Up For Auction

Yesterday I visited Dixon’s auction on the Eastern Shore where I bid and lost on a Clovis point.   Accompanying the point was a handwritten message about who found it, along with “where” and “when.”  The stone had barnacles and barnacle scars and I believe was an authentic Clovis point.   I spoke with the winner afterwards who thought it was made by the “Delaware indians.”  At that point I rolled my eyes and regretted pulling out of the bidding that ended at $170.

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Women’s March on the National Mall

Of the many issues raised by protesters at the march, it’s this  sentiment that I find most daunting.   I wonder who’ll be blamed when all his lofty promises fail to materialize?

Youngsters generally had more hopeful messages.Salty signage provided comic relief throughout the march.


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Book Review – Arrowheads and Stone Artifacts: A Practical Guide for the Amateur Archaeologist by C.G. Yeager

I was asked by my friend and neighbor Michael Dolan who is editior for American History magazine to review an advocational archeology book.  It follows:

In this third edition of his DIY handbook, C.G. Yeager draws on decades of experience as an avocational archeologist hunting artifacts in Colorado and Wyoming. The book’s geographical emphasis on the high plains sometimes imparts a provincial feel. However, from the ethics of amateur archeology to methodologies for displaying finds, for the novice collector this guide explores practical themes relevant throughout North America.
For the self-empowering prehistorian, Yeager’s chapter on stone tool types, illustrated with sketches, is perhaps the book’s single most useful passage. Though Yeager skews his discussion to his personal stomping grounds, he does cover artifact types encountered throughout North America. Employing the colloquial “arrowhead” but acknowledging that the term encompasses a range of projectile points and blades, he reminds the reader that “arrowheads” could see use as knives, as opposed to being fitted to a shaft and launched with a bow or throwing stick.

I do take issue with some of this section’s descriptors. In defining “stunner” points—projectiles with blunt or crescent-shaped business ends, meant not to pierce but to clobber—he might have cited examples from the Great Basin, where such tools have been linked with waterfowl hunting. The sight of geese strolling golf courses with arrows sticking out of them suggests early humans might have realized sharp points might not work that well for killing birds.

Another example of incomplete analysis on Yeager’s part: discoids, stones shaped to be circular, which he generalizes as “ceremonial”—an archaeological catchall. The artifacts, also known as chunkey stones, enjoyed distribution across the continent; George Catlin painted Plains Indians using discoids in games.

My final beef is with the author’s characterization of stone balls. Yeager lists some accepted theories on their functionality—”in games and cooking”—but ignores their worldwide use as sling stones.  In subsequent editions, I hope the author addresses the implications of new technology in the curation of artifacts. The smartphone—capable of mapping, imaging, and logging information— is as important and disruptive hunting and gathering tool for today’s archaeologist, professional or amateur, as the debut of the bow and arrow was for early humans 1,300 years ago. Save for an overly regional bent, Arrowheads and Stone Artifacts stands out informatively in the sparse genre of archaeoavocational literature.

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Historic or Prehistoric?

The last time I visited Parque Santa Rosa in Costa Rica, a friend and I came across this stone wall during a hike through the bosque seco. 

It’s located near a spring and forms a ramp to higher ground (which eventually disappears into a thicket of agave.  I assumed at the time (along with a park ranger) that the wall/ramp was Pre-Columbian construction.   I returned to the same place last week and gave the area a more thorough survey and now I think it may have been built by ranchers.  Following the ramp up, I noticed barbed wire and how some of the wall might prevent animals from going over the cliff face.  Although the location is not easily accessible now, I suppose it’s proximity to the ocean would have made it open to early Spanish colonizers.  And considering the Spanish started to roll their new-found territory about 100 years before the English did so here, it stands to figure that hundreds of years of colonial rule results in histoircal ruins, besides, atop, amongst the Pre-Columbian ones.

The hiking trail teems with evidence of . . . either historic or prehistoric pottery sherds.  With little knowledge of this area, I’m guessing both eras are represented.

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At the Watergate Gallery

I have two pieces now on exhibit at the Watergate Gallery’s Light and Movement show.

Looming Pieces

materials:  Wood, spindles, shuttles, lights
description:  The inanimate objects on display spent their usable lives in motion and now, mounted like trophy heads, simply cast shadows.

and . . .

Havoc Nitelite

materials: glass, encaustic copper, acrylic paint, diodes
description:  Havoc is a wild dog that some believe roams northwest DC at night.

I get to be under the firealarm.

The show gets some press here.
Now in the studio, a gift as a consequence of Looming Pieces, a spindle and wool waiting for me to do something with it.


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Developments on the C&O – Fletcher’s to Georgetown

I’ve been unable to get information on this new temporary dock structure (plus boat racks) that recently sprung up near the historic incline plane between the C&O Canal and Potomac River.   The folks at Fletcher’s didnt know about it, but described more woes about whats happening at this segment of the canal.   The NPS is planning to drain the canal between Fletcher’s and Georgetown for 18 months because of work on the locks in Georgetown.   Some water exits the canal into the Potomac River at Foundry Branch, and had they built a berm there, it would ensure a dry environment for Georgetown work, while keeping the canal at Fletcher’s open for the next couple years.   The NPS opted against that.  Another historical loss is Fletcher’s Boathouse winter boat repair and repainting.   In spite of their careful and environmentally safe method of repainting the boats in the parking lot of Fletcher’s, the new contract stipulates that boat maintenance be done elsewhere.   The slow creep of things like this continues.

newboatracksDec. 14th update – According to many, this is Georgetown University developing land that they own between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River.

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Thanksgiving Kalua Turkey Luau-Style

For the second year in a row I cooked the Thanksgiving bird in the fire pit.  Bit of guesswork as to when it would be ready, but my 10-pounder was cooked thoroughly after being in the pit for 3:15 hrs.

fireandrocksThe beginning of the fire with cleaned boulders on deck.

A little bit of seasoning, sesame oil, and potatoes inside

dressedbirdWrapped in banana leaves and chicken wire and paraded to the fire pit.

20161124_114609rockarrangementCovered with a tarp and gaps of escaping smoke are sealed with sand.

dsc_0001-4The final product – Kalua Turkey





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Large Soapstone Bowl Fragment

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A neighbor found the above steatite rimsherd recently by the Potomac River.  It’s a very large fragment of a soapstone bowl.  Chisel marks are visible on its surface.

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Slingstones from Stoneage Hawaii

Here are two different types of sling stones on display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.  The ones on display were mostly of a subtle football shape, with the rare exception of the star-shape one at top.


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Memorial at Sea

Returning Dad back to Mother Nature

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