Branch Presentations

ANZFSS WA Presentation

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Networking & refreshments available from 5:30 pm. Presentation to begin at 6:00 pm. 

Venue: Exhibition Space of Building 500, Curtin University, Bentley.

Human skeletal remains associated with the mutiny of the VOC Retourschip Batavia, 1629: description and interpretation of the 2015/2016 field seasons

The WA Branch of the Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society invites you to join us for our next branch meeting, to be held on Wednesday 18 April 2018, commencing at 5:30pm, and featuring a presentation by A/Prof Daniel Franklin from The University of Western Australia.  Information regarding the evening is included below:



On 4 June 1629, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) retourschip Batavia wrecked on Morning Reef, in the Houtman Abrolhos, approximately 65 km off the Western Australian coast.  The macabre events following the wrecking saw more than 100 individuals murdered over a three-month period, by mutineers attempting to subjugate surviving crew and passengers. The historical significance of the latter is well established, and has been reconstructed, through the analysis of an extensive archaeological record, both maritime and terrestrial. With specific reference to known discoveries of human skeletal remains, four individual burials were recovered on Beacon Island between 1960 to 1964; a further six individuals were recovered from a multiple grave that was excavated in stages between 1994 and 2001.

A multi-disciplinary collaboration of national and international partners performed a remote sensing program involving magnetics and conductivity mapping and GPR profiling followed by a series of targeted excavations on Beacon Island in January and February of 2015, and November 2016; this included the excavation of the recently rediscovered location of the postcranial remains of a skull originally removed in 1964, in addition to excavations in the southern region of the island where a human molar was found 2013. The latter discovery proved fortuitous, with the excavation culminating in the discovery of an intact human burial at over one meter in depth. Further excavation in the area to the immediate north led to the discovery of a further two individuals buried in direct association, one on top of the other. In 2016 a further individual was found, along with ceramics.

The aim of the present presentation is to briefly describe the skeletal remains of the 2015-16 field season, including their burial context, and preliminary analyses of their demographics (sex, age and stature), including descriptions of potential palaeopathology. The discovery in late 2017 of a communal grave containing the remains of a further five individuals is also briefly considered.


Presenter Biography:

Daniel Franklin is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, and Director of the Centre for Forensic Anthropology, at the University of Western Australia. His current research largely involves the development of alternative techniques to facilitate the rapid and accurate identification of unknown skeletal remains, most recently focussing on addressing the validation, accuracy and improvement of forensic anthropological methods, with a specific emphasis on the development of Australian identification standards. Daniel’s work to-date has resulted in over 40 peer-reviewed publications in international and national journals, which continues through competitive funding obtained from various sources. He is Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Legal Medicine. Daniel has been involved in the excavation and analysis of human skeletal remains associated with the Batavia mutiny since 1999, most recently as a co-investigator on an ongoing Australian Research Council project: Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties: A Maritime Archaeological Reassessment of some of Australia’s Earliest Shipwrecks.


A summary of the event details is as follows:

When: Wednesday 18 April 2018, networking from 5:30pm.

Where: Exhibition Space, Building 500, Curtin University, Bentley.

RSVP: Essential for catering purposes.

Please click here to register through the ANZFSS Event Page (necessary for catering purposes).