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Author Topic: Campfires at the "7 Site"  (Read 41496 times)

Randy Conrad

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Campfires at the "7 Site"
« on: August 01, 2012, 05:34:11 PM »

Hi! Last night I received an email from Joe Cerniglia in regards to questions that arose bout matters concerning on how campfires were started at the "7th" site. Joe wanted me to tell you that those interested might look at the ingredients of St. Joseph's N & B Family Linament. On the bottle you will find ingredients of Kerosene, Turpentine, Cepsicum, Pine Tar, Oils of Pine Needles, Hemlock, Origenum, Cedarwood, Citronella, and Camphor. Joe goes on to tell me that today at most Stop n Shops you can get Citronella Torch fuel for camping and campfires. He believes this may be the case why a green bottle that was found at the campsite in a campfire pit was burned  and very black on the bottom, indicating a very hot fire! As I read his email, and reading up on some of your comments in regards to Amelia and Fred taking shelter on the Norwich City, I wandered if this be the case...what kind of inventory items they would find on the Norwich City, to start a fire, or what kind of survival items that were available and what items of food were left behind? Now we all know that the Norwich City caught fire. But, does anyone know how much of it was badly burned and what was left? We've discussed rocket lines, which we all believe is the reasoning behind the ropes in the Rov videos on the reefs edge and how the survivors made their way to land. We know by statements that certain provisions of food and clothing articles were taken, but wander how much was left behind? Beings Amelia, a Kansas girl at heart, and I a Kansas native, can bout tell anyone, that in Kansas if you wanna start a campfire, you're gonna have to improvise! In other words, gas is not the only thing that can start a fire. As a child my favorite thing to do was take a magnifiying glass and start ants on fire, then firecrackers, and then you know the rest of the story. Is it possible, that part of the sextant lense could have been used to start a fire...or was there a magnifying glass handy on the Norwich City, or was the magnifying glass used for Amelia's world flight? Like Joe mentioned, several family household products back then could have definately been used to start a fire. Basically, in this case an accelerant! Question...how much fuel or fuel cans were left on the Norwich City??? Did Amelia have ration cans on the Electra, but not enough to get her to Howland! Basically, two gallons of gas is not gonna get me there...but would be handy for several nites for a fire and a light at night! We all know by now that the Electra was noted as being called "The Flying Laboratory"! Hmmm! I wonder what else she had on that plane? As for the "Dr. Berry's Freckle Ointment" jar found at one of the fire pits, I was informed this afternoon by a friend at work who is a chemist...and I had asked him the question in regards to freckle ointment if it will burn. Told him the story and the story behind the jar, and he told me that mercury will burn...But, in this case if the fire reaches 72 degrees above room temperature then the volatile state of the product becomes a very aggressive vapor gas. If this be the case...then 12% of that little jar was death waiting to happen. My friend believes that if this particular jar was found in the fire, its most likely it was used to keep a fire going, because of its oily content, but eventually over time will kill someone from inhaling it! If this be the case...the castaways could have died in their sleep from this while the campfire was going on! As for other things to start a fire...might have been the ole caveman style of stick and a stone. Which I highly not seeing in this situation, unless you're Tom Hanks and "Wilson". Speaking of Wilson...anyone find any packages on the island of interest? Just a thought!!! Anyway, speaking from experience, I believe that whoever started the fires, had several variables to work with. My question for those who have been to the island and the site itself...is what was the reasoning behind so many campfire pits? You would think over time if you had that many, that eventually you would run out of wood or something to keep them going? That is something that has me baffled for quite sometime! Anyway, wanted to bring this up and hear from those of you who have been to the island!!!! Thanks!!!
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2012, 06:48:47 PM »

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. 
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Randy Conrad

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2012, 11:00:12 PM »

