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    RESEARCH UPDATE:  The Rock Fragment Mystery

Question:  Why are so many small fragments of fossil rock strewn around the Sukeek's Cabin Site?

Hypothesis: Perhaps larger rocks exploded as a result of being in or around the hog-boiling fires set by the Fowlers who processed hogs next to the site in the 1930's.

Experiment: Three fossil rocks were taken from the site and each subjected to a different procedure to test the hypothesis under a number of variables. Rack A, the smallest of the three, was placed at the center of a small bonfire for two hours, and then, upon its removal, was dropped immediately into a bucket of ice water.  This was an attempt to imitate the conditions had the rock been heated and then thrown into water to bring it to a boil. Rock B was soaked in a bucket of water for half an hour before being placed at the edge of the fire, as may have happened had rocks from the hog boiling drum been removed in order to be reheated. Rock C simply sat by the edge of the fire as it burned and then was doused with cold water when the fire was put out.

Results: The hypothesis turned out to be incorrect, as none of the rocks exploded or even cracked. Also, the rock faces that had been exposed to the fire turned black by the end of the experiment, while none of the fragments found around the site had any discoloration. This further indicates that fire was not involved in their creation.

Kristen Wenger, Public Archaeology Volunteer, conducted the experiment and prepared this report, August 2001.

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