Searching for the Wreck of The Haarlem

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The Haarlem was a Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship that foundered in 1647 near present-day Cape Town. 62 crewmembers spent about a year in a survivor camp before being brought back to the Netherlands by a returning fleet.

During this period, they established friendly relations with indigenous people. Based on these experiences, VOC-management decided to establish a refreshment station for passing ships. The station was created in 1652 under the command of Jan van Riebeeck and later developed into the city of Cape Town.

Oil painting on canvas depicting the VOC return fleet from Batavia under the command of Wollebrant Geleijnssen or Geleijnsz de Jongh (*1594 †1674) that reached Table Bay in March 1648. From l. to r.: the flute Koning van Polen, on which Jan van Riebeeck sailed; the return ship Zutphen; the flute Noordmunster; the return ships Tijger and Rotterdam; the flagship Walvis; and Vrede, Oranje, Enkhuizen, Westfriesland, Delft and Henriette Louise. The painting, which is not dated and executed by an unknown artist possibly around 1674, measures 1352 x 2057mm. (Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, inv. nr. 20636. Reproduced with permission from the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar).

Oil painting on canvas depicting the VOC return fleet from Batavia under the command of Wollebrant Geleijnssen or Geleijnsz de Jongh (*1594 †1674) that reached Table Bay in March 1648. From l. to r.: the flute Koning van Polen, on which Jan van Riebeeck sailed; the return ship Zutphen; the flute Noordmunster; the return ships Tijger and Rotterdam; the flagship Walvis; and Vrede, Oranje, Enkhuizen, Westfriesland, Delft and Henriette Louise. The painting, which is not dated and executed by an unknown artist possibly around 1674, measures 1352 x 2057mm. (Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, inv. nr. 20636. Reproduced with permission from the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar).

The wrecking of the Haarlem and its consequences symbolise the earliest contacts between the Netherlands and South Africa, besides forming the roots for current multicultural and multiracial South African society.

The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) has already issued a permit for a survey to establish the exact location of the wreck of the Haarlem. The Haarlem Project is a cooperative project between the AIMURE and its partners. The book The wrecking of the ‘Haarlem’ (1647); the origin of Cape Town will be published by Unisa Press in Pretoria during the course of 2016.

During the nearly two centuries that the VOC was operational many of its ships perished. Only very few of these incidents had such far-reaching consequences as the wrecking of Haarlem. Although no pictures of this event exist, an engraving of the demise of the VOC ship Woestduin (1779) provides an impression of how the wreck of Haarlem may have looked like shortly after the ship grounded. (Public domain work of art).

During the nearly two centuries that the VOC was operational many of its ships perished. Only very few of these incidents had such far-reaching consequences as the wrecking of Haarlem. Although no pictures of this event exist, an engraving of the demise of the VOC ship Woestduin (1779) provides an impression of how the wreck of Haarlem may have looked like shortly after the ship grounded. (Public domain work of art).

The AIMURE

The African Institute for Marine & Underwater Research, Exploration & Education (AIMURE) is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation that was established in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2012. The Institute’s main objective is to study aspects of the marine and underwater environment around and on the African Continent. The AIMURE is registered with the South African Department of Social Development.

The AIMURE undertakes scientific research whereby the current emphasis is on maritime archaeological investigations. Besides that, the Institute has an Outreach Programme in place with participation of members of the public. A most important aspect of this Programme is swimming and diving instruction for disadvantaged youngsters from Cape Town’s poorest suburbs.

Learn more at: http://www.aimure.org

 

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The African Institute for Marine & Underwater Research, Exploration & Education (AIMURE) is a non-profit organisation. Any sponsorship or potential rewards from its activities are directly used to further the Institute’s objectives. The Institute strives to be as inclusive as possible. Its geographical focus is the continent of Africa. The AIMURE is already recognized as a leader in its field by international scientists and organisations.

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