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Batavia's mysteries unfold with discovery of mass grave

Batavia's mysteries unfold with discovery of mass grave

The communal grave discovered by archaeologists was made up of five sets of human remains, along with artefacts.

Full article issued by The University of Western Australia.

An international team of archaeologists, with funding from an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects grant, has discovered a new communal grave in the Abrolhos Islands, the result of deaths after a shipwreck of the Dutch East India company ship Batavia.

The Batavia was wrecked in 1629 on the Morning Reef off the Western Australian coast. The 282 survivors ended up on a small coral island termed ‘Batavia’s Graveyard’—Beacon Island. In the following months a mutiny unfolded, leading to the deaths of around 115 people, many of whom were murdered by the mutineers.

ARC Future Fellow Professor Alistair Paterson, from the University of Western Australia, who leads the international collaboration of researchers with Jeremy Green from the Western Australia Museum, said the discovery of the new grave had unearthed vital clues about what happened on Beacon Island almost 400 years ago.

“The communal burial discovered this month suggests careful and respectful burial, not the hurried work of hiding murder victims,” Professor Paterson said.

“These may be people who died in the days following the wreck but before the mutiny and mass killings were under way.”

The research is partly funded by the ARC ‘Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties” Linkage Projects grant, and is undertaken by The University of Western Australia in partnership with the WA Museum, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Curtin University, The Flinders University of South Australia, British Museum, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the National Archives of the Netherlands, Prospero Productions, the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service, and the Western Australian Museum. 

Media Issued by The University of Western Australia.

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