Cervantes: the life and legacy of an American whaler

Author: Taylor Leanne Gray

Gray, Taylor Leanne, 2019 Cervantes: the life and legacy of an American whaler, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Despite being vital to the development of early Australian colonies, whaling in the nineteenth century is an understudied area of Australia’s history. This thesis aims to provide some information on a small part of that history to help fill the gap in knowledge by focusing on one shipwreck: Cervantes, a nineteenth-century American whaler wrecked off the coast of West Australia. Historical research was used to build a vessel history, using a maritime cultural landscape approach to filter relevant information. Archaeological investigations, using X-ray fluorescence and wood species identification and basic recording methods, were used to give specific information on construction materials. Present day connections between the ship and local communities were analysed using interviews, site visits and government documents. By utilising various approaches, the history and impact of will be told as completely as possible. By combining the study of the physical artefacts and research into the social facets connected to the site this study provides a holistic view of Cervantes, including the materials used in construction, crew demographics, routes, personal stories and modern-day interactions with the site. These various aspects, tangible and intangible, are used to broaden the study of the shipwreck; to take the research past measurements and data and to allow a site to tell a story of the people and places to which it is connected.

Keywords: Whaling, United States of America, Nineteenth Century

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Wendy Van Duivenvoorde