Amsterdam University Press recently released Desert Survival in Oman, 1763: The fate of the Amstelveen and thirty castaways on the South Coast of Arabia by Klaas Doornbos. Doornbos, above, wrote the book after a friend gave him a logbook purchased at an antiques market in Southern France. As Doornbos told The Week:
I am not a professional maritime historian or a cartographer; I am a retired professor. But I was asked to solve the problem of the wreckage. The log that was found was useful, but I couldn’t solve it solely based on that. I used Google Earth and looking at the topography and the map I was able to determine the area where the ship wrecked. We still don’t know the exact location of the wreck because there was no evidence. The ship was shattered and, I suppose, pillaged later.
The book sounds fascinating–I hope to get my hands on a copy and give it a proper review. But it sounds like a book will have appeal to a range of scholars and general readers alike.
Thirty seamen survived the shipwreck of a Dutch East Indiaman on the south coast of Oman. They walked hundreds of kilometers in the burning sun, barefoot and almost naked, in the hope of reaching civilisation. Their journey through the desolate wilderness was agonising. Some of the men did not make it, while the fate of others remained uncertain.
Cornelis Eyks, third mate on the Amstelveen, and over twenty other castaways, finally reached Muscat. Never before had anyone undertaken such a journey. Eyks started his report on the shipwreck and the journey to Muscat a few weeks after his arrival. It is the oldest surviving European account of the desert coast of Oman and the people who lived there. Eyks’ logbook was recently found in France. It has been used gratefully in the retelling of this incredible VOC story.