The Shipping Database

Over 56,000 searchable records of Dutch voyages, dates, ship types, ports of departure and origin, the movements of 1767 ships between 1595 and 1687, as well as data about cargos and other maritime trade activities between 1595 and 1660.

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Global Oceans


The longue duree maritime history and heritage of the Indian Ocean has shaped global
development.

Until recently, ocean spaces have gone comparatively unnoticed in world history. Significant investments are now being made into maritime pasts as a form of ‘shared heritage’ and as a
backdrop against which significant social and historical changes have taken place. Shipwrecks, port cities, museums, and historic sites are now being conserved and replicated to tell strategic, prescient, and relevant stories of ocean pasts to new audiences. Programs like Dhakira’s Landscapes of a Connectivity research project examining the historic and Arabian maritime trade routes illustrate future-looking uses of heritage and the past in nation-building and national identity, while others, like the shipping database, Avondster, and Ancient Boat Lab projects, analyze historic documents and material culture to understand past events. Global Oceans examines the ways in which the impacts of the 5000-year longue duree Indian Ocean maritime history and heritage can be tracked and now circulate in popular culture across nations and cultures. The programs investigate of heritage is being conserved and what forces are driving global research initiatives that invent and explore the heritage connecting East Africa to East Asia across the Indian Ocean.

The Global Oceans archive is a repository for assimilating existing and future data sets. Currently, records from diverse projects, including a database of Dutch ships in Asian waters in the 16th and 17th centuries, the documentation of the wreck of the Avondster and its impact on Galle World Heritage Site, and the joint Dhakira/NYUAD, Zayed University and Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism Bronze Age Ship project. Additional records, including intangible maritime narratives and experimental archaeology, will be added as they become available and as partners produce knowledge sets.


Analysis of these standalone data sets provides important insights into events and places, but by creating a space in which these can be viewed together, the Global Oceans HeritageLab allows for new ways of looking that can draw on multiple sources, both tangible and intangible. This, in turn, introduces opportunities to add and utilize knowledge from the past for identifying potential solutions for the challenges of the future.


The Global Ocean HeritageLab is linked closely with the UN Decade for Ocean Science and the Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations SDG 14 focused on conservation and the sustainable use of oceans, seas, and marine resources is a key element in the Decade of Ocean Science. Cultural Heritage plays a significant role in achieving this goal. As the process by which society interprets its past in the present and as an agent for community and identity formation, cultural heritage is, by definition, both forward-facing and future-making. Cultural heritage programs by UNESCO-accredited universities and NGOs have access to a unique set of inter- and intra-disciplinary scientific and humanistic data that provides extraordinary insights into past solutions applied to changing environments, the impacts of sea level change, and the sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems.

A collaborative institutional interdisciplinary heritage studies methodology gives scientists and social and humanities scholars access to exceptional resources that allow them to tap from traditional knowledge systems and know-how solutions embedded in the world’s collective memory.



In 1595, Dutch merchants mounted their first expedition by sea from Europe to the East. Within a decade they would become the dominant European trade force in the Indian Ocean, sparking a Dutch Golden Age of expansion and globalization.
Database of the Dutch Shipping Network in Asian Waters By 1669, the Dutch East India Company was the richest private company the world had ever seen, its ascendency driven by its most important asset – its ships. This database of ships
movements combine maritime and social history to provide a unique resource of known and new data on the voyages and vessels that gave the Company its ability to trade and profit year-round.


Within the context of HeritageLab’s ocean programs, the extension of European economic and cultural influence to Africa and Asia in the 17th century is a critical element in understanding maritime landscapes and connections. The shipping database is a keystone project in the longue duree study of the Indian Ocean and the historic trade routes.


Explore the Database


The database contains over 56,000 searchable records of Dutch voyages, dates, ship types,
ports of departure, and origin, as well as data about cargo and other maritime trade activities
between 1595 and 1660. It can be used to explore how trade routes, port activities, and ships
changed over time and give context to the changing maritime landscape of the Indian Ocean.

Explore History


When, in the 17th century, the European presence in the Indian Ocean burgeoned, the global
economic, political, and social environments were unequivocally changed. As the vehicles of
connection and mobility, ships were at the core of the establishment of trade ports,
partnerships and outposts and the ultimate dominance of Western powers in driving the formation
a globalized world


Explore Ship Types


The complexity of Dutch intra-Asian trade necessitated the design, construction, and
deployment of an extensive and eclectic fleet of ships. This database identifies and describes
the extensive array of fit-for-purpose vessels employed in the commercial network.

Searching the Database


The Dutch Ships in Asian Waters searchable database contains records of the movements of
1767 ships between 1595 and 1687.
The database can be searched by ship or place names, ship types as well as ranges of dates of
arrival and departure from ports or places.


How to Search


The Advanced Search popup window gives options to refine criteria to search the database.
The search-by-date functions allow users to enter a date range for arrivals and departures.
Enter a start and end year to identify all ships within those years. The search can be further
refined by entering month numbers. This will show all ship movements between the start
month of the start year and the end month of the end year.

For example, if a year range of Start: 1595 – End: 1620 and a month range of Start: 5 – End: 7 is entered a list of all ship movements between May 1595 and July 1620 will be returned. Note that a start and end must
be entered. If the search is for a single year, start and end date entries will be the same.
Searches by Place or Ship Name will return all data associated with a place or ship. Note that
ship names may return data on multiple ships with the same name. Entries in the place and ship
name search fields are autocomplete. Suggestions for names will appear in a dropdown list as
text is entered. The database is searchable by old and modern place names and by place names
that appear in archival records associated with ships. Ship names can be searched by name or
alternative names.


Searching by ship type returns records of the movements of various types of ships involved in
Dutch Asiatic trade. This allows users to explore the range of different kinds of ships to
understand the logistical and infrastructural systems for Dutch trade and expansion.
Search criteria can be used in combination or individually.