27 December 2010
Ancient stone alignments in Connecticut?
During the summer solstice, a chunk of white rock in a manmade chamber on the edge of a reservoir in Madison (Connecticut, USA) is illuminated by sunlight in the shape of a dagger. In another part of town, a 7-acre parcel is filled with stone walls that align during the solstices with rocks in the shape of snakes, white quartz boulders, prayer seats and assorted cairns.
These stone displays are among the thousands discovered by Tom Paul, a retired engineer, along what he calls the 'Hammonasset Line.' Paul believes the solar alignment runs from a Native American council rock on Long Island, across the Sound, through Madison and Killingworth, northwest through Waterbury and the Berkshires into the Catskills. He said he thinks many of the stone formations date back thousands of years and were constructed by Native Americans to mark the sunrise of winter solstice and the sunset of summer solstice.
Paul has spent years traveling and hiking along the Hammonasset line, documenting the various cairns, observation platforms, stone structures, prayer seats and rock piles built to resemble turtles and snakes. "I believe this is Stonehenge-type stuff," Paul said. "I believe this line is ancient, thousands of years old. But why was the line built? Who built it? How many different groups of Native Americans observed the line? It's an enigma."
Glenn Kreisberg, vice president of the New England Antiquities Research Association, said he finds 'some validity' in the concept that Native Americans built stone constructions that align with one another and with events in the sky and on the horizon. Kreisberg said the stone structures and other artifacts and the evidence linking them to their creators are hard to come by in New England, where the climate and environment quickly destroy them.
"I believe in cases where it can be shown, through mapping and plotting of site locations, that an alignment does exist between lithic sites and events on the horizon, [and] this should be considered evidence of cultural significance," Kreisberg said, "and the stone constructions themselves should be considered artifacts worthy of preservation and scholarly study."
State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni said Paul's idea of a 'Hammonasset Line' is 'very interesting,' but more research is needed. "A lot more testing is going to have to be done in development of the theory of a 'line,'" he said. "One test might be the development of other 'lines.' With so many glacial erratics, walls, surface stones, etc., on our landscape, would other 'lines' yield a similar pattern? Or, is the 'Hammonasset Line' unique?" "Also," he added, "what need would Native Americans have for such a 'line' in their traditional cultures?"
Paul said he plans to continue lecturing about the line and exploring new places in search of more evidence. "There are so many complexes, too many to be done by farmers or colonists," Paul said. "When you've seen the things I've seen, you know no farmer did it."
Edited from The Hartford Courant (20 December 2010)