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Author Topic: Sextant box - as related to 7 site / Campfire artifacts discussion  (Read 4791 times)

richie conroy

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Simply put there is no evidence which allows the camp fires or a single camp fire to be safely assigned to Earhart or Noonan. The island was occupied from 1939 to 1965 by the PISS settlers and also was the site of a USCG LORAN station as well from 1944 to 1946. There was accordingly a great deal of human activity on the island and therefore probable contamination of that area by many people - the number of camp fires could simply be the result of multiple barbecues etc. over the period. Also while the number of camp fire hearths is known what appears to be unknown is the number of times each was reused. As the main food available fish etc. remains the same throughout the period then that also adds another level of complexity to the puzzle.

Malcolm

am sure if one of the p.i.s.s attempted to take a sextant box of a boat there would be a query as to how they obtained it ?

The same with other artifacts,

also why would ammunition rounds/radio parts,that Tighar have said belonged to loran station, be on a diffrent level of ground to a pre 1940 clear glass ointment pot  ?
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2012, 10:08:41 PM »


am sure if one of the p.i.s.s attempted to take a sextant box of a boat there would be a query as to how they obtained it ?

The same with other artifacts,

also why would ammunition rounds/radio parts,that Tighar have said belonged to loran station, be on a diffrent level of ground to a pre 1940 clear glass ointment pot  ?

Regarding the sextant box - why? The PISS settlers were free volunteers and carried their own possessions, and we have no indication anywhere that the sextant box belonged to Noonan, in fact that is the big question isn't it. Sextant boxes aren't proscribed items that require special legal dispensations or licences, and a PISS settler could have simply owned one using it for storage. Or perhaps the castaway who provided the skeleton came ashore with it - who knows. The skeleton is lost and it is enticing to think that is identification is Earhart, but as the skeleton is missing then that is a leap to far.

There is no indication in the archaeology that the artifacts found have any discrete stratigraphic relationships either with each other or with the skeleton. From what I can learn from the reports the site is awfully shallow and the occupation level is horizontal rather than vertical. They can have come from any period - just because an item is made in say 1937 doesn't indicate that it was deposited in 1937, all it means is that it could not have been deposited before 1937. The ammunition can be dated to the LORAN period but then we don't expect that Earhart was carrying an M1 (not issued for testing until 1941) or a Colt M1911, or a .22 of some description. IIRC Gallagher had a .22 Woodsman?

My experience of site stratigraphy is that if the occupation levels are shallow and on hard ground this tends to spread the artifacts horizontally and therefore doesn't really provide ideal conditions for discerning relations through their relative positions above or below each other. If you have a built up series of occupation levels of site debris then the vertical stratigraphy is much clearer and relations are more easily defined. The Seven Site is not of the latter formation. But then given the relatively short occupation of the island then one wouldn't expect much build up of occupation debris. So you are back to the essential problem which is finding one artifact which is undeniably Earhart's or Noonan's. So far that hasn't happened despite the theorizing. 

Also there is absolutely nothing that can date the usage of the hearths, or for that matter the number of times each was used or by who. They are an interesting feature but they only tell us that at some time people have had barbecues there. The time period is much too short for C14 to be used.   
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John Kada

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Re: Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2012, 11:02:34 PM »


 If we can equate an article that could be irrefutably tied to AE or FN with 'aircraft' wreckage (note in bottle in AE's handwriting, a known and distinct personal item, etc.) that is precisely what TIGHAR seems to still search for - as do others who search elsewhere.  Short of that all we have is some level of confidence based on our own perusal and judgment.

It would be nice for some so-far not-found fire feature to have a bottle with a faded note in it written and signed by AE and / or FN in their handwriting...  ;)

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Well in this case given the problem that there is no real cultural differences in the material assemblage on the island, i.e. basically all are what you would expect from a mix of European influenced Islander debris and straight Western origin, then you would have to have something with 100% provenance to the missing fliers.

