depictions of these reptiles, sometimes “free-standing sculptures” or petroforms, sometimes contained in stone piles that are thought to be the results of field clearing or those really long stone piles that are a signature landform of (post European contact) New England commonly called stone walls.
    I mean, how realistic is that supposed stone turtle effigy? Is it really just a coincidence that what one person perceives as a “random pile of rocks (pile of stones, really, if you want to get technical about it) just happens to be sometimes obviously, sometimes vaguely, reminiscent of what might be a representation of a turtle in my eyes (or your eyes) because it really does have a number of characteristic details that reflect actual details of the actual reptile rather than because I really want it to be a turtle Petroform purposely made by someone at some time for some reason??
     And by someone I mean an Indigenous person, and by sometime I mean since the glaciers retreat, and by some reason I mean just that: “some reason.” I can only offer guesses as to why someone who lived on Turtle Island might make a cultural representation of a turtle using, and perhaps modifying, stone.
     Think about how many times you may have read or heard about those early contact times, how the “first settlers” began using already cleared Indian fields. Have you ever read or heard a suggestion as to where the stones went? Think about how many times you’ve read or heard that the Indians burned the “woods” to facilitate hunting, which is slowly evolving into the thoughts that Indigenous People were actually maintaining a Cultural Landscape by selective burning that was sustainable rather than destructive (mostly), perfected with a thousand or so years of practice?  Think about how those fires may have been controlled, how just maybe those rows of stones just might have been fuel breaks created over that long period of time before European Contact, a soft term for Colonial Invasion, separating what was to be burned at a certain time for a certain reason.
    And think about how every stone wall book ever written includes the fact that the earliest of colonial fences were made of wooden rails to satisfy a legal requirement of claiming property ownership, the oldest of stone rows created by dumping stone up against these post less zigzag snake rails (an easy thing to do or imagine) or even actually placing them inside and under cross and rail fences (which seems much harder and more easily imaginable as form of punishment).
    I think about these things because I actually live by a Village site, surrounded by these types of stonework. I think about zigzag rows of stone because there are so many of them in the area and I can’t find one that isn’t carefully made, just like those linear segments of rows of stones.
   And I think about artistic cultural representations of turtles contained in these stone constructions because they far outnumber any other possible representation of other animals that were important to Indigenous People who lived around here, as those people say, “forever.”

    And I think that shouldn’t be a surprise, here on what was called Turtle Island for a very, very long time.  
    Any cultural artistic representation of a turtle depends upon the artistic abilities of the individual (or individuals, I suppose you could say) creating that artwork. I imagine this cultural representation that just happens to include a turtle below would be pretty realistic since all the other surviving details of the damaged sculpture are very realistic, but I can’t easily find a close up of the turtle for some reason. No wonder no one remembers who the artist is:
Aphrodite in Her See Thru Nightie, Resting Her Foot on an Unmistakable (Stone) Turtle (Unknown Artist - 2nd to 3rd century CE) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turtle_Aphrodite_AO20126_mp3h9188.jpg
    But those are both really far away from me here in Western Connecticut. Closer to Connecticut is that famous Bronx Turtle Petroglyph, like Ed Lenik describes (and I lifted this photo from the Greater Astoria Historical Society website to illustrate):

But this isn’t either a sculpture –or a Petroform.
Here is a photo of an unmistakable Turtle petroform in the Whiteshell Provincial Park, Canada from a fairly reliable (government) source:
“Turtle petroform (Ken Porteous)”
But here’s a couple amateur photos from the same place:
http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs49/i/2009/218/9/7/petroform_turtle_3_by_hcube.jpg - and, in my amateur opinion, that there is also a petroform snake a little west of it in the photo as well…
(This one may not be all that old...)
Like Ed says above, the design of these clearly depict turtles (and isn’t that a rather interesting stone that makes up the neck of the turtle above that some of you reading this might recognize as a rhomboidal stone when viewed from the right side of the petrofrom – in my amateur opinion…) by using stones not only as an outline, but also more by use of a (mostly) solid carapace stone, such as some smaller stone constructions do:
(Manitoba Turtle Petroform by Stan Milosevic - http://www.manitobaphotos.com/petroforms.htm)

In Eastern Connecticut, Bob Miner photographed a similar “stone concentration” that I, in my amateur opinion, would call a very similar clearly unmistakeable testudinate depiction, rather than a “random pile of rocks.”

