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Author Topic: Photo Essay -> Ren tree  (Read 25477 times)

Daniel Paul Cotts

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Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« on: August 05, 2010, 10:46:28 AM »

In the TIGHAR Facebook photo essay from Aug 5th there is a prominent tree in several of the pics shot at the Seven Site. Is that "the" ren tree? I note a crotch about six feet up. In prior posts folks have mentioned the possibility of the castaway sleeping in a tree to escape crabs. Could a person sleep in that crotch? If so, and considering that skeletal remains were found at the base of the tree, the possibility exists that the person died while in the tree. An even more remote possibility is that a piece of bone may still be in the crotch of the tree encased in bark/wood.
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Mark Petersen

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2010, 12:54:28 PM »

Interesting question, can crabs climb Ren trees or just Coconut trees?  I assume that if the diameter of the Ren tree is small enough that it wouldn't present much of an obstacle.  If a castaway took a stick with them it would be an easy process to periodically clear them off the tree when needed, so it might present a good night time refuge.  If the castaway spent a lot of time at and around the Ren tree it seems like a worthwhile effort to go over the tree in detail looking for marks or engravings.  As far as a piece of bone being encased in the tree, I think you're right that it's probably a remote possibility.  My guess is that if the castaway were that close to the end that she/he would probably not have the strength to climb the tree.  If she/he did climb the tree and expire, it's most likely that the the wind, crabs or decomposition process would all lead to the body falling out of the tree more or less intact before it had fully decomposed.  That's just my guess though.   
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2010, 07:46:53 PM »

 Great photos. What kind of beer is that in the green can?  I had beer in a green can once in Manila and got the diarrhea.   :o
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Mike Piner

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2010, 08:33:43 PM »

Facebook seems to be great exosure for Tighar, and that is good.  I don't do facebook and my question is why does the websit not have access to such pictures?  LTM.   Mike Piner, 2777
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2010, 08:34:07 PM »

The prominent tree is indeed the Ren tree.  I suppose it would be possible to sleep in the tree, but not easy.  I've seen a bear do it by straddling the crotch of a large branch and simply hanging for a few hours while they dozed.

The crabs can and do climb all kinds of trees, but they have to have a reason.  The strawberry hermits usually don't climb much above a couple of feet, but the big Cocos will climb higher.  If a person were up there, I don't see any reason why the crabs wouldn't get to them unless they were way out on a limb, and that would be a difficult place to sleep.  

As for bones, if they were there, we would have seen them.  We used the tree for all kinds of things - hanging our packs, machetes, trowels, hammocks, tarp chords, whatever we needed to get off the ground.  Interesting thought though.

Green can in my hand is, I believe, Fiji Export, a version of the popular Fiji Bitters.  Now a division of Fosters out of AUS.  Didn't cause any intestinal disturbances, and was greatly enjoyed at the end of a long hot day - as you can see.
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Ashley Such

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2010, 09:26:33 PM »

This indeed is an interesting question. I guess it would depend on how big the crotch of the tree was... But, let's break it down:

~Could a person be able to fit in the crotch (depending on how big)?
~Wouldn't you think after a few days (if the castaway was at one time bare-foot) that our castaway would get an infection from climbing the tree so many times that (assuming AE is our castaway) she would have to sleep on the ground?
~How would you keep the crabs out? There's probably no use in trying to get the crabs away from you.


As for bones, that'd be interesting. I think, though, that either the sand/soil would bury them up after all these years, or the crabs got to them. Intersting thought, though.
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2010, 09:40:38 AM »

Do we think it is 'the Ren tree' or just 'a Ren Tree'?

Are there other Ren tree's nearby or the remains of one such as a stump?
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010, 05:53:13 AM »

I thought that this area had been cleared for coconut planting during colonization?? although they failed, would this tree not have to have grown after that failed crop of coconut trees??
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2010, 12:34:10 PM »

This area was reserved for Galagher/Government so I don't think it was cleared for coco planting.  The islanders wouldn't have touched it because of the skeleton.
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Zach Reed

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2010, 11:03:14 PM »

Again, if crabs and centipedes were such a problem that our castaway was driven to A) surrounding themselves with fire circles and/or B) attempt to sleep in a tree, wouldn't it make more sense for them to spend their nights on the S.S. Norwich City? As Ric has mentioned, this was reachable at low tide (correct me if I have that wrong). Even if it was a burned out hulk, if pests were such a hazard onshore, it would seem like a normal human response to sleep nights on a safe "hulk", and forage on shore during the day.

I say this not to question the Seven Site; I think it is firmly established that this was AE/FN. But sometimes I do wonder whether they were ever on the north side of the island at all, save perhaps for a single cursory recon.
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Zach Reed

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2010, 12:10:55 AM »

Would somebody clarify what is TIGHAR's officially accepted list of items at the Seven Site belonging to AE/FN?

I've surfed through the site here, and I think the list is:

Personal Items:
Ladies Compact Case (rouge and shards of mirror)
Pocket Knife (handle and stub of blade)
Possible leather jacket (parts of a zipper)

Other:
Benedictine jug
Wooden box (dimensions?)
piece of a navigation device (glass lens)


Is there anything else? At one time I thought I saw something about a piece of glass or plexiglass that could be used to catch rain, and happened to be the shape of a cockpit window. But I don't know if that was at the Seven Site, or somewhere else, or a theory that was dropped altogether.



Now, in terms of what items were brought from elsewhere on the island to the Seven Site, that we can safely attribute to AE/FN, I think all we have are the pieces of tin and asphalt siding that were used in cooking, correct? Believed to be brought over from the short-lived plantation on the NW side?


