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Author Topic: FN or AE cairn?  (Read 24203 times)

Friend Weller

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FN or AE cairn?
« on: January 19, 2011, 07:55:15 PM »

Picking up the discussion from another thread, what about the possibility of a cairn (in this discussion, a shallow grave covered with rocks/coral rubble) as the final resting place for either FN or AE depending on who may have survived the other?  Have any "geologic features" been noted but not necessarily explored which could in actuality be such a cairn?  My thinking is that a feature like this might not be as obvious as the shallow graves which have been discovered previously as those graves were outlined with coral slabs or marked in some way.  If a driftwood marker had been erected, it wouldn't take too long for it to become part of the "jungle litter".  Of course with the decomposition or predation of the body, unlike burial cairns in the Andes or the Polar regions, a cairn of this nature would have a tendency to flatten out over time similar to the creation of depressions in the ground in pioneer cemeteries caused by or through a combination of the settling of the earth or the caving in of simple wooden caskets.

A cairn in this instance may have kept some bones hidden and prevented the critters from scattering the remains as easily.

Thoughts?  Cheers?  Jeers?

LTM,
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 09:27:52 PM »

... What about the possibility of a cairn (in this discussion, a shallow grave covered with rocks/coral rubble) as the final resting place for either FN or AE depending on who may have survived the other?  ...

It is certainly a logical possibility.

I don't think TIGHAR can yet say that it has gone over every inch of the island, so there may yet be a cairn waiting to be discovered. 

I feel moderately confident in saying that they haven't found one yet in the places where they've looked--and I'd guess that finding a burial site has been on the top of the list of things to look for since Niku I in 1989.
LTM,

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Chris Johnson

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 05:02:43 AM »

If a body had been interned by covering by coral rubble it is likely to be less of a cairn and more of a low hump.  Good point that it may have enabled some of the larger bones to remain safe from critters.  The likely hood of finding such burial site would be large though unless it was prominent in size or marked clearly.  Over time both of these aspects would diminish.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 05:31:17 AM »

Nothing much changes on Niku unless the sea or people change it.  A cairn on or near the beach would survive only until the next storm. A cairn inland far enough to be beyond the reach of storm surges (the Seven Site is such a location) should be exactly as it was unless people disturbed it.  Marty is correct that we haven't examined every inch of the island.  We couldn't do that if we had the Delaware Army National Guard there for a month.  In theory there could be a cairn someplace but without some clue as to where to find it, or the intersession of some serious serendipity, it's likely to remain undiscovered.
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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 06:06:22 AM »

Picking up the discussion from another thread, what about the possibility of a cairn (in this discussion, a shallow grave covered with rocks/coral rubble) as the final resting place for either FN or AE depending on who may have survived the other?  Have any "geologic features" been noted but not necessarily explored which could in actuality be such a cairn?  My thinking is that a feature like this might not be as obvious as the shallow graves which have been discovered previously as those graves were outlined with coral slabs or marked in some way.  If a driftwood marker had been erected, it wouldn't take too long for it to become part of the "jungle litter".  Of course with the decomposition or predation of the body, unlike burial cairns in the Andes or the Polar regions, a cairn of this nature would have a tendency to flatten out over time similar to the creation of depressions in the ground in pioneer cemeteries caused by or through a combination of the settling of the earth or the caving in of simple wooden caskets.

A cairn in this instance may have kept some bones hidden and prevented the critters from scattering the remains as easily.

Thoughts?  Cheers?  Jeers?

LTM,
Friend

Thoughts? Yes!
If you were AE/FN in 1937 on NIKU, would you have moved the dead body of your companion far away from the beach, the plane and Seven site? I don't think so. They were thirsty, hungry, exhausted and maybe hurt. They would have erected the grave near the plane or near the place they choose for waiting.
Just my opinion!
Oskar
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2011, 06:30:46 AM »

If you were AE/FN in 1937 on NIKU, would you have moved the dead body of your companion far away from the beach, the plane and Seven site? I don't think so. They were thirsty, hungry, exhausted and maybe hurt. They would have erected the grave near the plane or near the place they choose for waiting.

Ever move a dead body?  Not easy under the best of circumstances.
The available evidence suggests that the bones found by Gallagher were female. He also found parts of a woman's shoe and parts of a man's shoe which suggests that, at some point, there were a man and a woman cast away on the island.  The woman, or at least the bones found by Gallagher, were not buried, so ...
- either Fred died first so there was no one to bury Amelia
or
- Amelia died first and Fred, for whatever reason, didn't bury her.

