TR Santa Rosa Crossings

General Palm Springs area.

Postby arocknoid » Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:15 am

Robert, thanks for the terrific trail report. Great delight in hiking far from the madding crowd.

Re: the "mortars":
I finally topped out at a peak with a house-sized boulder perched on top. I peeked around in the little caves at the base of it and noticed two deep grinding holes in the underside.

The first question is, were the holes ground in situ/with the boulder already in place, or did the boulder move into its current position after the holes were already ground.

From the brief description above, it is unlikely that the boulder moved, with the holes ending in a position fortuitously oriented with a small cave. (is at the peak, house sized, holes are completely smooth without prior weathering, etc; geologic process to "flip" such a boulder 180* in place. Sisyphean to roll it up, and so on)

More likely ground in its current position--which is not conducive to mortar utility for grinding acorns and such. ("Esmeralda, the acorn meal keeps falling in my hair and eyes! D'OH!")

(additional physical description can also help discern between mortar/metate/cupule)

Holes ground in non-horizontal rock surfaces have been associated with fertility rituals, and as portal representations, e.g. facilitating a portal for spirit travel.

Speculation with the paucity of evidence presented, and absent scientific rigor:

Atop a peak, 'neath a house-sized boulder, is this a spirit portal to the heavens?

In a cave...with *two* grinding holes... is this a couple of cupules as part of a fertility rite?

Might it reflect tree-carving geology-style, memorializing of a coupling in the cave, "Spencer loves Katherine?"

The romantic in each of us can decide for oneself.

(Pardon me for not doing homework for the board; a starting point would include work by Sr. State Archaeologist Breck Parkman)

Thanks very much for the TR, Robert, and please keep private any "special" locations.

kind regards,
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Postby Robert Hunt » Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:01 am

Hi all. Thanks Cynthia. Msug, I did not take pics of the mortars & regreted it within 1/2 a mile. There were multiple, parallel trails traversing some ridge spurs where I could see how the erosion of one led to the formation of another over time (not unlike Skyline). Arocknoid, hi & thanks. I want to express how deeply I understand & agree with your admonition of keeping "special" finds from public knowledge. Your points on the mortars all went thru my head at the time. First, I live in a small house. The "caves" were little more than spaces between rocks holding up boulder, I wouldn't say they were pointed towards a cave. There was much weathering on the rims & bottem (inverted), yet the walls were smooth. It seems highly unlikely that the boulder had flipped~160° due to even oxidation of all presently exposed surfaces. But...the location (top rock) would allow for easy turning if any of the underlying rocks shifted. They could very well be ritualistic, that was my first thought, but the shape & smooth walls (by smooth I mean polished postage stamp sized pieces w/weathered cracks between) really threw me. Again Arocknoid, I've seen peoples pottery, arrowhead, & even mortar/pestle collections & it kills me. When I find it, I analyze it, ponder it (romantically so) and cover it!
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Postby zippetydude » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:07 pm

Hi Robert. Cool TR. I have a question for you:

Why rebury things?

I agree that making a personal collection seems rather selfish, but a fascinating artifact donated to a local museum has the potential to fill many others with wonder, appreciation and understanding that they would not otherwise encounter. Buried in the ground, it might never be seen again. That seems most appropriate for items that were held sacred by the previous owners (those of the long forgotten civilization that had created the items) or perhaps an individual's remains. For an everyday sort of item, I would probably have brought it with me and given it to a museum (though I confess I would have been sorely tempted to "delay" donating it for a while until I could show it to all my friends and family).

I'm not criticizing you, by the way. You did no harm in leaving the items, and it was fully within your rights as the person who went out and did the exploring to make that decision. I'm just curious about what made you make that choice.

Thanks for the interesting topic. If you can find your way back to the rock with the mortar holes in it, I hope you'll post pics next time you're there!

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Postby Robert Hunt » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:17 pm

Hi Zip, count me as one of your lurking fans. I kind of anticipated this sort of reply. I've thought of those same points & my view has evolved over time. If I were to find something truly unique and/or culturally significant, I would notify the proper authorities (the two seperate ollas I mentioned were too remote for me to confidently transport safely). If I am in an easy to reach location, I tend to worry about yahoo's finding it next. In remote places I'll move it to a safe spot away from a cliff edge or streambed & leave it as exposed as I found it. If it's an arrowhead or pottery, museums have plenty, I'd rather roll the dice and let time expose it for the next situationally aware person. I don't mean to sound like only I should have the pleasure of seeing an artifact, I just worry about the 99% of the people I meet in our consumer oriented society. I will certainly get pics of the mortars (if that's what they are) because I intend on returning to the area. Robert
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Postby bluerail » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:02 pm

i make stuff by hand, im with zip , there is a culture history here that is most likely preferred by the craftsmen to be preserved. it teaches all of us about them, and about life.

its ashamed to have these things lost to the toss of a boulder, or a flood from the sky.

museums are a priceless hope for all of us.
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Postby Robert Hunt » Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:04 am

Wow, that's well put Steve.
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Postby Florian » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:08 am

Random pieces brought to a museum generally are not of much use. What matters is the context where they were found, the site, the surroundings, etc. I'm with Robert that artifacts should be left in the field.

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Postby bluerail » Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:09 pm

I've had small groups of items in museums and even single items
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Postby some guy » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:18 pm


Please don't encourage people to remove artifacts from the land!

But I'm sure the archaeologist at whatever land agency (BLM, BIA, State Park, USFS, etc) would be happy to receive a gps point and photo of your find. It's also possible they already have a detailed record of the site and by removing items you're essentially robbing the land of its cultural history.

Robert and Florian have the right idea!
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Postby bluerail » Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:25 pm

If those artifact have an earth mover aimed at them and have been missed ( or otherwise) from an archeological survey, and are simply about to be covered by the next hundredth and whatever golf course..who is doing the cultural robbing then?

In the mountains it is obviously more questionable but isn't it more prudent to find a way to have these items preserved for mankind to study and marvel over our history rather than leave to decay or be lost to shifting rocks or earth? I'm sure that's why you recommend giving the coordinates to someone right? So these items can be studied and preserved? I mean there is a point to study history? A point to having museums?
Last edited by bluerail on Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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