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Notes on the Jarigole Pillar Site
The Channel and Ground Ceramic Motif
The white bars are 1 cm. in length.
The typical "Channel and Ground" sherd is decorated with a background of comb stamping through which a series of broad channels meander to create a larger pattern.
Rim sherd from a carinated vessel. Notice the absence of comb stamping between the three roughly parallel channels crossing this sherd. Also the end of the comb corresponds with the edge of the channel in each case, sometimes invading the edge of the channel and sometimes pushing out the lip of the channel. Where the lower channel dives down on the left side, extra filler stamps have been added to fill the space adjacent to the channel. These features suggest that the basic design was laid out with the channels. Comb stamping was then used to fill out the design.
This sherd contains some fairly large pieces of shell that have "exploded" onto the surface during firing. It appears to have a light self slip that was compressed lightly burnished within the channels (note crackled surface). There also appears to be a faind vertical band of red paint that crosses the channels near the left-hand margin applied in line with the second vertical row of comb stamps (bottom left). After firing, red ochre was smeared over the upper part of the vessel, filling the comb stamps and converting them into red dots and bars of color.
Well developed patch of black lichen on the upper portion of the pillar. Notice the designs becked on the narrow face of the pillar.
Close-up of the top of the pillar showing the designs in greater detail.
In the center of the mound, there is a small cairn that probably postdates the Nderit-period use of the site. This cairn contains a flat slab that is decorated and may once have been part of short, slab-like pillar.
The decorations on pillar fragments from Jarigole are similar to decorations that are common at GbJj5, the petroglyph site that overlooks Jarigole. Pictured here is a decorated outcrop at GbJj5.
The petroglyph site, GbJj5, as seen from the Jarigole Pillar Site. The students in the foreground are plotting and cataloging surface finds, which are marked by red flags. Most of these are flakes and angular waste of basalt.
Pillar top as found several meters from its base.
Here the pillar top has been returned to pillar base from which it was decapitated. Notice the plunging fracture and step on the top of the pillar base.
Another in situ pillar base. Notice the sheared cone of percussion originating in the upper left-hand corner. All of the pillar stubs at the site have similar fractures that show they have been deliberately decapitated.
Three pillar fragments that fit together. The fracture on the right is heavily weathered and must have occurred relatively early in the history of the site. The fracture on the far left is also quite weathered. However, the central fracture is fresh looking; thus, the pillar segment of which it was a part was broken in half much more recently. This and other evidence suggests that pillars were decapitated and subdivided in numerous incidents over a long period of time.
Another pair of decapitated pillars. Note the light-colored pebbles. Their color derives from carbonates deposited by algae in the early stages of stromatalite formation. These are available at the base of the ancient beach where it has been breached by nearby gullies. They have been collected and brought to the site to be placed on and around the pillars.
Arc-shaped cluster of pillars, including some unusually small ones. Taken together with other large pieces of embedded basalt, these pillars may be part of a small ring, raising the possibility that pillars at Jarigole may have a number of primary and secondary uses.
Another pillar cluster with an adjacent cairn incorporating pillar fragments.
Close-up from above. Note the decoration on the large pillar base.
Hippo figurine fragment. Note the treatment of the tooth sockets and the lip plate. The bend at the base suggests that the mouth was opened wide. As the mouth is about 5.5 cm. wide and 11 cm. long, the entire figurine must be sizable indeed.
Pillar top and smaller pillar fragment incorporated into a small cairn. The whiter pebbles and small cobbles include both algal stormatalites and pieces of gypsum. The nearest gypsum sources are about a kilometer distant. Photographed at the beginning of the dry season.
View of the same cairn in the dry season.
Another small secondary cairn incorporating pillar fragments. It is not clear if the pillar fragments are attracting the offerings of stones that slowly accrete into cairns or if a burial or memorial cairns are being constructed and then added to periodically; perhaps both.
The plateau, center background, is formed by a basalt flow that once contained the pillars that you see in the foreground. At its left-hand corner, the flow plunges into a valley and it is here that pillars are being shed onto a steep talus slope.
Atop the plateau of pillar basalt looking across the valley to Mount Sibiloi.
This photograph is taken from the top of the pillar-laden talus slope looking back towards the Jarigole Pillar Site.
Pillars jutting out from the basalt flow just below the plateau rim rock.
Pillars shedding onto the top of the talus slope.
Pillars entrained in the talus near the top of the slope.
This photograph was taken from about a quarter of the way up the talus slope that contains pillars like those used at the Jarigole Pillar Site. Jarigole is marked on the right, and its satellite site, GbJj4, on the left. The Jarigole Laga is in the foreground.Click here for an annotated enlargement.
A lower outcrop of pillars sticking up through the talus slope.
Looking back at Jarigole from near the base of the talus slope. Provides a rough idea of the traverse required to move the pillars from their source to the site.
Harry Merrick photographing a pillar near the base of the talus.
Small figurine leg with the remains of a red paint or slip. The paint adheres best to the inner part of the leg and there is some polish on the outer part of the leg suggesting this figurine may have seen a fair amount of use prior to its burial.
Excavation seen through four of the pillars at the Jarigole Pillar Site. Early in the excavation. Note the back-dirt pile at the extreme right in the middle ground, well off the site.
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