It's natural to make the assumption that whoever died first would be in some way buried by the survivor but it's dangerous to make any assumptions when we're dealing with a situation we can only begin to imagine.  The easiest place to dig a hole on Niku is out on the beach in the sand.  Digging a hole inland in coral rubble is hard, hot work even if you have a good shovel (been there, done that), but dragging a body from the Seven Site out to the beach might also be beyond the ability of a debilitated castaway, male or female.  Piling coral rubble on the body might be the only option but we see no sign of anything like that at or near the Seven Site.
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Dan Swift

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2011, 08:00:49 AM »

Nothing much changes on Niku unless the sea or people change it.  A cairn on or near the beach would survive only until the next storm. A cairn inland far enough to be beyond the reach of storm surges (the Seven Site is such a location) should be exactly as it was unless people disturbed it.  Marty is correct that we haven't examined every inch of the island.  We couldn't do that if we had the Delaware Army National Guard there for a month.  In theory there could be a cairn someplace but without some clue as to where to find it, or the intersession of some serious serendipity, it's likely to remain undiscovered.

I would think that one good tropcial storm could produce 15 to 20 foot tides and 15 to 20 waves on top of that.  So figure several times since 1937 that island has been hit with such.  That certainly would narrow down anywhere a grave should be.  Doubt a castawy would care that much or be so able as to determine where to burry the other.  Much less have the strength to carry the dead body to such a safe location....if one even exists on the island.  Still believe most of the bones were washed away.  Just my opinion.  
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« Last Edit: January 20, 2011, 10:25:19 AM by moleski »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2011, 08:09:55 AM »

If the bones were at the Seven Site they weren't washed away. We see no indication of overwash at the site.  The island is protected by the fringing reef.  Storms come out of the west and northwest so the beach in front of the Seven Site is in the lee of those events.
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Don Dollinger

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2011, 08:43:03 AM »

Quote
If the bones were at the Seven Site they weren't washed away. We see no indication of overwash at the site.  The island is protected by the fringing reef.  Storms come out of the west and northwest so the beach in front of the Seven Site is in the lee of those events.

Hypothesizing that they were both in fact at the 7 site I would also hypothesize that if one of them passed away and the other was still even barely capable, they would do all in the there power to remove them from there campsite.  A rotting corpse being eaten by crabs and rats would be unbearable at best. 

Would think that the smell would even attract the legendary Niku Black Bear.   ;D

LTM

Don
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2011, 08:49:58 AM »

No argument there.
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Dan Swift

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2011, 10:15:36 AM »

If the bones were at the Seven Site they weren't washed away. We see no indication of overwash at the site.  The island is protected by the fringing reef.  Storms come out of the west and northwest so the beach in front of the Seven Site is in the lee of those events.

I believe you are correct.  Checking history of tropical storms, there simply has not been a measureable storm around Niku, not at least since 1956 (link below).  And Niku is not even in the risk area of tropical storms or hurricanes.  Closest risk are is well north and south.  So there was never a storm surge or tropical storm surge on the east or southeast side of the island.  Again, not since 1956.  And not likely since 1937 either.  Interesting. 
Ihttp://ochaonline.un.org/roap/MapCentre/HazardMaps/tabid/3725/language/fr-FR/Default.aspx
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Tim Collins

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2011, 10:25:40 AM »

Do I correctly recall reading in one or several of the reports two separate accounts of a party walking the beach coming across a skull, and finding a skeleton at the base of a Ren tree?

For my money I tend to think that Fred succumbed first to injuries sustained in the landing, perhaps on the way around the island to the 7 site, with AE spending time at the 7 site alone.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2011, 10:34:26 AM »

The west side of the island is a different story.  Big surges from distant storms occasionally clobber that shoreline. An event in the first week of 1939 when the New Zealand Survey party was there took off the aft half of the Norwich City wreck and another storm in November 1940 forced Gallagher to move some parts of the village.  Things seem to have been fairly quiet for the next 50 years but soon after our first visit in 1989 a storm surge knocked down the Gardner Co-Op Store that had stood near the head of the landing channel since 1949.  In the 20+ years we've been visiting the island we've seen a marked increase in storm damage to the west end, including clear evidence of an actual over-wash of part of the Old Village between 2003 and 2007.  Can you say Global Warming?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 10:47:48 AM »

Do I correctly recall reading in one or several of the reports two separate accounts of a party walking the beach coming across a skull, and finding a skeleton at the base of a Ren tree?

There are two sources for what happened:
- a 1960 anecdotal recollection by retired Coastie Floyd Kilts of a story told to him in 1946 by a Niku resident through an interpreter.
- Gallagher's telegrams, letter and notations in 1940/41.

Any other description of events is an interpretation of the information in those sources.
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Alan Williams

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Re: FN or AE cairn?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2011, 02:51:17 PM »

Quick question, as usual probably already addressed elsewhere...

What is confidence level FN was at Seven Site? Does discovery of  piece of potentially matching male's shoe "probably" put FN at Seven Site? Possibility FN was never at Seven Site/perished elsewhere and AE brought his shoe(s) to wear or as a hammering tool or similar?
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