Maandelijks archief: augustus 2016

Continuing the Van Bosse research on Tarama: agreeing on future activities

Maritiem Programma

The past few days were devoted to exploring the possibilities to learn more about the wreck Van Bosse which sank in 1857 off the coast of Tarama. By conducting several interviews with residents, who have been narrated stories about the wreck by their ancestors, but also with information from local books and archives we are able to develop scenarios about how the ship must have sunk after being leak bumped on the reef. This again helps us with the search for the wreck itself.

We have found objects, like an anchor, a bottle of gin, a huge chest and shards of major Chinese jars that may also have been on board the ship. But parts of the ship itself are still not found. Dr. Ikeda and Mr. Sasaki will focus their attention on this in November. Using a metal detector they will search the impact site, where most objects are found and…

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Continuing the Van Bosse research on Tarama: agreeing on future activities

The past few days were devoted to exploring the possibilities to learn more about the wreck Van Bosse which sank in 1857 off the coast of Tarama. By conducting several interviews with residents, who have been narrated stories about the wreck by their ancestors, but also with information from local books and archives we are able to develop scenarios about how the ship must have sunk after being leak bumped on the reef. This again helps us with the search for the wreck itself.

We have found objects, like an anchor, a bottle of gin, a huge chest and shards of major Chinese jars that may also have been on board the ship. But parts of the ship itself are still not found. Dr. Ikeda and Mr. Sasaki will focus their attention on this in November. Using a metal detector they will search the impact site, where most objects are found and everything in between will be swum and explored.

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The beach of Tarama at the spot where the Van Bosse ship presumably sank

At the same time they will continue to conduct interviews with the people of Tarama who know the stories about the wreck. An information project with the elementary school will be launched. In November, the children on the island can meet archaeologists and interview them for the project. In the Netherlands and Germany we will do further research into the archives.

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Meeting with the head of the island

The Van Bosse project is alive! It’s interesting and amazing to see how excited everyone is. The administration of the island would like to do more with the story and the wreck site. It would indeed give the particularly beautiful diving at Tarama an additional cultural and historical dimension. Then it becomes even more worthwhile to travel over here and visit this island paradise, voted one of the most beautiful municipalities of Japan.

Martijn Manders, maritime archaeologist / Head Maritime Programme RCE

Photo at the top: the highest point of the island, about 30 m, with a 15 / 16th century lighthouse

 

Searching underwater for the Van Bosse ship (1857)

A team of underwater archaeologists consisting of two members of the Japanese National Committee for Research and the Examination of Underwater Cultural Heritage Dr. Ikeda and Dr. Kimura, as well as mr. Sasaki from the National Museum of Kyushu and mr. Manders from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands has arrived on Tarama island. This is one of the most Southwestern Islands of the Japanese archipelago, actually very close to Taiwan.

In November a Japanese team of professional archaeologists and sports divers associated with the only dive school on the island – Jaws 2 – will map and assess the site of the Van Bosse wreck and make it accessible for the sports divers who spend their holidays on the island. The visit now in August is mainly initiated as a start of the project about the Van Bosse shipwreck which includes also educational elements and archival research in several countries. The 22nd of August the team was welcomed by the department of education of the island that effectively is responsible for the management of this and other archaeological sites. They have assured us that all help in this is welcome. After this meeting we went to the dive shop to sort out our gears and then settled down in our condo which we share together.

The evening was used to discuss the possibilities to find elements of the wrecksite underwater and to pinpoint the exact place of wreckage, which is still not completely known. Dr. Kaneda wrote in 2001 an article ‘Historical Investigation concerning the Dutch Ship Van Bosse Wrecked Off the coast of the Tarama Islet’ and this article has also been discussed between the archaeologists in order to find out what the chances of finding wreckage are and what kind of research should be further conducted.

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The morning on the 23rd we were up early to go diving from the beach to the place where the ship according to accounts must have wrecked and where a fisherman has salvaged many pottery over the years. Indeed by walking on the beach we collected many pottery shards of different kinds. These are however mainly Chinese.

