Since Sequoia’s ancient mystery: Prehistoric rock basins was published two weeks ago there have been a number of 3Rivers News readers who weighed in on the subject. Here’s the plan: Start the conversation and see who might know what about these curious bedrock basins.
The research and opinions of many can add a great deal to a 1925 take on the subject albeit some of the best minds of the day.
It’s especially helpful to provide links to recent research that demonstrate, without a doubt, the rock basins do indeed remain a mystery. The basins in situ with giant sequoias were made for something that today may be incomprehensible.
Here’s some of what we do know:
(1) Modoc people to the north and east of Lassen country used the basins to evaporate salt.
(2) The basins in Sequoia country are not near significant salt deposits or saltwater sources — they were used for something else.
(3) The basins occur from northernmost California to Lake Isabella on the south. They are not exclusively found in Tulare County.
(4) There is ethnographic evidence among Yokuts that the basins were used as “hot tubs.” Basins filled with snowmelt were heated with hot rocks to soothe the aching muscles of the elderly who made the arduous journey from the flatlands below.
(5) The buildup over eons of forest duff and downed trees have obscured a huge number of the basins. The number of known basins might only be the tip of the iceberg of the actual number that are extant.
Some researchers believe that the basins become larger as they occur in more southerly locales. Orlando Barton, known as the “Sage of Mineral King” owing to his knowledge of geology, wrote in an early 20th century article that the basins he encountered near the Eden Creek Grove (Homer’s Nose) were the largest and at the highest elevation.
Multiple accounts suggest that the basins were abandoned by the people who made them during a single event like a volcanic eruption that may have occurred 11,000 years ago. What do you believe?
Disclaimer: Bedrock basins are archaeological sites. It is illegal to excavate, disturb, or remove any forest materials from