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Publication . Article . 2021

Batavia shipwreck timbers reveal a key to Dutch success in 17th-century world trade

Aoife Daly; Marta Domínguez-Delmás; Wendy van Duivenvoorde;
Open Access
English
Abstract

Ocean-going ships were key to rising maritime economies of the Early Modern period, and understanding how they were built is critical to grasp the challenges faced by shipwrights and merchant seafarers. Shipwreck timbers hold material evidence of the dynamic interplay of wood supplies, craftmanship, and evolving ship designs that helped shape the Early Modern world. Here we present the results of dendroarchaeological research carried out on Batavia���s wreck timbers, currently on display at the Western Australian Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle. Built in Amsterdam in 1628 CE and wrecked on its maiden voyage in June 1629 CE in Western Australian waters, Batavia epitomises Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) shipbuilding. In the 17th century, the VOC grew to become the first multinational trading enterprise, prompting the rise of the stock market and modern capitalism. Oak (Quercus sp.) was the preferred material for shipbuilding in northern and western Europe, and maritime nations struggled to ensure sufficient supplies to meet their needs and sustain their ever-growing mercantile fleets and networks. Our research illustrates the compatibility of dendrochronological studies with musealisation of shipwreck assemblages, and the results demonstrate that the VOC successfully coped with timber shortages in the early 17th century through diversification of timber sources (mainly Baltic region, L��beck hinterland in northern Germany, and Lower Saxony in northwest Germany), allocation of sourcing regions to specific timber products (hull planks from the Baltic and L��beck, framing elements from Lower Saxony), and skillful woodworking craftmanship (sapwood was removed from all timber elements). These strategies, combined with an innovative hull design and the use of wind-powered sawmills, allowed the Dutch to produce unprecedented numbers of ocean-going ships for long-distance voyaging and interregional trade in Asia, proving key to their success in 17th-century world trade.

Funding: WvD LP130100137 Australian Research Council https://www.arc.gov.au/ No MD-D 607545 FP7 People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/ 016.Veni.195.502 Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek https://www.nwo.nl/en AD 677152 European Research Council https://erc.europa.eu/

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Woodworking Multinational corporation Shipbuilding business.industry business Capitalism Stock market Diversification (marketing strategy) Framing (construction) Economy Early modern period History

Subjects

Dutch East India Company, dendroarchaeology, Batavia, timber, 17th century, shipbuilding, Multidisciplinary, Research Article, Biology and Life Sciences, Agriculture, Agronomy, Plant Products, Crop Science, Organisms, Eukaryota, Plants, Trees, Engineering and Technology, Marine Engineering, Ecology, Paleoecology, Dendrochronology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Paleontology, Paleobiology, Earth Sciences, Social Sciences, Archaeology, Archaeological Dating, Oaks, People and places, Geographical locations, Europe, European Union, Germany, Transportation, Ships, Medicine, R, Science, Q

Funded byView all
ARC| Linkage Projects - Grant ID: LP130100137
Project
  • Funder: Australian Research Council (ARC) (ARC)
  • Project Code: LP130100137
  • Funding stream: Linkage Projects
,
EC| FORSEADISCOVERY
Project
FORSEADISCOVERY
Forest resources for Iberian Empires: Ecology and Globalization in the Age of Discovery
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 607545
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP3 | PEOPLE
,
EC| TIMBER
Project
TIMBER
Northern Europe's timber resource - chronology, origin and exploitation
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 677152
  • Funding stream: H2020 | ERC | ERC-STG
Validated by funder
,
ARC| Linkage Projects - Grant ID: LP130100137
Project
  • Funder: Australian Research Council (ARC) (ARC)
  • Project Code: LP130100137
  • Funding stream: Linkage Projects
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