|Volume 12 Number 2/3
|Artifact 2-2-G-8, Shoe heel
||October 1991 during TIGHAR’s Niku II expedition.
||Cat’s Paw, a division of The Biltrite Corporation.
||This is a rubber shoe heel measuring 3 and 1/8 inches in length
by 2 and 7/8 inches across its greatest width. It is nominally 3/16 inch thick
and is pierced by 8 nail holes in which remnants of the washers are still present.
The nails appear to have rusted completely away and one nail did not penetrate
all the way through the heel. The exterior (bottom) surface is considerably
worn, especially on one side toward the rear. The interior surface exhibits
no discernible codes or markings.
||The rubber is hard and exhibits the same degree of degradation
seen in 2-2-G-7/1, the Cat’s Paw heel.
||This is an original heel, slightly larger and more worn than
the replacement heel found in the same area. Re-heeling, by necessity, is done
to both shoes of a pair. It seems apparent then, that this heel is from a second
pair of shoes.
||The presence of any shoe in this location would be remarkable.
The location is far from any settled part of the island and the hot, hard coral
rubble is hardly conducive to barefoot strolling. Rubber shower-shoes and an
occasional sneaker can be found washed up on the ocean beach, but this location
is much too far inland for that explanation. That two pair of shoes (one of
them belonging to an American woman) should have been abandoned or lost in
this place is odd in the extreme. At the same time, the distribution of the
fragments and the absence of the other two shoes suggests at least some scattering
from the original point of deposition (assuming all four shoes started out
in roughly the same place). Because all of the recovered fragments float, water
would seem to be the most logical agent of distribution – specifically,
flooding of the lagoon about 200 feet away. Logically then, the shoes were
originally deposited somewhere between the point of discovery and the lagoon
shore. This also tracks with the old island story of a woman’s skeleton
with American shoes found under the bushes about five feet from the shore.
||The various shoe fragments are most probably from the shoes said
to have been found in this location with the bones of a white woman and man
in 1938. It is very likely that the shoes, and the bones, belonged to Amelia
Earhart and Fred Noonan.