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The Batavia Shipwreck: An Archaeological Study of an Early Seventeenth-Century Dutch East-Indiaman

Wendy van Duivenvoorde
Dissertation: May 2008
Chair: Crisman
Nautical Archaeology Program

Batavia, a Dutch East Indiaman, sank in 1629 on its maiden voyage to the Indies in the Houtman Abrolhos Archipelago off the coast of Western Australia. The ship gained notoriety for the mutiny and horrific massacre that engulfed the survivors after the wreck, but the vessel itself was lost for centuries. The remains of the ship were discovered in 1963, and excavated between 1971 and 1980 by a team of archaeologists from the Western Australian Museum. The surviving hull timbers, raised from the seabed by archaeologists, represent approximately 3.5 percent of the original hull. They include part of the transom and aft port quarter of the ship. To date, Batavia represents the only excavated remains of an early seventeenth–century Dutch East Indiaman that have been raised and conserved in a way that permits detailed study. This is of great significance as there are no lines drawings or construction plans for any Dutch ships from this period. The study and comparison of the Batavia hull timbers with those of other Dutch shipwrecks and historic documentation contributes to the understanding of Dutch shipbuilding techniques at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries.

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