The shell of the turtle seems to be the basic ingredient in a cultural representation of a turtle.
If you want to really sound important and scientific, you can call that upper shell a Carapace, so I shall include some Important Carapace Information I stole from one web site out of many that say much the same thing about a turtle’s most distinguished (distinguishing?) characteristic:
“The shell of turtles is the backbone of their success (pun intended; Sorry.)…These amazing little marvels are what have kept chelonians in business for over 230 million years.  The piece of scute directly behind the head is known as the nuchal. Then all the scutes directly behind the nuchal are known as vertebrals. Radiating along the sides of the shell are scutes called marginal, named of course because they are at the margins or fringes of the shell. 

Finally all the scutes inbetween the vertebrals and the marginals are called costals, thus making up the outer surface of the carapace.”

You will note that the few examples I have shown are not 100% anatomically accurate representations, especially when it comes to “scutes.” And I cannot say for certain that I’ve ever observed a possible turtle Petroform that does have the exact number of each type of scute listed above, but I have observed many times that sometimes but not all the time the detail of a nuchal is actually included in some possible (or is it probable?) Turtle Petroforms.
Here’s a good example of that nuchal notch in a possible (or is it probable??) turtle petroform:

 This hardly seems a coincidence, this purposely placed cobble stone that represents a turtles head, tucked inside a nuchal notch in a single stone carapace without much hint of any other kind of scute in that roughly 3 foot long boulder in a zigzag row of stones that runs along (well, sits beside actually) a small tributary stream that flows over a couple of dramatic waterfalls.
Does it look like this was a natural notch or does it look humanly enhanced?
Has that “head stone” been modified?
Has a few hundred – or a couple thousand - years of weathering rendered it impossible to tell?
I can answer that very quickly: I don’t know.

The very first couple of stone concentrations or combinations of artistically placed stones that I thought just might be turtles actually have more complicated nuchal notches that seem more like protrusions:
Above: Turtle One.
Below: “Chickenyard” Turtle Two.
And since One is free standing while Two is incorporated into a mound,
I'll give you a third, included in a row of stones:
A thought about this occurs to me as I think about how this may represent or reflect that older turtles get more “gnarly” as their scutes grow as they age and that these turtles with the more protruding nuchal scutes may be older turtles or Grand Mother or Grand Father Turtles, perhaps the Great Turtle of various Creation Stories recorded across Turtle Island. In fact, that first turtle, Turtle One, as I call it, may represent the Great Turtle, claw marks on its shell from the Beaver who placed the mud that became the soil of Turtle Island on both sides of shell above the nuchal on that four foot long boulder:

Maybe a little more than 100 feet east of the above Great Turtle is the youngest possible cultural representation of a turtle I’ve been aware of, a hatchling surrounded by the possible representations of the eggshell it has just emerged from:

In another pile of stones perhaps all of 25 or 30 feet away, is another similar but larger possible (probable??) artistic representation of what to me is an unmistakable turtle, created in much the same manner - chipping stone away from the quartz crystal "head stone:"
(- and there are more like these in this same mound group.)
It makes me smile to come across these Indigenous Creations, sometimes with that nuchal, sometimes not, but it is yet another identifying characteristic of the artistic, rather than random, purposeful placement of a stone in a concentration such as a mound:
Or as an inclusion in a row of stones - and sometimes they smile back:

And that’s why I stick my neck out and say “This probable stone cultural representation of a turtle is also sticking its neck out from the stone that represents its upper shell or carapace – which to a novice like myself, look to be split from the same stone - purposely placed directly in front of a nuchal notch:”

Now, back home, on my front steps, what’s up with that stone embedded in the crumbling (crumbled?) piece of 1960’ s mortar?
Stone Tool or Stone Turtle Shell???