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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.
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WENDY VAN DUIVENVOORDE is a lecturer in maritime archaeology at Flinders University and deputy director of the Australian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres. She is also affiliated faculty with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University.Review:
"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 Maritime Archaeology, University of Connecticut (Kroum Batchvarov 2014-09-11)
"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 built their ships in the 17th century is subject to much guess and speculation. Written sources are scarce 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 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." — Ab Hoving (Ab Hoving 2014-10-02)
“The quality of the book, cover art, colour photography, tables, charts and layout are all visually appealing and provide the perfect balance to a data intense study.
“...the reader is well and truly aware of the incredible contribution the author makes to our historical knowledge of Dutch shipbuilding through the introduction of translated archival materials including treatise and texts.
“it provides the most informative overview of extant Dutch VOC ships in one place; it is a go-to source for anyone working on Dutch East Indiamen.
“a superb example of how we might consider and apply archaeometric techniques to shipwreck sites to expand the data we collect and broaden the questions to which we seek answers.
“[this book] can be used as a textbook in courses that focus on maritime history and archaeology, but is equally appealing to the enthusiast with its rich illustrations and imagery. It is a must-have on the shelves of any ship construction specialist”—Australian Archaeology
(Australian Archaeology 2017-02-08)
“This well-crafted and attractive book contains a large number of high-quality colour photographs, as well as informative technical drawings of construction, and includes wider content on VOC shipbuilding, and comparable 17th-century ships. This reviewer commends it to all readers of IJNA—highly accessible while maintaining rigorous academic standards. It is a ‘must’ for anyone interesting in European shipbuilding traditions of the Early-Modern period.”—International Journal of Nautical Archaeology
(International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 2017-04-25)
“For those who are interested in the early-modern aspects of the age of sail, Dutch East India Company Shipbuilding is a must-buy, and an excellent example of the interdisciplinary work that is driving modern understandings of the early-modern maritime world.” —The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord (The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord)
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