  For those coasties that had played a special part of the expedition of the seventh site, and had done many archeological digs at the site...did anyone by chance take measurements of the depth of the fire pit or fire pits? Really, interested in knowing what kind of depth was left after the campfires were used.
  Several years ago, I helped out with a dig at Fort Hays in Hays, Kansas. This was George Custer's last post before he made a major error that cost him his life. Anyway, as we were doing our grid digs around the wellhouse, we noticed bits of shale coming from the sublayer of dirt. After digging down bout 4-6 inches more we found several layers of shale and came to the conclusion that there were two different time periods at the fort. One was during Custer's reign and then the other was after the fort closed up.  Anyway, our main objective was to find out how long the fort was there by using the walkpath around the well as a guide. The walk path was formed for many paths, by the ladies cooking and cooling their food at the well. Eventually, over time the walk path became bigger, and then bigger. It goes on to show you that they never wasted what they want!
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Matt Revington

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2012, 10:54:19 AM »

Randy
My understanding ( from another thread) is that ground in the seven site is coral rubble, no real topsoil,  material tends to sift up and down depending on size, weather disturbance, crab activity etc.  Therefore there is not consistent, identifiable stata for archeological purposes making a useful analysis like you allude to very difficult.  Someone with  direct experience can correct me on this.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2012, 11:13:44 AM by Matt Revington »
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don hirth

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2012, 02:41:17 PM »

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.

Hey, fellow 'searchers'........another wild thought entered my mind after reading this. Our birgus latros friends.....if push came to shove......and fish and birds temporarily unobtainable, could she
/they have bludgeoned a few of these critters for sustenance?? Resident experts, weigh in.
dlh
 
« Last Edit: August 03, 2012, 02:50:26 PM by Bruce Thomas »
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 07:18:56 PM »


Hey, fellow 'searchers'........another wild thought entered my mind after reading this. Our birgus latros friends.....if push came to shove......and fish and birds temporarily unobtainable, could she
/they have bludgeoned a few of these critters for sustenance?? Resident experts, weigh in.

No reason why not - after all they are just another crustacean. Going on their intrusiveness I know that if I had been on the island I would have bludgeoned more than one or two just for self protection.  :D
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 09:44:52 PM »

"Gotta love crab. In the nick of time too. I couldn't take much more of those coconuts. Coconut milk is a natural laxative. That's something Gilligan never told us"
Noland

If the inverting eye piece was used to start fires, the fires may be spread out because that is where the sun was at the time. The fire spot located where the body would be in the shade of a big tree but close enough to the edge of the shade so the eypiece was in the sun to start the fire.
I think the ointment pot was a good choice for scooping water out of small recesses due to the shape of the opening and its small size. 
3971R
 
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Thom Boughton

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2012, 03:57:53 PM »


Hey, fellow 'searchers'........another wild thought entered my mind after reading this. Our birgus latros friends.....if push came to shove......and fish and birds temporarily unobtainable, could she/they have bludgeoned a few of these critters for sustenance?? Resident experts, weigh in.


If I recall correctly, there is mention in someone's journal (Gallagher, I believe...but won't say for sure) about the colonials being quite ecstatic when they first arrived and saw the coconut crabs....later running off to find some for cooking.    Therefore...clearly they are edible. 

No doubt that 'if push came to shove' I'm sure the idea would, at the very least, occur.  (Get hungry enough and you'll be willing to eat the south end of a northbound skunk!)



tb
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2012, 11:31:32 PM »

"Gotta love crab. In the nick of time too. I couldn't take much more of those coconuts. Coconut milk is a natural laxative. That's something Gilligan never told us"
Noland

If the inverting eye piece was used to start fires, the fires may be spread out because that is where the sun was at the time. The fire spot located where the body would be in the shade of a big tree but close enough to the edge of the shade so the eypiece was in the sun to start the fire.
I think the ointment pot was a good choice for scooping water out of small recesses due to the shape of the opening and its small size.

O.K. try this analogy. You are tired, exhausted, thirsty. Yesterday you spent a lot of your energy digging a fire pit and building a fire. Today you want to light another fire and you can't find your book of matches so you go out looking for them. After a while you find your book of matches about a hundred meters away from your laboriously dug fire pit. Do you (a) dig another fire pit where you found the book of matches or do you (b) carry the book of matches back to your original fire pit and use the matches to light a fire there?

