A Snake Eye Hypothesis is a good question: “If a round/oval stone is incorporated into a stone construction, then can it be assumed to be the eye of a snake effigy?”
Framed as a statement that yields a binary (yes/no) answer (for each attempt at falsification), it may be testable with observations, it may not always be true.
How about this hypothesis: “If a “New England dry stacked stone fence/stone wall” - loaded with terms often used to describe rows of stones assumed to be evidence of post contact field clearing and other European based agrarian reminders of our past - resembles a snake (composed of other snakes, turtles and other Indigenous Native American Iconography) – then it may be an Indigenous construction that recalls the Great Snake(s) or Horned Serpents - "usually very supernatural in character-- possessing magical abilities such as shape-shifting, invisibility, or hypnotic powers; bestowing powerful medicine upon humans who defeat them or help them; controlling storms and weather, and so on," as described in the entry at: http://www.native-languages.org/horned-serpent.htm .
Robert Thorson writes: “Hypotheses become stronger each time they survive a test, often tests from different angles using different data sets. Because science cannot prove something to be true, the best approach is to create a null hypothesis (the one you believe to be un-true), something that can be nullified by evidence. Basically, you set it up to knock it down. Then you set up another, which you also try to knock down. After a few trials, the one left standing is the one you suspected all along as being true. You try to knock it down repeatedly. If you can’t it’s accepted as being true.”
From Robert Thorson’s Keynote Speech to the 2010 Annual Meeting New England Research and Antiquities Research Association, “The Odd Stone Out: Theory and Practice in the Interpretation of New England’s Stone Ruins – with a Stone Strider Photo used in place of the missing photo of a “lace wall:”
Image Removed at Request of Stone Strider: see 5/2020 addendum following original post.
Image Removed at Request of Stone Strider: see 5/2020 addendum following original post.
“Let’s look at the lace wall above. Below are the explanations I’ve heard from experts (so-called).
- #1 – They’re built with holes to allow the spirits of Native Americans to pass freely over the land now bounded by stone “fences.”
- #2 – They’re precariously built because sheep are intimidated by the appearance, which makes it a good fence.
- #3 – The openings allow wind to pass through, preventing them from being blown down in gales.
After thinking about his problem for some time, I’ve added four more, none of which are probably original with me.
- #4 – The design is a pattern of folk art adopted by local farmers, copied from one to another fashion.
- #5 – The goal was to reach the legal height of a fence – generally shoulder high – but there wasn’t enough wood to raise walls that would otherwise be thigh-high, and not enough stones to go around. Hence, the “stretching” of material supply, like making the last bit of the toothpaste tube last.
- #6 – Though they look precarious, many actually are not. The frictional bond of a point-on-a-plane is often stronger than the bond of a plane-on-a-plane. For example, think of your stability on an icy driveway with skis vs. metal crampons or cleats). The former is a plane on plane. The latter is a point on plane.
- #7 – Perhaps the open-ness says more about a lack of small particles to chink the holes with, or with the difficulty of having small chinking stones stay in place in a single wall, being poked or blown out of place.
There you have it, seven explanations for the same phenomena. Some of these can be converted into excellent hypotheses. Some cannot. Probably the easiest to test is the one about wind. We could literally try to knock them down using the wind, seeing if a solid wall stands up worse than the ventilated one. An artistic tradition could be the true answer, one that just happens to coincide with the aerodynamic explanation, and which is difficult to test. Another easy one to test is the hypothesis about frictional stability. Here one could get quantitative, summing the total friction.
Most hypotheses emerge from “IF-THEN” statements. They result from predictions of hypotheses that have already stood up to many tests. This “if-then” relationship explains why a hypothesis can – and should — be considered the footstep of science. On a physical journey, every step moves you forward and depends on the previous step. Likewise, every time you learn something, it generates a prediction that allows you to learn something more…”
My response – with some “If/Then” questions I sometimes modify and update:
If the already understudied Indigenous Cultural Landscape is ignored, particularly in the case of Ceremonial Stone Features, then wouldn’t a person be guilty of passing off Pseudoscience as Science, substituting myths for truth, and Ethnically Cleansing away evidence of thousands of years of Traditional Ecological Knowledge by claiming, without further research, that the great majority of stonework in the Northeast is the result of field clearing methods of post-contact agriculture?
