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Notes on the Jarigole Pillar Site
Basalt Pillars at Jarigole
If you look at the SITE MAP, you will find 27 in situ pillar bases and about 50 other obvious pillar fragments that have been plotted. A relatively small, but unknown number of pillars, such as the one reconstructed on the left, have been completely removed from the ground. When the site was still being used for its original function, there may have been between 31 and 36 standing pillars of basalt. For those of you with an archaeoastronomical interest, there are 702 surviving lines of sight from an original array that may have numbered as many as 1,260.
The pillar shown on the left is reconstructed from five fragments. It is 2.5 m. long. A black lichen boundary implies that only 90 cm. of this pillar protruded above the surface; that it was buried to a depth of 160 cm.
The portion of the pillar that was exposed when standing is covered by black lichen. It has been decorated by pecking simple designs through the lichen and into the yellow, iron-rich weathering zone beneath. These designs are like those reported from West Turkana. They occur on a number of the pillar fragments and on bedrock outcrops (GbJj5) directly above the site.
Well developed patch of black lichen on the upper portion of the pillar. Notice the designs pecked 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.
If you examine the SITE MAP, you will see that most of the in situ pillars occur occur where the platform has been extended outward, away from the mound. This photo shows the curb containing the platform as a line of grass in the near background, the platform with pillar fragments and pillar bases in the left middle ground, and a group of four standing pillars that is surrounded by a low cairn that includes many white rocks (gypsum and stromatalites). The central mound is partially visible in the lower left cornor of the photo.
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.
Lizard's eye view of the central mound and adjacent pillars.
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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