Robinson Crusoe, Tourism & a Copper Fragment

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Not subscribing to “Post Medieval Archaeology,” it has taken me a little while to catch up with story of the excavations on Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile. It was the BBC website and The Times that alerted me to a story that archaeologists led by David Caldwell from National Museums Scotland had found evidence of an early European occupant on the island.
Since this is the island that Alexander Selkirk ( he whose story was written by Daniel Defoe as Robinson Crusoe) stayed on for four years after he was put ashore there in 1704, locals have renamed parts of the three island archaepelogo after the book such as Mirador do Selkirk and Peurto Ingles.
The excavation at Aguas Buenas found a couple of postholes, a fragment of a copper alloy that has been identified as being from a pair of naigational dividers (Selkirk is known to have had navigation equipment with him) and looked at a nearby gunpowder magazine. It may well be that they have found something relating to Selkirk but it was the quote from Caldwell that was telling.
He said “We hope that Aguas Buenas, with careful management, may be a site enjoyed by the increasing number of tourists searching for the inspiration behind Defoe’s masterpiece.”
the fact that he mentioned tourism at all is interesting. Why?
Lying about 2.5 hours flying time from the capital of Chile, Santiago, and just under half way between Chile and Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean these islands are accessible only on small 6-
10 seater planes or by boat.The islands, for there are three, were declared a national park in 1935 and a world biosphere reserve in 1977. The ecology is quite fragile. At the moment tourism is numbered in hundreds probably due to how difficult it is to get there.
The effect of Caldwell’s comments and the natural inclinition of the islanders to seek revenue could damage this ecology. But Caldwell does say ” carefully managed” and that says it all. CD-Traveller has highlighted problems at Pompei and Machi Picchu.
Here there is no problem yet. I hope in 20 years time, I can still say that.

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