If there are many free standing stone concentrations/constructions that either contain effigies or resemble animals both actual and legendary, as well as other designs and patterns (Indigenous Iconography) that figured highly and appear in the artwork in other media created by the Indigenous People of Turtle Island (Native Americans of North America) – the turtle, bear and deer etc. along with the Great Serpents etc., - then who was more likely to have the time and motivation to create this artwork - Indigenous People or farmers fancifully and whimsically "doodling" as Thorson calls it?
If those same techniques and designs found in Indigenous artwork can be found in those longer piles of stones most often called “stone walls” then again, who was most likely to have the greater amount of time and greater motivation to create this artwork especially when the stone wall ends in what clearly resembles a snakes head (as I once heard a panel member at a Roundtable on Stone Features and Ceremonial Stone Landscapes at the IAIS Research Center say in November 2014, as if reading my mind)?
If the Indigenous People of Turtle Island (Native Americans of North America) maintained the landscape with fire then how were those fires controlled, especially in areas of dense population, in times of increasing territoriality? Which would be a considered the more “dire need” to justify the labor required to create nearly a quarter million miles of stone walls – fuel breaks to control Indigenous burning over a great length of time or animal containment fences in the brief period of time known as the Golden Age of Stonewall Building that began shortly after the American Revolutionary War and ended with the invention of barbed wire.
If Paleo-Indians (the Ancestors of the Indigenous People of Turtle Island) made “sophisticated prehistoric stone walls deep beneath the surface of Lake Huron,” the most recent find described as “two stone lines forming a lane about 30 meters long and eight meters wide which ended in a corral-type structure” with “hunting blinds built into the sides as well as other lanes and structures,” then why not elsewhere on Turtle Island?
If the post contact period settler colonists found the stone rows of the Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscape then would they find it easier to either adapt them to European style “fences” – adding wooden rails to meet a requirement of new laws about ownership of property – or to quarry them for reuse? Doesn't the Law of Parsimony apply not only to the time required for the building of at least a quarter million miles of “stone walls” but also to the reuse of already existing stone structures – or their removal from the landscape?
(If wooden rail fences did actually come first, then were fence laws created to culturally appropriate existing stone wall fuel breaks and/or petroforms in a quick and simple manner, adding rails to existing rows of stones to meet the , on average, “four and a half feet tall” legal height requirement?)
My Consulting Private Detective Sherlock Stones proposes an Eighth Hypothesis to test by observation of construction techniques, similar but not identical to #4:
If the stones around an eye-like round stone are stacked to resemble the scales around the eye of an Eastern Timber Rattlesnake that appears to be the snake the Great Snakes or Serpents are modeled on, then is that stone construction a Snake Effigy?
Stones goes on to remark, "In Great Britain, 70,000 miles of stonewalls were built over a time period of 5,000 years by many people. In New England, 250,000 miles of stone walls were assumed to have been built by Colonists over a time period of 200 years, more stonework than in all of the rest of the world combined, Gardner contends," he says. "Indigenous Peoples who lived on the same landscape since the glaciers retreated are usually not even mentioned as possible suspects, despite having been present for 97% of the total time human beings lived on this same landscape.”
Sherlock turns to me and asks: "Who had more time in which to construct an estimated quarter million miles of stone walls? Who had the more "dire need" for all those (fire-proof) rows of stones on a Landscape that was fire-tended and most likely pretty densely populated by 1492? Who in the long run would have saved labor (travelling less for a more dependable and abundant resource outcome, not burning up your firewood or all the many sorts of "Ecological Resource Zones," whether it is a forest garden of fire resistant or dependent trees, or fire-pruning and maintaining just one of your blueberry fields or cranberry bogs, instead of all of them at once)? Who is more inclined to make effigy petroforms (or geoglyphs) that resemble Great Serpents on a Sacred Cultural Landscape?"
"If the scientific (Anthropological, Archeological etc.) explanation of “stone wall-like rows of stone” on Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscapes, related to Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, is too hard to understand, then make up - and keep repeating - a deceptively simple Euro-centric Stone Wall Myth or Fable."
