Benedictine Bottle found on Nikumaroro

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Benedictine D.O.M., ca 1930's, with its unique bottle shape. It is most likely representative of the bottle found on Gardner Island. (Courtesy: Oxygenee, Ltd.)

When the skull was found and buried in April, 1940, it seems that there was a bottle nearby. Teng Koata apparently took the bottle with him to Tarawa before Gallagher began the "thorough search" suggested by his superiors. Although the bottle was recovered from Koata, it apparently was not shipped to Suva with the other things collected on Niku.

Telegram from Gallagher to the Acting Administrative Officer, Central Gilbert Islands District, Tarawa. Transcript
September 23, 1940
Please obtain from Koata (Native Magistrate Gardner on way to Central Hospital) a certain bottle alleged to have been found near skull discovered on Gardner Island. Grateful you retain bottle in safe place for present and ask Koata not to talk about skull which is just possibly that of Amelia Earhardt. [sic]
Telegram from the Administrative Officer, Central Gilbert Islands District, Tarawa to Gallagher. Transcript
September 30, 1940
Your telegram 23rd September. Koata has handed to me one benedictine bottle. A.O.C.G.I.D.

Gallagher in a telegram on October 6, 1940, says that there was "no indication of contents" found in the bottle, if any.

Cf. Bones Chronology.

Floyd Kilts was told that "beside the body was a cognac bottle with fresh water in it for drinking."

What is Benedictine D.O.M.?

Benedictine is a strong liqueur made from 27 herbs and spices. It has been described as having “pungent herbal and spicy flavors with a balanced sweetness”.

In the early 1500’s Dom Bernardo Vincelli, a Venetian Monk at the Abbey of Fecamp on France’s Normandy coast, used his knowledge of spices and Dutch distillation methods to create an elixir which, when combined with the traditional bitter medicines of the Abbey, transformed them into an “Elixir of Health”, soon becoming a favorite of the Monks.

His recipe was lost during the turmoil of the French Revolution when the Monks were dispersed. But a local notable bought a 16th century manuscript which, unbeknownst to him, had the recipe written on its pages. It was not until 1863 that Alexandre Le Grand, a distant relative of the notable, found the manuscript and successfully recreated the liqueur. After modernizing and improving the recipe, he named it Benedictine. Le Grand constructed a “Palace-Museum” building to be his distillery in 1882, where the liqueur is still made today. Although not now connected to the Monks, each bottle is marked “D.O.M.” Deo Optimo Maximo, Latin for “Praise be to God, Most Good, Most Great”.