Rockley Bay Research Project – Institute of Nautical Archaeology Institute of Nautical Archaeology Sun, 18 Feb 2018 21:37:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Press conference to be held in NYC Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:53:51 +0000 Thanks to Jason Paterniti, a press conference to announce our discoveries, correct some errors that have made it into the media and to announce the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation award that RBRP won for conservation of the artifacts from Rockley Bay, will be held at the headquarters of the Explorer’s Club.

The article in UCONN today has eliminated some of the errors already. Much to my surprise this really made it around the world and we are fielding inquiries, which made us organize the press conference. The response to our discoveries has been overwhelming!


Publicity on INA’s Tobago project Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:42:53 +0000

This article just made it online today and had gathered much interest and comments at the University of Connecticut. The release of the article coincided with a lecture I gave today at the Humanities Institute of UCONN on our research into the 1677 battle of Tobago. Alas, the article has some glaring errors, as the writer has not incorporated my corrections. The most obvious ones are that we are not sponsored by National Geographic and that not all the cannon are 18 or 24-pounders. Still, it is good publicity and specifically mentions INA.

Kroum Batchvarov, assistant professor of maritime archaeology, prepares a site plan for an underwater excavation.  Photo: Jason Paterniti

Kroum Batchvarov, preparing site plan for excavation.
Photo: Jason Paterniti

Research update Fri, 19 Sep 2014 01:34:50 +0000 In August Jason and I went to Providence, Rhode Island, to the John Carter Brown library and looked at an original copy of a broadsheet with a detailed engraving and description of the Battle of Tobago. It seems that the artist worked either from personal observation, or – far more probably – from the description of an eye witness. The geography is very nearly accurate. The naval battle is depicted at the height of the action, with Bescherming, Commandeur Jacob Binckes’ flagship, and Zeelandia already aground (right corner of the image), the Spherae Mundi, one of the transports on board of which were hidden the women, children and slaves, is already ablaze and in front of her is another of the transports. Spherae Mundi is easily recognizable, because she was a fluyt, with the characteristic pear-shaped stern: the only part of the vessel that is clearly visible in the flames.

Here is a link to the broadsheet:


In right centre of the naval action, are visible two ships ablaze: the French flagship, La Glorieux and the Dutch ship Huis de Kruiningen.


Report from the field… Fri, 01 Aug 2014 23:52:52 +0000 Although we lost days and days due to the sinking of our boat, bad weather and politics… we had a phenomenal season. Not only are we certain that we have found one of the Dutch ships of 1677, but—I will go on a limb a bit here—we are 85% certain that this is Huis de Kruiningen of 56 guns, built in 1653

Excavation underway at Rockly Bay.









She was the largest Dutch ship at the battle and went down fighting against very heavy odds indeed. Alas, no coherent hull structure has emerged, but the finds have been phenomenal. It began with a small bellarmine jar, then a small delftware jar of unclear type or use, then loads of smoking pipes, then fragments of two more bellarmine jars and other pottery. The other day we found about 7 lead shot, of three different calibers. None was ever fired. Yesterday came one of the most spectacular finds, a complete pottery jar, fairly large with three escutcheons on it. They apparently show the Great Generals — Alexander the Great in the middle, flanked by Joshua on the right and David on his left.

All in all, we could not be happier with the finds. We really have accomplished what we set out to accomplish.

Summer 2014 season begins Tue, 27 May 2014 22:00:47 +0000 We are back in Tobago after the extremely successful remote-sensing survey carried out in March – thank you, J. B. Pelletier, for all that you did for us! It was a pleasure to work with you!

Three team members, Professor Nigel Nayling of University of Wales Trinity St David, Mr. Jason Paterniti and Kroum Batchvarov arrived in Tobago on the 22nd, followed a couple of days later by Tom Lacey, one of my former students from UCONN. Our dive platform again is the M/V Blu Spartan owned and operated by Captain Ian “Wabba” Milne.

We undertook a few preliminary dives on TRB-5, which was located during the March survey and were rewarded by at least one more cannon. Now we have confirmed the presence of seven, possibly eight cannon on the site. Bricks, possibly from a gallery, have been found in high concentration and preliminary measurements suggest that they conform to the standard established in the 1640s in the Dutch city of Leiden. The cannon, too, are consistent with 17th century date, but are too heavily concreted to be able to tell much about them.

We are looking forward to a productive season!

Rockly Bay Research Project – Tobago Fri, 07 Jun 2013 05:40:08 +0000 Led by Dr. Kroum Batchvarov (Anthropology Department / Maritime Studies Program, University of Connecticut) researchers are now in the water off the shores of the island of Tobago in the southern Caribbean.

The Institute recently received a permit from the government of Tobago to conduct a multi-phased archaeological investigation of the vessels that sank in a battle at what is today called Scarborough Harbour in Tobago. INA, the University of Connecticut and Loyola University Chicago are co-sponsoring a full-scale excavation of the remains that will have, as its primary objective, the detailed recording of the structure of the vessels.

In 1677 a French squadron assisted by a large detachment of troops attempted to wrest control of Tobago from the powerful Dutch West Indies Company. The two sides engaged in battle at what is today called Scarborough Harbour. At the end of the engagement, the Dutch had lost more vessels, but they succeeded in repelling the French landing party, destroying the four largest French vessels (including the flagship) and retaining possession of the island.

For more background information visit the project pages.

Dr. Kroum Batchvarov with pot discovered by Doug Inglis.

Dr. Kroum Batchvarov with pot discovered by Doug Inglis.