A bioarchaeological investigation of a multiple burial associated with the Batavia mutiny of 1629

WA Museum Records and Supplements | Updated 8 months ago

ABSTRACT – On 29 October 1628, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) Retourschip Batavia embarked on a vovage into infamy. Originally sailing as part of a fleet of six other ships, the Batavia was subsequently separated, and wrecked on Morning Reef in the Houtman Abrolhos on 4 June 1629. The ship's Commander, Francisco Pelsaert, had survivors landed on nearby Beacon Island, and then embarked on a rescue voyage to Batavia (modern day Jakarta). During Pelsaert's absence, an ultimately unsuccessful mutiny attempt resulted in the murder of at least 125 people.

Human skeletal material has been recovered from excavations of the Batavia land sites since the 1960s. Four individual burials were discovered between 1960 and 1964. A further six individuals were recovered from a multiple burial between 1994 and 2001. Characteristics of the multiple burial, such as the age, sex, positioning of individuals interred and evidence of trauma are analysed and compared for any similarity to individuals listed, and events outlined and historically recorded. The results of this analysis suggest that four of the interred are probably the sick individuals who were amongst the massacre's early victims; two sub-adults were also included in the burial, at least one of which can also be directly accounted for.

Author(s) D. Franklin and L. Freedman
Records 23 : Part 1
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