Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Uses of Quartz

Native Americans quarried quartz from veins in boulders and outcrops. Some was used in arrowheads, some was used to mark sacred places such as burials. Here the quartz has been nearly completely removed from the vein in this outcrop. These photos were shown on Larry Harrop's blog two years ago.
 Here is another quarry site at large quartz veins in Tiverton, RI.
The quartz vein is visible under the lean-to, and depleted veins directly to the right in the photo above are shown in the photo below.
One practical use  I noticed years ago was as a trail marker. Often large chunks of quartz are seen along farm roads, such as this location at Weetamoo Woods in Tiverton, RI.
Being white and shiny, the quartz would have been a marker for night travel.  Often I find quartz stones half-buried in the paths near stone structure sites, and  sometimes occurring at uniform distances. This one is in the path leading to a large cairn field.
A quartz marker  from before first contact would be completely buried, so these probably date from historic times, and were used by Indians and farmers alike.
    Quartz  is often incorporated into  stone walls, and may be decorative, as well as an aid to  night travel. Sometimes these stones occur at regular intervals in walls.
Quartz stones were also used to mark burials. Here a quartz rests in a low cairn at a forgotten site by a pond.

This practice may have been carried into historic times.  Here is a large chunk of quartz left in the wall of a cemetery at a revolutionary war site.
And here is quartz incorporated into a family cemetery in RI.  Merely decorative, or a fusion of native and Christian beliefs?

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