Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

The loss of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie retourschip BATAVIA, Western Australia 1629

Author/s J.N. Green

Year of publication 1989

Report Number: 276

PREFACEThis book has been many years in the making. The excavation which I directed from 1971-1975 was followed by a long period of research and documentation. In 1987, I decided not to delay publishing the excavation report and catalogue of artefacts any longer, but to combine these sections together with their archaeological interpretation in a book, leaving the ship's structure report until a later publication. The decision to publish the Batavia report in two parts was influenced by the fact that the reconstruction of the Batavia was unlikely to be fmished beforel989. All the section dealing with the ship's structure could not be fmalized until the completion of this project, it seemed expedient to press ahead with that part of the work which was ready for publication, to produce this book. After the completion of the reconstruction and research on the hull structure, a further volume will include a report on this as well as the coinage, the human skeletal material and the land-based archaeology, together with a historical review of the shipwreck, and other small matters that may have been missed in the flfst volume.The present book is divided into three parts: the excavation, the artefacts and the interpretation. The flrst pan is straightforward, being an account of the excavation and the techniques used for documenting and recording. Some of this work has been reported elsewhere (Green (1974, 1975 and 1980ii), Green and Baker (1976), Green and Pearson (1975) and Ingleman-Sundberg (1977)), but the section here describes the excavation in detail.The artefact catalogue is a more complex problem. For the purposes of classification, I have attempted to group artefacts together which would have had a natural association on board the ship. The merits and the drawbacks of this approach are discussed fully in the final section 'Archaeological sigrtificance of the artefacts'. I should point out, however, that where an item may have a number of different functions or purposes on board the ship, and thus belong to several different groups, I have tried to place it in the most obvious or relevant group. Readers are referred to the 'Contents' pages for a detailed listing of the groups and the placing of artefacts within them and to the 'Archaeological significance of the artefacts' chapter for an explanation of these placings.In most cases the objects recorded in the catalogue are illustrated either by a line drawing or by a photograph. All the drawings are at a scale of 1:2 unless otherwise stated. The registration numbers prefixed with the letters 'BAT' refer to the object's registration number recorded on the object and on the master register in the Department of Maritime Archaeology at the Western Australian Maritime Museum. A few groups of material have not been illustrated because they are unsuilable or inappropriate as illustrations, the bricks, for example; in other cases (the beardman masks and medallions) the complete collection has been illustrated to show the range and diversity.The chapter 'Archaeological significance of the artefacts' discusses the complexity of classifying material from a wreck site that has a large historical documenlation. An account is given of the lists that were used by the administration of the V.O.C. to specify the materials loaded on board their ships, examining their relevance to maritime archaeological excavation work. The items that have special significance to the documentary evidence are discussed and, finally, some conclusions are drawn about the research in general.I have found Henrietla Drake-Brockman's book Voyage to Disaster (Drake-Brockman, 1966) extremely useful in the course of this work, especially the translations of Pelsaert's Journal by E.D. Drok, which appear in it However, all the translations have been examined and compared against an original copy of the manuscript of Pelsaert's Journal. I have typeset this book myself using a Macintosh SE computer and a Laser Writer Plus. The original text was typed using Microsoft Word 1.03 and then typeset using Page Maker 3. Statistical work utilized Slats View 512+1>1 and Microsoft Excel and charts from these applications were pasted, via the clipboard, directly into the typeset text. The views and opinions are those of the author, except where others are cited.