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Archive for February, 2010

Vinings Arborglyphs

In the midst of a suburban Atlanta neighborhood, a huge beech tree shades more than a manicured lawn and landscaped flower garden. Closer inspection revealed 3 peculiar marking on it’s smooth but scarred trunk; shadowy etchings clearly carved way in the past by human hands.

The landscape amenity of this front yard just went historic in value – it’s an arborglyph.

An increasingly rare fine outside old growth forests, and a very slim probability in developed areas, this prominent tree likely escaped destruction by aesthetic choice, not necessarily preservation of a visual artifact. However, the story and relevance in the above case likely added to the value of place.

I’ll spare the 101 lecture on the identity of arborglyphs here, but suffice to say “some” beech trees have survived for over 300 years, and were favored as message boards, boundary marks, memories, depictions, and locational maps as far back as the Creek and Cherokee Indians, settlement period, and through the Civil War. In the above case, the tree was very likely to the period of Cherokee Removal in 1838.

There is an increasing interest in finding and documenting old beech trees, which have writing and depictions (glyphs), on standing trees (arbors), thus the term “Arborglyphs.” They are in the same category as petroglyphs (depictions on stone), and their ancient predecessors in the Mayan and Egyptian hieroglyphics genre. Pre-historics (before written history), symbols were used by Native Americans at or near strategic points of reference, and Civil War soldiers would carve initials, dates, and messages as they passed.

Question is, how many more can be late found?

The recognition of beech trees as being source and study of these efforts has come late, many of which have been destroyed in constructional venues. Georgia has a private non-profit program for registering historical trees (usually species representative with age and profile), but none that recognizes, what elsewhere in the country are called “CMT’s” (culturally modified trees). We have (shall we say had) many in North Georgia.

There will be more on the subject coming, the premise here is to alert and advise that if the reader has, or knows of, a beech tree of approx. 2 feet in diameter, with “unusual” marking – to email me with the option to document and digitally photograph same.

No addressments or locations will be divulged, and no, there’s not going to be any effort to turn your front (or back yard) into a historical park! If anything, it makes a good story…

You can see arborglyphs being recorded in Cobb Co.  in gallery 06 at http://bleufalcon.org

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