IF the local trees shaded your fire pit so that you couldn't use the lens to ignite the tinder in the fire pit why wouldn't you just carry a bit of the tinder out into the sunny area, light it there with the lens, and then carry it back to the fire pit and get the barbeque going?

If you have an answer for that one then how long would it take a person of normal intelligence to figure out where to build a second fire pit so as to avoid the shade problem in the future? Why would they ever need more than two fire pits?

gl
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 11:33:49 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2012, 10:06:37 AM »

Gary,

are they fire pits? My take is that they are just fires on the coral rubble surface (but prove me wrong).

If they wern't fire pits then the creation and use of them would be far less bothersome.
I thought they were more than just scorched marks on the ground, but even if that were true, why would you need more than just two?

gl
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2012, 12:16:42 PM »


Why would they ever need more than two fire pits?

gl

I am not sure where you are getting the pits from. Since they found bottles in the fire feature they could have been used to boil water. Therefore, if that is the reason for the fire, then only one fire at a time is needed.
They could be spread out because while the castaway was boiling the water and/or cooking, they wanted to be in the shade while doing so. To do this and still get the eyepiece in the sun they would have to pick a spot where the sun was at that time in relation to the shade of the tree. Again you could have more than one fire location because the sun moves.

Similar reasoning could apply even if you are not using the eyepiece. In the morning you set your fire in the west side of your shade tree so you can be in the shade.  In the evening you set your fire on the east side so you can be in the shade.   In the middle of the day closer to the trunk, and late or early in the day farther away from the trunk.
Time of year would determine if you are more north or south of the tree.
3971R
 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2012, 12:24:14 PM by Gregory Lee Daspit »
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Bob Lanz

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2012, 12:45:05 PM »

Quote
I thought they were more than just scorched marks on the ground, but even if that were true, why would you need more than just two?

I think you are right Gary,  I thought I read here that there were ten or eleven, and that they were arranged in a circle pattern, likely to keep the Coconut crabs at bay during the night.  I suppose that is why they needed more than two.
Doc
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Bob Lanz

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2012, 01:06:07 PM »

I honestly don't understand the discussion of how, where and why they made fire on Niku.  People have been making fire since the dawn of mankind.  A simple rock, a stick and a bit of tinder, whether in the Sunlight, under an overcast sky or under the shade of a tree gets it done.   The controlled use of fire was an invention of the Early Stone Age.  Certainly they could have used a lens from and instrument but that was not their only option.
Doc
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2012, 06:39:51 PM »

There were no "fire pits."  We've never used that term.  We didn't see anything that looked like a hole dug to contain a fire. There would be no need to do that.  We noted as a "fire feature" any place where we found charcoal or ash, but not every "fire feature" was necessarily a campfire.  A burning stick laid on the ground to discourage crabs might leave charcoal behind that we would catalog as a "fire features."  We actually have only a few areas where there is enough charcoal and ash to suggest an actual campfire and some of those may be due to later activity.  Only two of the "fire features" are probable campfires that are associated with artifacts and bird/fish bones that suggest use by a western castaway.
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Campfires at the "7 Site"
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2012, 07:38:07 PM »


Wow - very good lesson in archeology, Malcolm.  Those are great points and give me much to think about.


Thanks Jeff - I'm basically a prehistoric archaeologist so the archaeology of the various occupations of Nikumaroro fall within something I understand all too well. Those sorts of sites are the hardest things to understand if you are trying to pinpoint one particular event. That is why I am forever "demanding"  ;D clear provenance as proof rather than hopeful association. The whole occupation time frame is so small and the material culture so similar that in lieu of an aircraft wreck (obviously we await further news) clear provenance is the only acceptable answer - anything less will not close the case.

In archaeology there are a great many "possibles" and "might bes" but that is simply the archaeologist admitting that because of limited material remains then any conclusions drawn can't be certain unless the specific case is so good as to allow it. With the Earhart case a conclusion that is based on what is currently the evidence from Nikumaroro is just not going to satisfy any reasonable professional opinion. It might satisfy optimists without a background in assessing material remains but that is not what I would imagine TIGHAR wants - I imagine they want case proved.
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