The coastal waters around the island Tarama are very shallow and abruptly become much deeper with here and there dangerous rocks ending just a few meters under the sea surface. For somebody who is not acquainted with these waters, it is a dangerous place. The underwater world, just at the edge of shallow and deep is however stunningly beautiful!

The second dive today was in deeper waters with the dive shop Jaws 2 and their ship. At 28 meters of depth, again on the edge of where the water gets very shallow and  near the place we had been diving in the morning, a considerable amount of pottery shards from large Chinese storage jars can be seen lying on the seabed. Were these used at the Van Bosse ship? It came from China…

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Also an enormous iron crate was discovered. Definitely something has happened here. The area however is large and the research in November should reveal the size of the site and maybe even also the location of impact: where the ship has hit the reef.

Tonight we will talk with an old fisherman. Let’s see if he can help us out.  Tomorrow, the 24th we are invited by the head of the island, similar to a mayor and in the afternoon we have a round up with the advisory board of the heritage of Tarama. Then up to Fukuoka for further talks at the Kyushu National Museum, our partner in shared heritage management.

Martijn Manders, maritime archaeologist/Head Maritime Programme RCE

Japanese – Dutch research on shipwreck Van Bosse about to begin

In August, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) is joining forces with the Kyushu National Museum to conduct an exploratory research on the Dutch shipwreck Van Bosse. The research focuses on exploring opportunities for mapping the Van Bosse and providing accessibility to the wreck for local sports divers. The project is a continuation of existing cooperation with Japan in the field of maritime archeology within the framework of Dutch Shared Cultural Heritage policy. The site of this Dutch wreck is already protected locally. The ship was built in Germany, but registered by the Dutch owner in Rotterdam.

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The ship Van Bosse was originally built in 1854 in Germany. The 665t big three master barque, which was employed by the Bonke & Co. Trading in Rotterdam was on its way from Shanghai to Singapore when it sank during a storm in 1857 at Tarama island, Okinawa prefecture. Luckily all 27 people on board survived, but before they could return to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies, people stayed several months in Okinawa and integrated into the local community.

The story of the sinking of the Van Bosse and the interaction of the people of Tarama with the crew of the ship are recorded in detail. It gives us a good insight into the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the relationship that it had with foreign powers at a time when the self-isolationism of Japan had just been lifted. It is striking that until few years ago nobody knew exactly what ship it was, although the story of the sinking of the ship was well known. We know it now, thanks to extensive research in Dutch archives.

The Van Bosse shipwreck is registered as a Village Historic Site (オ ラ ン ダ 船 遭難 の 地: Oranda-sen Sonan no Chi ~ Site of Dutch ship wreck). It lies on a reef at depths ranging from a few meters to about 30 meters. Over the years, an iron anchor was lifted, which is on display in a local museum, and several other finds such as a complete Lucas Bols gin bottle and some salvaged porcelain shards.

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However, there’s more to be found. Despite the protected status of the ship an archeological significance assessment of the wreck site has not yet been made. This will take place this autumn and is having its official start now in August, with a first joint visit to the site. Ultimately this will lead to a management plan for the site in which all interests should be taken into account. The Van Bosse wreck is already dived regularly by sport divers. A local dive shop has voluntarily undertaken protection of the site. The local authorities are working on an active promotion. The aim is to use the wreck to attract more recreational divers to the island. But what measures are necessary to facilitate an intensive visit of sports divers? How, for example, can the remains underwater be protected while still visible and accessible to visitors? And there is need for more information about the site to allow divers to fully experience the wreck and its history when they are underwater.

In August Dr. Ikeda from the University of Okinawa, Dr. Jun Kimura of the Tokai University in Tokyo (with students), Randy Sasaki of the Kyushu National Museum and Martijn Manders (RCE)  will officially start the project. In November, the Japanese partners will conduct follow-up research historical research in the Netherlands and Germany will be coordinated by the RCE.

