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:
- Is there evidence at the site of the presence of a castaway?
- Does the site fit Gallagher’s specific description of a fire,
dead birds, and turtle?
- 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
- 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:
||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.