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Wooden chest - Missing people and their belongings

The artifact of the week is much more unusual than is perhaps obvious at first glance. It is no. S-2242, a wooden chest for fishermen‘s rations. It was meant to carry all the food they needed during the fishing season. This particular one, however, had a rather tragic fate. In October 1868, four men started off on horseback for a journey of over 260 km. They meant to travel from the farm of Gröf to Suðurnes for the winter fishing season, despite signs of bad weather. Their names were Þorlákur Jónsson (aged 44), Árni Jónsson (aged 52), Jón Runólfsson (aged 32) and Davíð Jónsson (aged 17).
But they never made it to their destination – the men died of exposure on Mælifellssandur at the north side of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Their bodies were not found for a decade, until farmers looking for sheep came across them in 1878.
The men‘s belongings were preserved well enough that each of them could be identified. But rather than burying the men separately, their remains were all put in a single sack. They were buried in a single casket at the Ásakirkja graveyard, to the displeasure of their family and neighbors. Although their remains were retrieved, the men‘s luggage, clothing and valuables were left behind. For the next 90 years, travelers on their way past the place of the accident would pick up some of those items, which eventually found their way to the Skógar Museum. That includes parts of this wooden chest, which has been reconstructed for museum exhibition.
Those of you who read last week‘s entry for Artifact of the Week may recognize Þorlákur‘s name. The belt featured last week had, attached to it, one of the silver buttons from the coat Þorlákur was wearing when he died. This is because the belt belonged to Þorlákur‘s wife, Kristín Símónardóttir, and it seems that the button made its way to her after Þorlákur‘s body was found.

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