Stone Strider writes: "Hello Tim. I recently discovered that you are using my pictures to push a narrative of 'indigenously (sic) constructed stones' at the Heath Alter (sic), Massachusetts, at "Waking Up At (sic) Turtle Island". You need to remove those pictures please. As an academic, and peer-reviewed analyst, I need you to ask permission to use my 'Rights Reserved' images. Addressing your particular narrative; I am contacting you directly, letting you know, that from a geomantic (sic) perspective, the stones-linings, inundated with quartz, could circle the earth roughly six times. Besides the fact that Native Cultures do not claim these works in the Northeast, Native tribes were distinctly, culturally nomadic; Meaning: building stone strongholds, directly up the sides of mountains for each and every Summer, would have been absolutely repugnant to Native Tribes, making very little logical sense, with what we understand about the beautiful Native tribes of the North East.. Moreover, the tools Natives use in the Northeast were pragmatically simple, not for megalithic work. Where are those millions of tools for building these "walls"? It would've taken, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of hours, of brutal work. Where ate the tools for this brutal megalithic-scale work? Please understand: After surviving the long Winters, Natives did not go straight to the Mountain-sides to build 'walls', which is what they literally would've had to do, in order to accomplish this feat. These "walls" keep nothing "in", and no one, "out". Even the concept of dividing the land with stone, would've been absurd to Native Chieftains. Although your vernacular shows that you are familiar with academic works on the subject, your leap to crediting Natives with these constructs, which appear with: advanced dynamic characteristics, memes, symmetry, interlocking fixtures, and directionality, with feats of massive strength and mental acuity, in no way aligns with your Native-credited narrative. These concepts are prevalent in other places where megaliths exist, yet the Natives do not claim constructing them. The primordial and intrinsic mathematical principles show up consistently, from Glen Coe Scotland, to Sonora California, and so much in between, as displayed on my website. If this were psychological' projection', the evidence would not be mounting with literal, physical, consistent identical themes, and from different locations. Also, other researchers would not concur in the numbers they are now concurring, ACROSS THE GLOBE. I would appreciate it if you would remove my images from your critiquing website, or pay for the permissive Rights to use them directly, as a proper academic. This is also the Law. Since you chose not to write me, to ask my name, and simply said "whoever wrote this at Stonestrider.com.." My name Tim, is John P. Vigneau; I attended The George Washington University, and hold a Degree in Western History and Philosophy, as well as completing a Master's Degree in Landscape Ecology and Geological Anthropology, at Unity Environmental Engineering College in Maine. My developed data and perspective indicate this: Try to think of the landscape as a synergized space, a connected grid utliizing (sic) the geomantic (?) qualities of quartz, and granite, as well as the subtle electric production transferred through the specifically placed stones; They are connected to points of force, like flowing water to mountain tops.The Sun charges the stones on high, while the streams charge the stone below. Synergy. The properties of quartz are found in energy transfer engineering in your Cell Phone, computers, and it is the same concept on the primordial landscape. It is engineering; A broader, and more developed perspective, than the limited logical proposition that Natives, with stone pics, and hammers, spent all their time carrying rocks up mountains. By utilizing the geomantic qualities of the Earth itself, this earliest group of megalithic-capable builders, attempted to claim, and synergize (?) the space, to the fullest. The Native American Culture of course has instances of stone mounds, and minor statements (?) in the Ohio River Valley, expanding out to the Anastazi (sic) in the great South West, but these wonderful statements are not a justification for attributing the Northeastern mountain-stones. Why are none of the Native tribes called: "The Stone Builders", or "Mountain stone workers" ? Not one of the tribes in the Northeast is so named. Not one. They were fishers, and hunters, agrarian practitioners, living in huts and teepees (sic) in the River-Valleys. I will also add that the Native Tribes of South America, particularly the megalithic areas of Peru, DO NOT claim to have built those megaliths. The megaliths were there BEFORE they arrived, and they acknowledge this directly. It is more likely that the stone-linings in New England were there BEFORE the Natives arrived. I'm not sure why you are s determined to attribute these works specifically to Nomadic Native American Tribes? Why do you ignore the limits of the logical aspects of your perspective. Is it because you are an atheist, and perhaps have aversion to the possibility of Biblical relevance to the megaliths? Anyway, please remove the images, or we can discuss a price for the usage. And most importantly, stay well during this pandemic. I have attached more evidence with my latest article, containing hundreds a connective memes and engineered statement from across the Western Hemisphere. Be well. John"