Australia is to receive a significant collection of artefacts recovered from four Dutch shipwrecks found off the Western Australian coast following an announcement made by the Netherlands Government today.
Until now the collections of the Zuytdorp (1712), Batavia (1629), Vergulde Draeck (1656) and the Zeewyk (1727) had been shared between the Western Australian Museum, the Netherlands and the Commonwealth Government as agreed under the Australian and Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS) established in 1972.
The collections to be transferred consist of 633 coins and 1,326 artefacts which include bricks; building blocks; lead ingots; pottery; elephant tusks; cannons, cannon balls; amber and pitch as well as rare objects owned by crew and passengers, including navigational instruments and ornaments. Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said the gift to Australia from the Government of the Netherlands would allow WA scientists to delve even further into the rich history of the Dutch explorers off the WA coast.
“Having all of these precious artefacts in Australia will allow greater access to the complete collections of these important shipwrecks by maritime historians, scholars and researchers,” Mr Day said.
“It will allow thorough research and analysis to be undertaken and ensure the collections are accessible to the Australian public to enable everyone to learn even more about their history and heritage.
“Staff at the Western Australian Museum are looking forward to working with the Netherlands research workers and Museum curators in developing a better understanding of this unique collection.”
The share of artefacts from these four shipwrecks held by Australia is currently on display at the Western Australian Museum - Shipwreck Galleries and the Western Australian Museum in Geraldton. Arrangements for the transfer of the Netherlands Government’s collection, as well as details of where the collection is to be housed, will be finalised later this year.