Kabaena Expedition

29th April - 6th of May 2016 KABAENA RECONNAISSANCE EXPEDITION led by Dr Horst Leibner

On March 4, 1650, two hours before daybreak, five ships of the Dutch East India Company stranded on the reef of Sagori, a then still uncharted atoll some miles west off the island of Kabaena, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia.  All efforts to refloat the ships proved fruitless; however, in the two months to come the nearly 600 shipwrecked sailors and soldiers managed to construct a new vessel out of the leftovers of their small fleet, with which they eventually rescued themselves and better part of the ships’ cargo and armament – and established diplomatic ties with the nearby Sultanate of Buton that were to shape the political landscape of the region for the next 300 years.

“Since the find of the journal of the events in the National Archives of the Netherlands more than ten years ago I had hoped that the remains of this fleet would finally be located,” says Dr. Horst Liebner, the leader of the expedition, adding that “our close and productive collaboration with the people of Sagori Island and the local administration should now be a good foundation for further exploration of the site”.  For the Director of the regional Bureau for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Drs. Laode Aksa Mahmud, the discovery of the last resting place of the Eastindiamen is a pioneering example for an international co-operation that should be expanded upon: “We could start an archaeological campaign by next year – yet ideally would hope for a close collaboration with the Netherlands and Germany, where many of the soldiers aboard the fleet had hailed from.”

A pre-survey report is available at  http://www.oxis.org/resources-3/unpublished/sagori-island.pdf