Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Miantonomi's Cave by Flashlight

 On Tuesday, March 20  I returned to the site I dubbed Miantonomi's Cave, bringing along a strong flashlight, a compass, and a metal tape measure. This is a highly  simplified  plan of the site.

 The base rock is in blue, and the square boulder on top is in red.  The smaller boulder next to the square one is in green. I worked out the alignments by placing the flashlight in notches and grooves that seemed designed to channel sunlight, and photographing where the light fell.

Summer Solstice
The bottom edge of the square boulder has a 318 degree alignment.   Placing the flashlight along the edge produced a spot of light on a stone face directly behind the boulder. This would be the green boulder in the diagram. This face of the boulder slants at about 70 degrees relative to the base, so the light ray in the diagram appears to go under the boulder.

    The spot of light  was barely visible from on top of the structure, and did not enter the chamber.  I walked around the base, and found a small opening between the boulders to the left side of the chamber opening.  The light was clearly visible from this vantage point.  I had to stand on the small stone to see it, which may be its purpose.
The opening is in the dark area to the left of the chamber opening, between the two boulders. 

Sitting in the seat in the chamber, I am facing  the small opening at 285 degrees.  I can see sunlight streaming under the leaning edge of the large boulder, right in front of me.  Perhaps this is the site for determining equinox sunsets. I wonder who sat here before me, and how long ago.

Winter Solstice
The south side of the structure's base west of the chamber opening is very smooth, and on a 253 degree bearing, with a wide and shallow notch visible in the center.  The other side curves away.  There may be some pattern of shadows on winter solstice, but  it is hard to tell.
Here is the  notch in the wall directly to the left of the cave opening, and a depression in the wall directly opposite.
Maybe the last rays of winter solstice sunset travel through the notch and light this depression.

August 13 or Green Corn Festival
 I noticed that the larger window had a notch in the bottom, presumably to channel the last rays of sunset light.  I placed my flashlight in the notch, and photographed the chamber. The bearing was about 305 degrees, corresponding to August 13.
The light fell on the point of the rock projecting from the wall.
This really was surprising.  If this structure is an observatory, it certainly is sophisticated. I have never seen this structure described anywhere in books or online, but someone may have seen it before. It would be intriguing to compare my findings to someone else's, especially if that person is an astronomer or archaeologist.  Undoubtedly this site has  more mysteries to examine.

1 comment:

  1. There is another reason to mark the August 13th sunset - the Perseid meteor shower occurs around this time and by some historical accounts had religious significance including a mention of this exact location. Have been finding over time that one boulder or formation was marked for multiple purposes. Haven't had the opportunity to visit this location, but your observations are very interesting. Thanks for sharing!