Earhart Project Research Bulletin #33
November 20, 2001
Mysteries of the Seven Site

The Seven Site is an obscure patch of nearly impenetrable bush on one forgotten corner of an abandoned island in the middle of a vast ocean. It may be the place where Amelia Earhart lived for a time as a forlorn and desperate castaway. It may be the place where she died. If it is, we may be able to prove it — but we need your help.

Seven site cleared
This was the Seven Site on Day 8 (September 5, 2001) of the Niku IIII expedition. The TIGHAR team was doing a final cleanup after a solid week of backbreaking clearing in hundred-degree heat. We were hoping that the archeological work that could now begin would justify the investment of time and sweat. We were not disappointed.


We were there to test a specific hypothesis:

In 1940, British Colonial Officer Gerald Gallagher found a partial human skeleton at a supposed castaway’s campsite somewhere on this end of the island. Our analysis of the available information about that discovery leads us to suspect that the castaway was Earhart and that the discovery was made at the place we call the Seven Site.
Our methodology was designed to answer a number of questions:
  1. Is there evidence at the site of the presence of a castaway?
  2. Does the site fit Gallagher’s specific description of a fire, dead birds, and turtle?
  3. Does anything about the site explain the presence of what appear to be man-made trails in a 1938 aerial photo taken before the island was officially inhabited?
  4. Is a man-made hole at the site the place where a skull found by a work party was buried and later dug up by Gallagher?

Affirmative answers to some or all of these questions might confirm that we had found the place where the castaway had lived and died, but the biggest question was the last one:

5. Are there human remains or diagnostic artifacts present at the site which make it possible to identify the castaway?

Over the next twelve days, explorations and excavations at the Seven Site revealed a rich and complex array of hidden features. As with most archaeological sites, several kinds of activity over the years have left a jumble of evidence that must be carefully sorted out. It is apparent, for example, that a large water tank and a variety of construction materials were brought to the site by the colonists at some time, probably before the war. Also, during the war, American servicemen from the U.S. Coast Guard Loran station came to the site on one or more occasions for informal target practice with their .30 caliber M-1 carbines (as evidenced by numerous shell casings and the shattered remains of at least two ceramic plates, one of which bears the Coast Guard logo). However, not all of the artifacts can be reliably ascribed to these known activities – quite the contrary.

Click on each topic to read our results and reasoning, and to see photographs of the artifacts recovered:

  1. Is there evidence at the site of the presence of a castaway?
  2. Does the site fit Gallagher’s specific description of a fire, dead birds, and turtle?
  3. Does anything about the site explain the presence of what appear to be man-made trails in a 1938 aerial photo taken before the island was officially inhabited?
  4. Is a man-made hole at the site the place where a skull found by a work party was buried and later dug up by Gallagher?
  5. Are there human remains or diagnostic artifacts present at the site which make it possible to identify the castaway?

Archived Research Bulletins Earhart Project Home Page

About TIGHAR Join TIGHAR TIGHAR Projects TIGHAR Publications Contract Services
The TIGHAR Store Blog TIGHAR Forum Contact TIGHAR TIGHAR Home

Copyright 2017 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org  •   Phone: 610.467.1937   •   JOIN NOW