If you’re like me, you’ve been fascinated forever by the disappearance of the aviator Amelia Earhart in 1937 on a round-the-world flight. There has been increasing evidence that she managed to make it to an isolated South Pacific island, Nikumaroro. There are reports that a female skeleton was found there in the 1940s, and excavations have suggested strongly that the island harbored castaways. Could one of them have been Earhart? (She was flying with a navigator, Fred Noonan.)
According to ABC news, a jar of what looks to have contained freckle cream of the type used by Earhart (who didn’t like her freckles) was found on the site, along with buttons, a zipper from a flight jacket, and what may have been fragments of human bones. Here’s the found jar (left) that looks pretty much like freckle cream:
The report continues:
TIGHAR [The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery] has long been investigating Earhart’s disappearance and has conducted nine archaeological excavations on the uninhabited island Nikumaroro in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati.
“This is one of several bottles that we’ve identified from the castaway campsite that seem to be and, in some cases, are very definitely personal care products that were marketed exclusively to women in the United States in the 1930s,” Gillespie said.
The jar was found broken into five pieces, four of which were together. The fifth piece was about 65 feet away near the bones of a turtle and appeared to have been used as a cutting tool.
Fish bones and eel remains were also discovered, and the remains indicated that they had not been prepared the way natives would have prepared their food.
“This is not a Pacific Islander,” Gillespie said. “This is a westerner grabbing anything they can find and cooking it and preparing it the way westerners do.”
Gillespie said that according to recovered documentation, the partial skeleton of a female castaway was discovered in 1940 in the area along with part of a woman’s shoe, part of a man’s shoe and a navigational tool, but the artifacts were later lost.
Along with the cosmetic jar, TIGHAR found pieces of a woman’s compact, a zipper that was manufactured in the 1930’s, and a bottle of hand lotion that has been chemically analyzed to match Campana Italian Balm, which was popular during Earhart’s time.
Of course the results aren’t in (can they do DNA analysis?), but it looks increasingly as if Earhart and Noonan made it to the island, lived there a while, and then died a slow death as castaways.
Here’s Nikumaroro ; read more about it here:
The island is a coral atoll that is one of the Phoenix Islands, a remote archipelago here: