Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Work Tables

In recent posts, I have shown that propped boulders are arranged  in "corners" of three, with one in the center, and the other two roughly equidistant from it, forming a right or obtuse angle. The two large adjacent enclosures I showed in September 2013 may actually be several "corners".  These  boulders were chosen by Natives for alteration  from among the many strewn across the landscape.   Creating these structures would have been very labor intensive, and the purpose is mysterious. Were they memorials, shrines, or markers for trails or territories?
      Recently, I read Connecticut's Indigenous Peoples by Lucianne Lavin and Paul Grant-Costa. Archaeological digs of old campsites show that there were different work areas within a campsite.  The tasks were assigned by gender, with each gender having its own work area some distance from the residential area.  The men would make stone tools and arrowheads at their work site, thereby keeping stone chips and debris from being scattered about the residential area.  The women would process food at a separate site. Therefore, a campsite could contain three smaller sites with different purposes. Then I realized that the "corner" could have  been a campsite, and the propped boulders markers for the different sites. Some of the propped boulders may have been used as task-specific work tables.

     I showed this propped boulder as part of a corner last week. It has a square shape and a flat top, and  may have become tilted over the centuries.   Historical documents such as the accounts of Verazzano describe the Natives as tall, often  nearly 6 feet in height.  I'm about the same height, and find this stone is at waist level, and  easy to walk up to. (That's my gloved finger to the left.)

Here is another possible work table from the large enclosures I showed  earlier (9/11/2013).

The other side.

The top is shown below. The slope may look uncomfortably steep for people standing around the table, but this slope was probably excavated for  the  farm road directly downhill, and eroded over time.

These two boulders  look like they were shaped into squares with flat tops.  The table above is next to this propped boulder.

Unfortunately, there is no way to get a good photo of this large boulder resting on smaller rocks. Perhaps this site was used by the men for tool production.
     I have shown another propped boulder with a grinding slick ( 9/18/2013 ).  Presumably, this would have been used by women for food production.  Here is another propped boulder at a site about 20 miles from this one, with a large grinding slick.

Similarly, the large flat pedestal boulder that Larry Harrop found could have been a table (3/14/2012).  One can easily imagine people clustered around the table at this site.  On the day I took the photo, someone  had left a beverage can on top of  the table.

    While it's easy to claim that any flat rock was a work surface, these tables  have been altered by being propped or perched, and are at  the "corners" of a campsite.    If these flat propped boulders were used as work tables, the ground around them would contain large amounts of stone chips or food waste.  An archaeological dig could  identify and date the use of the table.
     Why prop a boulder for use as a work table?  There may have been practical purposes, such as under-table storage or  toe room for the user.  There may have also been a spiritual component, such as opening a portal to the spirit world for such important functions as food and tool production. Of course, most of the propped boulders I have seen are too large and rounded to be tables.  There must have been  some other purpose for creating them.

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