The real Robinson Crusoe

300 years afterAlexander Selkirk, the real-life model for Robinson Crusoe stayed an island after a disagreement with his sea captain, archaeologists think they have found his campsite.

Archaeologists have found evidence of what they believe to be Selkirk’s presence in a part of the island known as Aguas Buenas, uncovering the remnants of a campsite constructed by an early European occupant. An article published in the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology reports the discovery of a fragment of copper alloy from a pair of navigational dividers, which would have belonged to a ship’s navigator or master. Reports from the 18th century from Selkirk’s rescuer, Captain Woodes Rogers, suggest that Selkirk fulfilled one of these roles.

David Caldwell, Keeper of Scotland and Europe for National Museums Scotland and leader of the dig, said: “The evidence uncovered at Aguas Buenas corroborates the stories of Alexander Selkirk’s stay on the island. I am satisfied that this is the place where Selkirk set up his camp. The discovery of the divider was crucial.”

Other compelling finds include two holes for posts, which suggest that Selkirk constructed two shelters by a freshwater stream and set up a viewpoint to watch for — and assess the friendliness of — approaching ships. In the end, five years passed before an English ship visited the island.

I like this… I admire Daniel Defoe’s work and though I have not yet had the opportunity to teach a class with his writing in it, I hope to some day.

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