Mapping the old with the new: Re-imaging the 1727 'Zeewijk' shipwreck site with new recording technology (13–16 March 2022)

Ross Anderson, Wendy van Duivenvoorde, Patrick Morrison, Deb Shefi, Alistair Paterson, Martijn Manders

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


In 1727 the Dutch United East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) ship 'Zeewijk' wrecked in the Pelsaert Group of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.

This report details the methodology, outputs and conclusions of a 2022 field survey conducted between 11 and 17 March 2022. The primary aim was to create a 3D record of the 'Zeewijk' (1727) shipwreck site using photogrammetry. The work would allow for a critical assessment of Mr Hugh Edwards’ claim of finding the wreck of 'Aagtekerke' (1726) on the same site as 'Zeewijk'. It would also better visualise the site for research, management, and public interpretation purposes.

The fieldwork successfully mapped the widely dispersed 'Zeewijk' shipwreck site on the inner (inside lagoon) and outer reef (in the surf zone) using digital cameras and GPS positioning. It resulted in significant new findings allowing a re-evaluation of the total count of all iron cannon and anchors in the offshore reef, and inshore lagoon areas.

This work, when combined with findings of the earlier ‘Roaring Forties Project’ (Paterson et al. 2019), and more recent research undertaken by the WA Museum, provides overwhelming evidence that there is only one shipwreck on the 'Zeewijk' site, and negates the hypothesis of two VOC shipwrecks present within the Pelsaert Group. The resulting updated corpus of high-resolution digital imagery, 3D models and site data will greatly facilitate future studies, public interpretation outputs and on-going site monitoring and management of this highly significant Dutch-Australian mutual heritage site.

It is gratefully acknowledged that the field work was primarily funded by a grant from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (GCE-2019-03), with additional funding support provided through the Australian Government’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Program and Flinders University’s Maritime Archaeology Program. Transport, logistics and local knowledge to enable safe access to the 'Zeewijk' site were provided by the Liddon family.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFremantle
PublisherWestern Australian Museum
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2023

Publication series

NameDepartment of Maritime Archaeology
PublisherWestern Australian Museum


  • VOC
  • Zeewijk shipwreck
  • Abrolhos Islands
  • Houtman Abrolhos Archipelago
  • cannon
  • anchors
  • archaeology
  • maritime
  • 18th century
  • 1727
  • Shipwrecks
  • Aagtekerke
  • Dutch East India Company
  • Netherlands
  • Pelsaert Group of Islands


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