Visualising Batavia Silverware

Imaging and Analysing VOC’s Precious Metal Trade Objects for Mughal India

This project aims to analyse and create 3D animations of the silverware carried on board the Batavia, which was shipwrecked off the Western Australian coast in 1629.

For more than 30 years, archaeologists have acknowledged a 'curation crisis' within their field: too many artefacts are excavated, while time and resources to properly analyse and interpret the archaeological finds are lacking. The WA Museum has the largest collection of Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipwreck material held anywhere in the world, a great part of which remains understudied. Among a total of 26,731 artefacts and 10,619 coins recovered from the Batavia shipwreck, the museum holds a unique group of a dozen pieces of 17th century Amsterdam silverware.

These items, including luxurious silver ewers, waterbasins, dishes, bowls and bedposts, were destined for the Mughal court as part of a VOC 'trial' intended to make the trade with India more profitable.

Most early modern silver has been lost because items were melted and materials reused, and these objects provide a valuable opportunity for material of the era to be examined through different methodologies and from different disciplinary angles. As well as digitally visualising these objects, this collaboration aims to create a fuller material and cultural understanding of these rare artefacts of Dutch-Australian maritime heritage.

Project goals

Render the highly reflective silver VOC objects in 3D, which enables the visualisation of fine surface details

Expand our knowledge regarding production techniques, composition and corrosion mechanisms of 17th century silver

Create a fuller understanding of processes of globalisation and cultural exchange between Europe and India



Shared Cultural Heritage Programme, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia

  • $24,574
  • 1 November 2019 – 1 November 2021


UWA Research Collaboration Award

  • $11,500
  • 1 January – 31 December 2020




This project is an international collaboration between:

  • Arvi Wattel, Susanne Meurer, Alistair Paterson and Alexandra Suvorova; UWA
  • Jeremy Green and Corioli Souter; Western Australian Museum
  • Robert Erdmann; University of Amsterdam/Rijksmuseum
  • Tamar Davidowitz; Rijksmuseum
  • Lidwien Jansen; The National Archives of the Netherlands

We aim to study the VOC silverware held at the WA Museum through different methodologies and from different disciplinary angles, and welcome expressions of interest from parties who could contribute expertise.

Prospective PhD students from multidisciplinary backgrounds are also invited to discuss possible topics.

Contact the Lead Investigator, Arvi Wattel, via the details below.


Contact Arvi Wattel

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