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