The Unlucky Voyage: Batavia’s (1629) Landscape of Survival on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia

Alistair Paterson, Jeremy Green, Wendy van Duivenvoorde, Daniel Franklin, Ambika Flavel, Liesbeth Smits, Jeffrey Shragge, Martijn Manders, Corioli Souter, Deb Shefi, Ross Anderson, Thomas Hoskin, Nader Issa, Mike Nash

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The loss of the Dutch East India Company ship 'Batavia' in 1629 on the Houtman Abrolhos off the west coast of Australia and subsequent mutiny is one of the most dramatic events in the history of European encounters with Australia, and was widely popularized in 17th-century publications. The archaeological remains surpass that of a shipwreck with its consequent jetsam and flotsam, and are the silent witnesses to a cultural landscape of survival created within a few months by a horrible sequence of events. Here we present archaeological evidence collected from 2014 to 2019 in a new research project that informs on these historical events. We discovered 12 victims in single and multiple graves, as well as evidence for survivors’ resistance to a band of mutineers and remains of the possible gallows site where 7 mutineers were executed. Together these sites contribute to the understanding of the survival landscape at one of the earliest European sites in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalHistorical Archaeology
Issue number1
Early online date4 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2023


  • Western Australia
  • Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • mass murder
  • Batavia
  • Shipwreck Archaeology


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