Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Place of Many Boats

One translation of Watuppa is "place of many boats".  When I go kayaking on South Watuppa Pond, I am traveling on a great sheet of water, and can visit old stone rows and effigies. I imagine the water was once crowded with dugout canoes. The recent rains have kept the water level  high, hiding the much of the structures I described last summer.  However, the high water has revealed features of  the turtle effigy from 8/29/12.
 The high water hides most of the turtle's head, but makes it easier to see the top of the flat rock.
 A large cavity is worn into the top of the flat rock.
 Two smaller, more shallow depressions are seen to the right of the larger cavity on the upper surface of this rock. In the center side of the rock is a "gutter".  For countless  years this rock stood on dry land  and Native women ground acorns in the hollows and soaked out the tannins in the pond water.  Environmental change and damming of the Quequechan River have raised the water level by about two feet.   This created a  beautiful marsh  containing invasive purple loosestrife and other species unknown to the Natives. Anyone interested in the environmental changes occurring in New England after first contact should read "Changes in the Land" by William Cronon.
     Further south from the turtle effigy  is this  stone row, first shown 6/13/2012.

 This heron is enjoying the serenity of the spot. On the east shore, most of this stone row at the small enclosure (7/4/2012) is hidden.

 However, the rock propped between two larger ones is still visible.

 Most of the stone row at the east shore (6/27/2012) is also hidden.
The hill in the distance is in Fall River.  Rolling Rock stands at its crest, and was probably faintly visible from most of the stone row sites on the pond.  The ground within these stone row sites is sandy and free of large rocks, suggesting they  were  Native summer encampments. Sometimes when I am out kayaking and see families enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon at their camps and cottages, I imagine Natives hundreds of years ago also enjoying the pond.
     Here is the large rock at the east shore site, and a looming dark cloud.

 Time to head back to the put-in!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Large Propped Boulders on a Hill

As I review my vacation photos, it  becomes striking how often propped boulders are found in the Southwest as well as the Northeast.  Manitous are common in RI, where the granite breaks into slabs, but are rare in the Southwest, possibly because the stone there does not break into slabs.  In the Southwest, there  are also very few rock piles or cairns, and few stone rows.  Since there is no apparent agricultural use for propped boulders, it is safe to say they were constructed by Natives and not settlers.  The location of the propped boulders may give a hint as to their significance.  In RI, hilltops are often crowned with boulders left by glaciers, but only certain boulders are propped.  Here, for an example, is a hilltop with two large propped boulders.
Here are two views of the first:
In this face,  the carved out areas along the lower edge are obvious.
Another angle, and some more views.
And here is the supporting rock.  That is a shadow of my fingers to the right. I am trying to keep them from straying in front of the lens.
And about 50 feet away is this boulder.
Here is the underside, showing that it also has had chunks of rock removed.
These two boulders, like many of the other propped boulders, are resting on bedrock.  Also, they are on a direct N-S alignment.  The directions were sacred to the Natives, so maybe this was a factor in choosing which boulders to prop. Two of the boulders in another site I showed previously (3/14/2012) are also on a nearly N-S alignment.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Types of Structures in a Site

In a site, there may be several types of stone structures: propped boulders, split boulders, cairns and manitous.  Here is one long-forgotten site with all of them.
This is always good to find: a propped boulder along the trail to the site.
The rock here splits into thin slabs, creating these strange manitou shapes. Maybe these natural manitous were the inspiration for the propped boulders.

I think I am going the right way. This bent tree points to the site. More natural manitous are in the background.

Now I'm here.

On the slope of a small hill are two large slabs shaped like manitous (gray wpt 052).  The one in the foreground has a V cut out of the top.  I've often thought that the two represented some dichotomy, like male and female.  These are not part of a stone row, so this is probably not a modification created by a farmer, as I described before (3/27/13 ).
Here on the little hill overlooking a swamp, is a propped boulder (yellow wpt 042),

and nearby, a cleanly cut split boulder (yellow wpt 041).
At the base of the small hill is a stone row with a large quartz rock (blue line).
I've often thought these were placed by farmers as an aid in night travel.
The stone row continues about 350 feet to an outcrop.
It passes a low cairn (red wpt 050).
The stone row continues across the outcrop, and disappears into a swamp.
This site has a variety of structures, but what can it mean?  It is easy to imagine all sorts of ceremonial uses of the stones in directing the movement of spirits across the site.  The variety of structures probably indicate differing uses of the site over time, especially since old maps show this as part of a farm. I think the propped boulders were left by natives, perhaps as some sort of recognition of the natural manitous in the site. Farmers later cut the split boulder and others to create squarish stones for the walls.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sabino Canyon

It is hot and humid, and the high water in South Watuppa Pond is hiding the stone rows.  Time to revisit previous  vacations, such as this trip to Tucson, AZ, in 2011.
     Sabino Canyon is inside the Tucson city limits.  A creek runs through it, and stone structures indicate Native use.

There are flat ledges of rock along the banks.  In the hillside near the water is a large propped boulder.  To the right in the photo are a couple of stone slabs.
The view from the other side.
There is nothing inside.
On the ledges of stone by the water are mute testaments to centuries of hard work for survival

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

First I will start with a disclaimer:  This is not a real cliff dwelling, but a reconstruction that opened to the public in 1907.  The stones from dilapidated  structures in the Four Corners area were moved here, and reassembled into these buildings.  That said, it's still a great place to visit in  Manitou Springs, CO, because of one big advantage.  Unlike Mesa Verde, you can go inside every room in this structure, as long as you can squeeze through the openings! Once you get inside, there are plenty of posted interpretations of the rebuilt structures.
 It was pleasantly cool inside.  Here are the metates arranged against a wall in a three-family house.

There is a large space between the back of this building and the cliff, where the inhabitants would have thrown their refuse.  While this sounds messy and smelly, they probably produced very little refuse by using every part of game animals.

This is thought to have been a storage container.

The reconstructed kiva had two very interesting features: a stone slab standing between the fire and the air vent, which was supposed to diffuse the air flow, and a sipapu or spirit entrance.
  The sipapu is on the floor directly across the fire from the slab.

Most interesting was this little niche with a basin built into the floor of a small room.  This was described as possibly used for ceremonial preparation of bodies for burial.

Here in the museum, mugs from about 1300! These sure look like modern coffee mugs!