Issue 34

Who is Alexander Selkirk? Aside from being our publisher’s brother, he was also the inspiration for the world’s most famous castaway. Writer Daniel Defoe based his novel, Robinson Crusoe, on the true adventures of a Scottish sailor, one hot-headed Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned on a tiny island, off the coast of Chile, from 1704 to 1709.
But what, if anything, remains of Alexander Selkirk’s enforced occupation on that island – now named Robinson Crusoe Island? Archaeologist Daisuke Takahashi had a possible lead: an elderly islander had shown him the little-known ruins of a small building, deep in an overgrown clearing in the forest. Could this have been Alexander’s camp? Its location seemed perfect. Moreover, we know that following several months of frantic panic and depression, Selkirk built himself two huts: one to live in, the other for his food, just as he had back home.
So the archaeologists began digging the abandoned building. But what did they find? Did they uncover the secrets of Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe? And what does their work reveal about island life in the 18th century? Was it really a desert island idyll of balmy days under the coconut fronds? If so, why did Alexander Selkirk swiftly turn to piracy after his rescue?
Heave ho and up he rises.

Travel: Hadrian MCM

CWA 34

Who is Alexander Selkirk? Aside from being our publisher‘s brother, he was also the inspiration for the world’s most famous castaway. Writer Daniel Defoe based his novel, Robinson Crusoe, on the true adventures of a Scottish sailor, one hot-headed Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned on a tiny island, off the coast of Chile, from 1704 […]

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Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile

Two hearths, three postholes, and a fragment from a nautical instrument: could this be the shelter of Alexander Selkirk, the original Robinson Crusoe

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Flying the Aegean

David Kennedy powers up in a microlight plane to take us for a scenic trip over one particularly stunning Classical site sitting on the Aegean coast

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In the Land of Lincoln

The 16th president of the USA is much written about; now, excavations in Salem, Illinois, are revealing new secrets about his early life.

681

Herculaneum re-painted

Laser scanning techniques used to create detailed picture of statues found at Herculaneum

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Gibraltar, Neanderthals

Excavations from two caves on Gibraltar, show Neanderthals, like modern humans exploited marine foods as part of their diet

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Sagalassos

Three giant (5m) statues of Antonine dynasty emperors found in baths complex

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