To date all the material evidence that TIGHAR have advanced to support their case lacks that crucial direct attribution and that is why there is so much debate and the lack of resolution. If TIGHAR comes up with something from the videos that requires the same level of reconstruction as the Bevington object to make a case then clearly that will not be accepted as anything more than a possible demonstration that their hypothesis is correct. It will be in the same category as the reassessment of the skeletal data which we know did not meet uniform acceptance, or the various attempts to link some artifacts like the freckle ointment jar to Earhart etc. The simple reason for this judgement is that second party reconstructions and possible attributions are not primary evidence - they are at best informed guesses.

That is wisdom itself I think.  Much that we have is tantalizing - but even the best among that inventory is ambiguous enough to leave us in the fix of not having proven the hypothesis.  Back to the note in the bottle in the fire feature...  :P

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Now I may be wrong but I doubt that after 23 years or so TIGHAR want the same state of limbo to continue anymore than anyone else interested in the fate of Earhart and Noonan. But if the video shows what is clearly and unmistakably an engine or some major structural component of the Electra then that is the answer right there - clear and indisputable. Or, failing that, the next trip finds some directly attributable artifact or skeletal material on the island then that also is the answer to the question. However if they don't find either then the puzzle remains - I don't think after all this time and effort that TIGHAR wants that because ultimately time and natural decay will eventually remove any evidence that remains, wherever it may be.

There is one article that might yet turn out to be the long sought after smoking gun: the sextant box found
with the castaway's remains. We don't have the box, but we do know that it had two numbers written on it, and the idea that these numbers indicate USNO and manufacturer's serial numbers of the sextant the box once held seems likely to be essentially correct.

If a chain of custody of a sextant having those two numbers can be traced to FN/AE then I'd say we have our smoking gun, on the other hand if the chain of custody is traced to the navigator of the S.S. Lovee, a schooner which was lost at sea in 1932 on a three hour cruise from Fiji with millionaire Thurston Howell II aboard , then Tighar would have lost the most evocative clues ever found on Gardner, i.e., the castaway and the sextant box. I think Malcom is correct in his assessment of the degree of proof offered by all the other artifacts found on Niku.

The chances of finding a record of, much less tracing the fate of, USN surplus sextant serial number 3500/1542 are probably slim to nil; most likely the key documents were taken from a warehouse and burned back in '40, along with Rosebud. But there is a slim chance that somewhere out there, in US government records, the records of some shipping company, the family posessions of Thurston Howell IV  ;), or somewhere else, those records still exist. Maybe they're available on the web, maybe they're available on paper in an archive. As slim as this possibility may be, it is the one possibility that all readers of this forum can investigate; they don't need to raise funds to rent a submersible, they don't need to fly to Fiji and convince authorities to let them look around governement buildings looking for bones.

If this piece of perishable information hasn't yet gone the way of Rosebud then you dear reader can be the one to prove the Niku hypothesis!....
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 12:56:15 AM by John Kada »
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John Kada

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Re: Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2012, 07:26:43 PM »

If you've not done so, check out "Can you add to the list of sextant numbers?" in the "Join the Search" panel.  Much has been done to chase this point down and yes, it could hold a key to a part of the mystery.

 I have seen that thread. One aim of that thread, if I understand it, is to amass a list of sextant numbers to look for a pattern that might indicate when a sextant with USNO 3500/1542 identification numbers was at Naval Observatory maintenance shop, which would verify Tighar's interpretation of what the two numbers mean and would have implications for whether that sextant could have ended up with FN and AE on their last flight. My understanding is that no clear pattern has emerged but all the same I think it's a good idea to continue to expand the list and to try to learn about the history of each sextant on the list.

But Jeff, I’m not clear on how the sextant list would help clear up the post-USN history of sextant 3500/1542 (short of finding it, that is). What am I not understanding?...

In any case, besides the sextant list there may of course be other ways to answer to learn what happened to the sextant after it left the USN, and that was what my little exhortation above was about. I started a thread hoping to encourage forum readers turn their talents and energy to trying to figure out the post USN whereabouts of sextant 3500/1542. From Ameliapedia I gather that Tighar has looked into this in the past and hit a wall, but who knows what a fresh look at this topic might yield.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 07:43:31 PM by John Kada »
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