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Battle of Tobago is topic of Nov. 14 archaeology lecture

Barry McNamara
11/12/2019
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Nearly 350 years ago, a battle in the Caribbean between two European nations left 12 ships at the bottom of a bay.

The next Archaeology Lecture at Monmouth College will recount that maritime conflict between France and the Netherlands, as well as the efforts to recover the lone surviving vessel.

University of Connecticut maritime archaeology professor Kroum Batchvarov will deliver the lecture 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in Pattee Auditorium in the Center for Science and Business. Titled “The Battle of Tobago 1677: In Search of the Dutch Men-of-War,” his talk is free and open to the public.

“The talk’s setting in the worlds of sea battles, shipwrecks and underwater archaeological excavations should appeal to a broad audience,” said Monmouth classics professor Bob Simmons.

After more than a two-week desultory campaign, on March 3, 1677, French Vice-Admiral Jean d’Estrees launched an attack on an inferior Dutch squadron anchored in Rockley Bay in the island nation of Tobago, commanded by the experienced and competent Jakob Binckes. Two years earlier, Binckes had recaptured New York for the Netherlands. The French attack was beaten off, but a total of 12 ships were lost during the battle.

Batchvarov is the project director and principal investigator for the Rockley Bay Project, which is supported by the University of Connecticut and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. The project has located and tentatively identified the only one of the vessels to survive the modernization of the port of Scarborough Harbour.

Batchvarov has a number of ongoing archaeological projects in addition to the Rockley Bay Project, including the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (as co-principal investigator) and the Vasa Project, which involves the analysis of construction and documentation of a 17th-century Dutch-built man-of-war). He also serves as co-principal investigator for the Ropotamo inundated Chalcolithic settlement excavation off the Bulgarian coast, which is part of the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project.

The Archaeological Institute of America’s McCann/Taggart Lecturer for 2019-20, Batchvarov recently began work on the wreck of the Danish royal ship Gribshunden, which sank in 1495. His talk at Monmouth is sponsored by the AIA’s Western Illinois Society.