Funding puts WA wrecks on the map

MP Josh Wilson (centre) discusses Dutch wrecks with UWA archaeology professor Alistair Paterson (2nd from left) and museum staff Deb Shefi, Ross Anderson and Corioli Souter.

DUTCH East India Company wrecks which dot the WA coast will get to shine on the international archaeology stage after UWA scored an $800,000 research grant.

The Dutch had a habit of over-shooting the turn north to the famed “Spice Islands” during their maritime heyday, and since the 1960s a handful of valuable archaeological sites have been discovered. One yielded up the remains of the Batavia which now reside in the Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle.

Now the Australia Research Council grant will allow the UWA researchers to partner with other organisations to put WA’s shipwrecks in an international context in a way that’s not been possible before.

UWA professor of Archeology Alistair Paterson said the funding would help tell WA’s story around the world.

WA has a rich collection of wreck artifacts, which will be easier to find out about when linked to international museum documents and studies.

“After years of looking at the archaeology, finally we’ve got a project focused on the fabulous collections that are here in Western Australia and situating them in a global context with 10 international partners,” Prof Peterson said.

“I don’t think that story has been told through the collections in the way that we’re hoping to do with this project.

“And in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum and the National Archives and all these extraordinary places around the world, which we can tell through the VOC [Dutch East India Company], we can bring those collections together with the archaeology.”

Fremantle federal Labor MP Josh Wilson also announced $700,000 had been awarded to Notre Dame University to investigate, describe and compare the transfer of First Nation’s knowledge in the Kimberley and Southwest to understand how cultural and environment values had persisted despite colonisation.

“This is great news for Fremantle/Walyalup, a place and a community that has always valued and benefited from our rich heritage and history,” Mr Wilson said.

“Linkage Projects promote national and international research partnerships between researchers and business, industry, community organisations, and other publicly funded research agencies.

“It is fantastic that local researchers and innovators have been recognised and rewarded with these grants.”

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