Skip to main content


(Sept. 26, 2005) The island home of Alexander Selkirk, the man whose true story inspired the famous novel “Robinson Crusoe,” has finally been uncovered on Robinson Crusoe Island, 645 kilometers off the coast of Chile in the Juan Fernández Archipelago.

Although the island has long been known as the place where Selkirk was cast away by the captain and crew of his British privateer, the location of his home where he spent four years waiting to be rescued has always been a mystery.

Japanese archaeologist Daisuke Takahashi led the expedition, sponsored by the National Geographic society, which discovered the remains of Selkirk’s base camp. Takahashi is the author of the Japanese best seller, “In Search of Robinson Crusoe” and has been searching for the site for over 13 years. He once spent a month alone on the island just to understand what Selkirk went through as a cast away.

The team found the remains of a fire pit, animal bones, and ceramic pots while surveying likely locations around the island. After carbon analysis confirmed that the artifacts matched the dates of Selkirk’s stay on the island, 1704 to 1710, they further excavated the area and unearthed the remains of two structures Selkirk built, as well as the tip a pair of navigational dividers buried in the dirt.

Selkirk was a Scottish sailing master aboard the British privateer Cinque Ports, pirating Spanish vessels off the coast of South America in the early 1700s. After a series of sea battles, the Cinque Ports was left badly damaged. Selkirk feared the ship would soon sink and asked the captain to set him ashore. When none of the other sailors joined him on shore, he begged the Captain to take him back but was refused and left on what was then the uninhabited island known as Más a Tierra. Weeks later the ship and most of its crew sank off the coast of Peru, the captain and other survivors were picked up by the Spanish and thrown into a Peruvian prison.

Selkirk spent four years and four months on the deserted island waiting to be rescued. In 1709 he was picked up by a British privateer and continued pirating the treasure laden Spanish ships off the coast of South America for another four years. Having made his fortune he returned to Scotland in 1712 and published the account of his adventures on Más a Tierra that was later fictionalized by famous author Daniel Defoe.

Takahashi’s is now working with Chilean officials and the National Geographic Society to reconstruct Selkirk’s island home using his original design. The findings will be published in the October issue of National Geographic.



Popular posts from this blog

Moving to the Suburbs: Reducciones in Recent Latin American Historiography

In 1503, the Spanish monarchy issued its first decree for the resettlement of indigenous groups in the Caribbean so that they would “live together” and “not remain or wander separated from each other in the backcountry.”[1]

As the European conquest spread to North, Central, and South America, these new settlements – known as reducciones and congregaciones in Spanish and descimentos in Portuguese – became sites of forced labor, evangelism, experimental agricultural, and refuge. Through a series of imperial policies decreed over the next decades and centuries of colonial rule, Spanish and Portuguese officials attempted to reshape the New World, including its human and natural landscapes. How colonial historians explain this process and indigenous peoples’ reactions to it is the focus of this essay.

In a review of the recent historiography of reducciones, several trends emerge that signal a shift in our understanding of the practice. As this paper will show, one common element is that …

77-Year-Old Wall Street Favorite to Face Fujimori in Peru Runoff

By Nathan Gill and John Quigley April 12, 2016 (Bloomberg) -- The victory by Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former finance minister, for second place in Sunday’s Peruvian president elections sets up a showdown between two business-friendly candidates, part of a regional backlash against left-wing politicians.
Kuczynski, a 77-year-old Oxford-trained political economist who’s spent more than 50 years championing debt control and free trade, won 21 percent of vote with 96 percent of the ballots counted, according to the electoral office. He will face Keiko Fujimori, who won 39.8 percent, in a second-round vote on June 5.
Click here to read the full story on Bloomberg News.

Bailout Risk Grows for Ecuador After Worst Earthquake in Decades

By Nathan Gill April 19, 2016 (Bloomberg) -- Before a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador on Saturday, the South American nation’s finances were already in tatters as the government struggled to meet payments to municipal authorities, oil companies and even cancer hospitals. Cut off from global bond markets, President Rafael Correa must now find enough money to rehouse thousands.
As volunteers continue to rescue victims from the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, doubts are growing about the country’s ability to pay for the reconstruction. The nation is already in its worst recession since the financial system collapsed in the late 1990s, and international reserves are at their lowest levels in almost seven years.
Click hereto read the full story on Bloomberg News.