> In their document "The cart ruts of Malta: an
> applied geomorphology approach",Derek Mottershead,
> Alastair Pearson & Martin Schaefer exposed
> scientific measurements that show how wood can
> wear out limestone. Think also how wood can be
> hardened with fire, and that cart wooden wheels
> can be replaced in a good maintenance process.
Thanks for the link. It was interesting how they "reverse-engineered" the carts from their determinations, but the whole paper is an example of reverse engineering of a kind seen all too often in archaeology(and seen plenty in "fringe" archaeology as well): working backwards from a conclusion toward observed data. In this case the conclusion is the ruts were made in stone by repeated passages of primitive wooden carts. All of the calculations and data gathering outlined in the paper were made with this conclusion in mind.
This doesn't mean the conclusion is incorrect. It just means that there could be data that falsifies the conclusion that the authors did not see, because they weren't looking for it. Confirmation bias, in other words.
For example, I was hoping there would be a geomorphological examination of the matrix of rock immediately below and to the sides of the ruts, and comparison to the matrix of a control(similar rock, sans ruts), like what is done with fossilized footprints. The matrix around and under a genuine print displays heightened density and lateral displacement, showing that the rock in which the print is found was in a semi-liquid state at the time the print was made. To my disappointment, such a test did not even seem to occur to the authors of the paper.
But why should it? The possibility the ruts were made before the rock hardened was the farthest thing from their minds because they already had their conclusions. Confirmation bias.
It's unfortunate, because such a test would definitively answer the question of whether the ruts were made before or after the rock hardened. If no compression and lateral displacement is evident in the rock material around the ruts, they were not made when the rock was soft, it's as simple as that. Yet such a study continues to not be made. Why?
As to the calculations made by the authors of the paper in support of their conclusion, I am suspicious of the "stress concentration factor" by which they magnified the erosive effects of cart wheels by a factor of ten. That seems ridiculous imho?? When removed from the calculation, carts carrying loads of a minimum of 6 tons or twelve thousand pounds is required before any "erosion by wheel" would take place, if their other assertions and methods are assumed to be correct...
....which brings me to my final point re: the paper. They concluded that on the stone of Clapham Junction, the passage of a single unladen cart was sufficient to "erode" the rock and begin to produce ruts. Why didn't they demonstrate this?? One run of a single unladen cart would take a few minutes at most. Yet they did not do it, nor has it been done by anyone else. Why?
> Then, we may infer that quarries remained in usage
> during bronze age, punic, greek and roman eras,
> allowing usage of metal rimmed wheels which
> deepened the tracks to a limit.
> The presence of punic tombs cut right across in
> the way of cart ruts, so interrupting them, shows
> that ruts existed before maybe Phoenicians.
> The fact that they run underwater and off cliffs
> shows that they preceeded the catastrophes in the
> Mediterranean, maybe the same which damaged the
> temples, or even before. We are now dealing with
> several thousand of years.
Even with metal-rimmed wheels, there is still the problem of ox-drawn carts following the same path so precisely, and repeating it enough times as to make deep ruts which their wheels could not escape. This is the process which I feel needs to be demonstrated. IMO, it won't be, because it is ludicrous. This is ignored only because alternatives are altogether unpalatable to mainstream thinking.
That said, your observations of quarry features around rut "hubs" is very interesting. Question: is there anything you noticed that definitely makes the quarry features and the ruts contemporary?