Hoaxes and folklore: Inscriptions associated with the Vergulde Draak (1656) and Zuiddorp (1712) shipwrecking events

06th November 2013

Wendy van Duivenvoorde,  Mark E. Polzer and Peter J. Downes

This article discusses two inscriptions thought to be associated with wrecks of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) ships Vergulde Draak and Zuiddorp, off the Western Australian coastline. We evaluate their authenticity using comparative studies with similar contemporaneous Dutch inscriptions, placing them within the broader context of pseudoarchaeology and the public preoccupation surrounding shipwrecks. The morphology and manufacture of the lettering argues against a 17th or 18th century provenance. Further, photographic records of the Zuiddorp site indicate that its associated inscription is modern. We argue these inscriptions were likely attempts by
enthusiasts to ‘participate’ in the shipwrecking stories, or to claim some recognition with regards to the wrecks. Whatever the reasons, they have been used as evidence to support
unorthodox hypotheses about the shipwrecks’ survivors, and serve to keep these theories alive in the public imagination.

Figure caption: Inscription left by crew of VOC ship Wapen van Rotterdam in 1626, Nosy Mangabé, Madagascar (published in Australian Archaeology 77:58).

van Duivenvoorde, W., M.E. Polzer and P.J. Downes
Hoaxes and folklore: Inscriptions associated with the Vergulde Draak (1656) and Zuiddorp (1712) shipwrecking events
Dec 2013
77
52–65
Article
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