History

Jars Hint at Amelia Earhart as Castaway: Photos

Items on a deserted island suggest Amelia Earhart may have survived for a time there as a castaway.

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May 30, 2012

-- On the southeast end of Nikumaroro Island in the Pacific Ocean, archaeologists are finding artifacts that suggest Amelia Earhart may have survived for a time there as a castaway. A partial skeleton of a castaway was discovered at the so-called Seven Site in 1940 and this is where several shards of glass have been recovered. Some of the items contained products used only by women. This broken green glass bottle has a melted bottom and was found in a fire feature. It matches a three-ounce container of "St. Joseph Nerve and Bone Family Liniment." The bottle design was patented on May 30, 1933.

Earhart's Anti-Freckle Ointment Jar Possibly Recovered

Coding embossed into the bottom of this three-ounce bottle reveals that it was made by Owens Illinois Glass. Co. at their Bridgeton, NJ plant in 1933. Laboratory analysis of remnants of the contents show a close match to Campana Italian Balm, a hand lotion made in Batavia, Ill. that was popular with American women in the 1930s.

Signs of Amelia Earhart's Final Days?

These are three of five fragments that form a small jar of an "ointment pot." It is among the most intriguing finds at the island site.

Search for Amelia Earhart Starts Again

When reassembled, the fragments make up a nearly complete jar identical to the style used by Dr. C. H Berry's Freckle Ointment, a concoction marketed in the early 20th century that was supposed to make freckles fade (it was 11 percent mercury). Earhart is known to have been concerned about her freckles.

PHOTOS: Clues Point to Amelia Earhart as Castaway

Although the style of the jar is the same used by Dr. Berry's ointment, the artifact found is clear glass while all of the examples of freckle cream the TIGHAR researchers have been able to find are milky white or opal glass. They have also been unable to match the exact size of the artifact jar to a known jar of Dr. Berry's product. The reassembled artifact jar does, however, fit nicely in a box in which anti-freckle cream was marketed. The known Dr. Berry jars do not. "So we know there was a jar of Dr. Berry's Freckle Ointment of the same size as the artifact jar, but we don't know whether it was clear glass," Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director, told Discovery News.

Four of the broken pieces of the ointment pot were found together. The fifth piece was discovered about 65 feet away from the bones of a turtle. That piece of glass shows evidence of secondary use as a cutting or slicing tool. "The bottles and other artifacts TIGHAR has found at the Seven Site tell a fascinating, but still incomplete, story of ingenuity, survival, and, ultimately, tragedy. Whether it is Amelia Earhart's story remains to be seen," Gillespie said.

PHOTOS: Amelia Earhart