Wendy van Duivenvoorde

Dutch East India Company Shipbuilding: The Archaeological Study of Batavia and Other Seventeenth-Century VOC Ships

isbn: 978-1-62349-179-6
uitgever: College Station: Texas A&M University Press  
jaartal: 2015
310 pp., hardcover, 125 color photos, $ 90.00. Also available in an ebook edition.

Eight months into its maiden voyage to the Indies, the Dutch East India Company’s Batavia sank on June 4, 1629 on Morning Reef in the Houtman Abrolhos off the western coast of Australia.

Wendy van Duivenvoorde’s five-year study was aimed at reconstructing the hull of Batavia, the only excavated remains of an early seventeenth-century Indiaman to have been raised and conserved in a way that permits detailed examination, using data retrieved from the archaeological remains, interpreted in the light of company archives, ship journals, and Dutch texts on shipbuilding of this period. Over two hundred tables, charts, drawings, and photographs are included.


Ab Hoving

"Wendy van Duivenvoorde has written a detailed and scholarly account of Dutch ships of the East Indies trade. Her book is technically exact, well-illustrated, and will be of great relevance to maritime archaeologists and maritime scholars. She does what we all want archaeologists to do---she breathes life into the world of the vessels . . . we look over the shoulders of the Dutch as they design, build and sail extraordinary vessels such as Batavia across the known world in search of the East Indies trade."--Alistair Paterson, Professor and Discipline Chair of archaeology, University of Western Australia "Dr. van Duivenvoorde's book on the early shipbuilding practices of the VOC is going to fill a major gap in our knowledge of this important subject in the early modern era. The book is a fundamental contribution to our understanding of Dutch shipbuilding in the early seventeenth century as practiced in the most successful business venture the world has ever seen. The author handles her sources masterfully and covers all aspects of shipbuilding from design and construction methods to material utilization and supply"— Kroum Batchvarov, Assistant Professor Martime Archaeology, University of Connecticut "Early in the 17th century the tiny Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was one of the mightiest countries in the world. Dutch East and West Indian Company ships sailed every ocean and the red white and blue flag was seen in every significant harbour in the world. Trade was profitable and the remains of this period of Dutch prosperity are still visible in the buildings in many towns of the country. Other remains are the shipwrecks that are found all over the world as a result of ever-improving research and diving techniques. The way the Dutch build their ships in the 17th century is subject to much guess and speculation. Written sources are scarse and hard to understand, due to our radically changed technology, terminology and disappeared wood building skills and tools. Modern shipbuilding has nothing to do with the trade of the 17th century ship carpenters. Archaeology provides us with answers and also in good academic tradition with a lot of questions. The finding and salvaging of the remains of the Batavia on the Australian west coast provides us with the opportunity to take a closer look at the techniques the VOC used to build its ships. Wendy van Duivenvoorde Phd. studied the only part left of the ship, part of its larboard counter and hull side, amidst the admirable and successful actions the Western Australian Museum took to preserve and present the remains. The book is the result of a study that leads us deep into the secrets of the Dutch shipbuilders. Every piece of waterlogged wood was painstakingly researched, drawn, conserved and placed in its physical and historical context. The origin of the wood was established, the techniques of machining it into a ship are laboriously explained and I cannot think of an aspect Wendy did not tackle in her book, based on her Ph.D. thesis. That does not mean the book does not raise questions. Did the Dutch indeed change their shipbuilding techniques from shell-first to frame-first in the course of the 17th century? Was the double planking of the VOC hulls the result of the fact that two layers of thin wood are easier to work with than one thick layer? Did the frame-first method require more compass timber and less straight wood than the shell-first method? Every book on the subject raises new questions and it does not take away anything from the fact that Wendy van Duivenvoorde wrote an impressive work on the remains of the Batavia, which gives this important shipwreck the credits it deserves."

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