Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Outlaw Carving, Part One

This article is about a specific carved symbol I ran across while working a map. Again, this is to show you what a symbol can mean based on how it is made and it is not intended to say a symbol has a specific meaning that will be the same everywhere you see it. Carved symbols are about interpretation. You have to interpret the symbol the same way the person who carved the symbol meant for it to be interpreted. These articles are meant to give you an idea of how to look at symbols.

The symbol, pictured at the top of this article, was the first symbol in a map that had six separate sections to it. At first when I saw this symbol I thought it was depicting a valley that was on the opposite side of the hill that this carving was on. The valley looked exactly like the carving and I spent many months trying to make the rest of the carving work in the valley. As you have probably already figured out, it didn’t work that way.

As much as I tried to make this symbol part of the terrain it just wasn’t going to work that way. Now comes the part where hindsight made me feel really stupid and I’m sure more than one of you will think the same thing. Keep in mind this was a learning experience, as every map is. This symbol was carved on a bluff on the side of a small hill. Growing out of the base of the bluff where the carving is located is a large tree, a tree that I had to lean against to take this photo. A tree I ignored for many months except for the fact that it was in my way while I was trying to figure out the carving.

Yes, that’s right, the carving was depicting the very same tree I was ready to cut down because it was in my way! To make it even simpler the symbol that forms the ninety degree line that goes through the carving was simply telling me to put my back to the bluff, which is flat by the way, and take a line through the tree. This tree was one of three that formed a triangle you needed to find to continue on with the map. At this point you are probably wondering how I figured out which direction to go to find the other two trees. In this instance, the mapmaker was kind enough to drive four large nails into the tree in a straight line up and down. I found these using a metal detector by the way. These nails were the “key” to starting me on my way. By using a knife and cutting away the bark so I could see the nails it was easy to see what direction they were going into the tree. By going the exact opposite direction, away from the bluff, I found the second tree.

This is a prime example of using the KISS theory. Keep It Simple Stupid! Had I done this I would have been working through the map months sooner than I actually did. What can I say, I’ve never been accused of being a genius!

I will follow up this article with another showing how I knew there was a triangle and how I found all three trees.

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