Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Stones

Nonnewaug Falls was formed by glacial melt water streaming over bedrock, carving a path into the landscape, just ten or twenty thousand years ago or so. The first people to visit the Falls were probably Paleo-Indian Hunters, following the trails of end of the ice-age animals.
I remember sitting at the top of the Falls, sometime in the early 1990's, thinking about how long ago that was and about how many generations of people knew about the Falls.  No one can really answer that question, I was thinking at the time, but I thought to myself that there must have been so many people that a person might be able to put their hand into that pool of water I was sitting next to and pull out an artifact that could be anywhere from 10 or 20 thousand years old to 300 years old - or some broken glass dropped or washed downstream just the day before. 
       So I put my hand into the water and picked up a small stone:
Turns out it could be an Indian Artifact called a shaft abrader, as illustrated in a favorite book of mine, The New England Indians, by C. Wilbur Keith:
So how old could it be?
Mr. Wilbur again illustrates this with another drawing:
Writing and drawing in 1978, Wilbur labels this pattern in stone as PA, a possible "Paleo American" artifact from 8500 to 5000 B.C. or anywhere up to the "Contact" period, which in Woodbury CT would be around 1659 to 1700. 

A year or two later, I was standing down by the pool below the Falls. I happened to look down to see a stone by my feet that had what looked like possible scratch marks on it:

When I picked up this stone, I was surprised to see what appeared to me to be a face not unlike photos of Indian masks that I've seen...

Native American Masks

So could what I found be an ancient artifact?
I've been told it's just a geomorph, a story stone (and I've used it in story telling, the view from one side representing a young man, the view from the other an old man, and from the front as a Spirit Face) and  a hand axe. I think it may have been a stone with that basic shape that someone made use of as a hand axe and eventually the human like features were pecked and polished into it, perhaps becoming a story stone anciently, long before I picked it up and enjoyed the mystery of it - as well as sharing the story here.
I'm still looking for another stone that resembles it more closely than this:
That resembles this:

That resembles a stone I found just last week:
That also resembles some of these items by Mr. Wilbur:
and this one:


  1. Quite an imagination! When I look at them, I see Elvis and Michael Jackson. What does everyone elese see?

  2. James Gage responded:

    "Hi Tim,

    The "abrader" stone shows some evidence of wear and tear. It would
    interesting to see it compared to other know examples from archaeological

    The carved stone faces which have been found in New England region are
    well carved and highly recognizable as faces. The stones you have found
    appear to be natural. I see no obvious evidence of carving. However, it is
    certainly possible the Native people took an interest in these natural
    stones because of their natural sculptural qualities. They are know to
    collect unusual stones as personal power objects. Outside of the context
    of grave or other cultural feature it difficult to establish them as
    cultural artifacts."


    (James maintains a website called Stone Structures of the Northeastern United States, found in the "links" above.

  3. The Huron; Farmers of the North

    Where Bruce R. Trigger writes:

    "Charms were highly valued and inhierited from one generation to the next...If a hunter found an animal difficult to kill and later found in its entrails something unusual, such as a stone or a snake, he would keep what he found in the hope it would bring him good fortune. Likewise, stones with a curious shape were kept since it was believed that these stones belonged to a spirit that lived in the woods and had lost them there (33)."

  4. See Stay in touch, Tom.