Finally, in terms of what items that are elsewhere on the island that are thought to likely belong to AE/FN, I think we have the "catspaw" piece of shoe near the coconut grove by the small entrance to the lagoon (south side of the island). And was that coconut grove there in AE/FN's time, or did it come later?


Can someone clarify for me here...I've read through the different expeditions, but of course thinking naturally changed as a result of different findings by Ric and Tom, and I'm trying to get educated on what is currently being accepted as very likely belonging to AE and or FN.


Thanks!
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2010, 08:58:39 AM »

I thought that this area had been cleared for coconut planting during colonization?? although they failed, would this tree not have to have grown after that failed crop of coconut trees??

I think some tree coring was done on Niku VI to see whether rings could be counted.  I haven't heard the results, if any.

Some work with available aerial photography from the early days might help answer the question whether the current ren stands any chance of being the same ren under which the bones were found--but that's above my pay grade.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2010, 09:09:16 AM »

... The islanders wouldn't have touched it because of the skeleton.

We shouldn't lightly make up stories about what the islanders would or would not have done.

To me, it seems as though they carried on the work they were sent to do after they buried the skull that they found.  Then they came back and did some more work in the same area, finding more things to send to Fiji.

On balance, I'd say that they treated the skull with respect but without any undue superstition.  Of course, the story told by Floyd Kilts attributes some terror to the natives and alleges that they threw the bones overboard after Gallagher died, but no contemporary (1941) sources support that allegation.  Gallagher died on a British ship and I doubt that the natives would have had access to any bones on board with him at the time.  Of course, that does not mean that other bones found after his death might not have gotten the old heave-ho.  Kilts' story about the bones didn't seem to have any grains of truth in it until the bones file was discovered by a TIGHAR member doing WW II research in Tarawa in 1997.  The bones file has material from 1940-1941 and has to be considered the "gold standard" for historical accuracy until some better documentation comes along (if it does; it would be splendid to find Gallagher's diaries, if they still exist).
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2010, 09:13:12 AM »

Again, if crabs and centipedes were such a problem that our castaway was driven to A) surrounding themselves with fire circles and/or B) attempt to sleep in a tree, wouldn't it make more sense for them to spend their nights on the S.S. Norwich City?

What "makes sense" to us armchair survivors may not have "made sense" to the castaway of Gardner Island.

Quote
As Ric has mentioned, this was reachable at low tide (correct me if I have that wrong). Even if it was a burned out hulk, if pests were such a hazard onshore, it would seem like a normal human response to sleep nights on a safe "hulk", and forage on shore during the day.

No one can prove you right or wrong.  The hulk has fallen apart, so any traces of a castaway camp inside are gone.  No records have yet turned up from folks who visited the wreck in 1937-1941 (or thereabouts) that would support or discredit your hypothesis.  It's not something that can be investigated.

Quote
I say this not to question the Seven Site; I think it is firmly established that this was AE/FN. But sometimes I do wonder whether they were ever on the north side of the island at all, save perhaps for a single cursory recon.

Who knows?  TIGHAR is searching the Seven Site carefully because every visit has turned up very interesting material.  Whether any of it can be definitively connected to AE and FN remains to be seen.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Photo Essay -> Ren tree
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2010, 09:26:30 AM »

Would somebody clarify what is TIGHAR's officially accepted list of items at the Seven Site belonging to AE/FN?

I don't think there is an "official list."  Pay your dues to become a TIGHAR member (if you haven't already) and you'll get beautiful hard copies of TIGHAR Tracks.  That will help keep you up to date on what TIGHAR is doing.

Quote
I've surfed through the site here, and I think the list is:

Personal Items:
Ladies Compact Case (rouge and shards of mirror)
Pocket Knife (handle and stub of blade)
Possible leather jacket (parts of a zipper)

Those are consistent with AE and FN being at the Seven Site.  Other explanations could be imagined, too, of course.

Quote
Other:
Benedictine jug
Wooden box (dimensions?)
piece of a navigation device (glass lens)

See the articles about things that Gallagher collected for the historical documents about those discoveries.

The bottle was taken by a native and (apparently) not sent to Fiji.

The dimensions of the sextant box

The brass piece was lost or pocketed by someone and not sent to Fiji.

Quote
Is there anything else? At one time I thought I saw something about a piece of glass or plexiglass that could be used to catch rain, and happened to be the shape of a cockpit window. But I don't know if that was at the Seven Site, or somewhere else, or a theory that was dropped altogether.

A partial list of interesting artifacts is on the wiki.  The apparent piece of plexiglass is 2-3-V-2.  The "V" means it was found in the village.

Quote
Now, in terms of what items were brought from elsewhere on the island to the Seven Site, that we can safely attribute to AE/FN, I think all we have are the pieces of tin and asphalt siding that were used in cooking, correct? Believed to be brought over from the short-lived plantation on the NW side?

The time when the tin and asphalt came to the Seven Site is presently anyone's guess.

Quote
Finally, in terms of what items that are elsewhere on the island that are thought to likely belong to AE/FN, I think we have the "catspaw" piece of shoe near the coconut grove by the small entrance to the lagoon (south side of the island). And was that coconut grove there in AE/FN's time, or did it come later?

Amelia's Shoes explains the provenance of the shoe parts in detail.  I don't have time to consult it this morning.  My family is still down at the family camp and it's time for me to hit the road ...
[/quote]
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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