Monday, August 26, 2013

Erebus Bay Sites

With the news that this year's Parks Canada archaeological work will include both water and land searches, and that the land search will be concentrated around Erebus Bay, I thought I'd share this page from the 1995 report on NgLj-2, the site from which numerous skeletal remains and hundreds of physical artifacts were removed for study. Personally, I feel this area is already fairly-well scoured; last year's highlight -- a toothbrush -- may have shed some light on 19th-century dental hygiene, but not much on the fate of Franklin's men. A far more promising site would be the Todd Islets, where we know that the very last members of one group of Franklin survivors stopped and went no further/

Still, I understand the logistics of such a search -- having the support of research vessels and so forth in accessing remote sites is certainly important! -- so I have a few suggestions.  First off, how about NgLj-3? Two skulls, a knee-brace, and a human femur visible on the surface indicate graves which, as the report notes, may well be of Franklin's men.  The skulls were missing much of their facial portions, so positive identification of them as Caucasoid wasn't possible -- but today, using other techniques it may be possible to say more. That these bodies were at least given something of a burial suggests that they may have died before the final extremities, and the graves may contain other useful materials laid to rest with the men.

NgLj-4 might also be worth a look -- two pieces of copper found there are promising indicators of the presence of men, and perhaps ships, nearby.

I wish the Parks Canada archaeologists all the best -- we all hope they will find things of significance! --  and the land, like the water, may yet have some secrets to disclose.

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