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Late August the World Archaeological Congress (WAC http://wac8.org/) will be held in Kyoto, Japan. As part of the Japanese – Dutch cooperation Martijn Manders and Yoshihi Akashi will represent the Fukuoka prefecture and chair the session ‘Global Perspectives on Underwater Cultural Heritage Management’. The presentations will elaborate on universal values of the underwater cultural heritage management, what needs to be improved in management and the way countries can cooperate in the protection of underwater cultural heritage. This fits exactly with the way the research on the Van Bosse shipwreck is implemented: a collaboration between various parties in the country where the ship sank, Japan, and the country of origin, the Netherlands.

Martijn Manders, maritime archaeologist/Head Maritime Programme RCE

Nederlanders overzee in Brazilië: met een dikke scheepshuid op reis

Brazilië is tussen 1630 en 1654 voor een deel bezet geweest door Nederland. Mensen, goederen en wapens moesten worden ingevoerd met schepen vanuit Europa en de Westkust van Afrika om de suikerplantages aan de gang te houden en te beschermen tegen indringers. De lange tocht door warme tropische wateren was niet goed voor de huid van de houten zeilschepen.
Begroeiing zorgde voor een vertraging in de reis maar erger nog was de aantasting van de planken door de paalworm (Teredo navalis). Binnen zeer korte tijd kon stevig eikenhout verpulverd worden door dit schelpdiertje dat lange tunnels door het hout eet en zich erin nestelt. Columbus had hier einde 15de eeuw al grote problemen mee en vele zeelieden op weg naar (Zuid-) Amerika na hem leden hierdoor schipbreuk. Geen prettig vooruitzicht, zeker niet wanneer de schepen lange tijd in de tropen waren. Dat was het geval met de schepen van de Westindische Compagnie en de Admiraliteit (Marine) die maanden of zelfs jaren in Brazilië moesten verblijven. Uiteindelijk werd hier een oplossing voor gevonden, geen goedkope, maar het zorgde wel voor een aanzienlijke vergroting van de kans om heelhuids terug te komen.

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Een (extra) dikke houten huid
We weten al langer dat voor de schepen van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) een extra opofferingslaag van dun en goedkoop naaldhout werd bevestigd op de belangrijke eikenhouten huidlaag van het schip. Deze zogeheten dubbeling werd met duizenden spijkers met grote koppen bevestigd. De roestvorming van deze spijkers en een extra laag van koeienhaar tussen de planken zorgden voor een aanzienlijke vertraging van de aantasting van de scheepshuid. Na iedere reis werd die opofferingslaag verwijderd en wanneer nodig vervangen voor een nieuwe. Deze bescherming was echter te weinig voor de schepen die lange tijd in de tropen moesten verblijven. Dit werd gecompenseerd door de toevoeging van een volledige extra huid van eikenhout. Althans dat denken we nu. In de afgelopen jaren hebben archeologen verschillende Nederlandse scheepswrakken aangetroffen met die extra dikke en driedubbele huid: twee eiken huidlagen en een naaldhouten dubbeling. Allemaal schepen die lang in de tropen moesten verblijven.

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De Utrecht
Een mooi en eerste voorbeeld uit de ‘West’ is het oorlogsschip ‘de Utrecht’ dat in 1648 zonk in de allerheiligenbaai bij Salvador de Bahia in Brazilië. Een opgraving van dit schip zou veel nieuwe informatie kunnen opleveren omdat nog vrij veel van de houten romp bewaard is gebleven. Zo zouden we erachter kunnen komen of die extra laag er al tijdens de nieuwbouw van een schip op werd gezet en dat schepen dus specifiek voor de tropen gemaakt werden, of dat die extra huidlaag er pas op een later moment werd opgezet vlak voor de uitvaart van een schip. Dit is weer interessante informatie omdat deze gegevens ons iets vertellen over planning, economie en geopolitiek.

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Nederlandse schepen dus die goed voorbereid op reis gingen. En dan lagen er nog allerlei risico’s op de loer. Een groot probleem was wel de malaria. Nog altijd is dit een ziekte – overgebracht door muggen – die je niet graag oploopt, net als het zika virus waar nu zoveel om te doen is. Dan kan het materiaal wel goed zijn, maar als de mensen zelf niets meer kunnen, dan houdt alles op.

Martijn Manders, maritiem archeoloog en hoofd Maritiem Programma RCE