17th-century Dutch shipwreck found near Brazil

Gold ducat recovered from the VoetboogThe Voetboog left what is now Jakarta loaded with treasure destined for The Netherlands. It sank with all hands off the coast of Pernambuco, Brazil on May 29, 1700.

Now a team of Hungarian divers have found what little is left of the ship and what lot is left of its cargo.

Owned by the Dutch East India Company, the Fluyt ship carried silk, spices, tea, Japanese and Chinese porcelain as well as nearly 180,000 pieces of Dutch golden ducats.

“The estimated value of the wreckage is about 1 billion dollars,” said [expedition leader Attila K.] Szaloky.

They actually found it in October of 2008, but only announced it now that the first phase of examination and recovery is complete.

The ship has almost entirely disintegrated over the 309 years of its burial at sea, but those ducats are still in fine fettle, hence the enormous price tag on this find. In fact, the cargo remains are how the archaeologists were able to identify the wreckage. Most of the wreck is still untouched until meters of sediment.

The finds will eventually all be brought to the surface and conserved in keeping with Brazilian law.

There are some underwater pictures of the wreckage on this Russian site. I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I likes me some pretty pictures.

7 thoughts on “17th-century Dutch shipwreck found near Brazil

  1. Very interesting. I wrote a dissertation on the treatment of African slaves in Dutch Brazil, so I’m curious to find out more about this!

    1. And I’m curious to find out more about your dissertation. Are we talking 17th c. when the Dutch still held coastal Brazil, or the formerly Dutch areas even after the Portuguese took over?

      Slavery in the Americas is a fascinating topic, especially in Brazil which took so long to abolish.

      1. I worked on the 1630-1654 Dutch Brazil because I mainly used a manuscript from Adriaan Van der Dussen in which he informed the newly appointed governor Johan Maurits how the country was run and what the needs of the people were.

        I have a printed copy of that dissertation, if you wish I can try and find an electronic copy. Though you should note that I’m very displeased with the content as I only had three months to finish it as we only were allowed to start working on it in February. It was never the intention of the university to have that master-after-master deliver real dissertations but more like a 50-page summary of research without much input. (Luckily my first dissertation from my master in history has more content!)

        If I can find that dissertation I can probably also find quite some summaries of books I read on slavery in Brazil. If you’re interested in that, I can send it to you.

        1. I would love to read it or any sources you might have handy. Don’t put yourself to any trouble, please, but if you have an electronic copy I’d be thrilled to receive it at livius dot drusus at gmail dot com. :thanks:

  2. I am researching te life of Hendrick van Brunsvelt. He staid at Recife from 1640-1654. He was a goldsmith and is said to have made the ‘stempels’ for the ‘ducaten”. Do you have any information about this period and could you send it to me?

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