Tag Archives: discovered
Captain James Cook arrived in the Pacific 250 years ago, triggering British colonisation of the region. We’re asking researchers to reflect on what happened and how it shapes us today. You can see other stories in the series here, and an interactive here.
Approaching the 250th anniversary of Cook’s first journey to the Pacific, The Conversation asked readers what they remembered learning at school about his arrival in Australia.
Most people said they learnt Cook “discovered” Australia – especially if they were at school before the 1990s.
Depending on when you went to school, you may have learnt differently about Captain Cook’s role in Australian history. To find out how the teaching of Cook in Australian schools has changed, I examined textbooks used in the 1950s until today.
School years 1950s and early 1960s
If you were at school after the second world war to the mid-1960s, Australia still had strong links to the British Empire.
Cook was portrayed as a one of the greatest explorers in history and textbooks presented clear messages Cook “discovered” Australia and “took possession” of the land for England.
The 1959 Queensland text Social Studies for Standard VIII (Queensland) by G.T Roscoe said Cook “landed on Possession Island, hoisted the Union Jack, claiming the country for the King of England”.
In Conquering the Continent (1961), C.H. Wright mentions some contact with Indigenous people at Botany Bay, but there is no mention of conflict. Wright writes
The blacks offered little resistance; they quickly stood off after being frightened by gun shots.
School years 1965 to 1979
If you went to school between 1965 and 1979, you were learning during the era of the Whitlam, Fraser and Hawke governments.
This was when awareness was beginning to grow of the negative impact of colonisation on Australia’s Indigenous people.
E.S. Elphick’s 1974 Birth of a Nation continued the “discovery and possession” narrative, but acknowledged Indigenous people were in Australia beforehand:
The first Australians came here at least 30,000 years ago, and for all but the last 200 years of this period enjoyed uninterrupted possession of the land they came to[…] The white man, in fact, took a very long time to arrive.
Paul Ashton’s chapter in David Stewart’s Investigating Australian History Using Evidence (1985) encouraged students to “work as historians” by examining primary sources (in this case old maps) and evaluating interpretations of history.
Ashton emphasised the importance of the scientific “discovery”:
Cook’s achievements were indeed great, as were his talents as a navigator. At last, a reasonably accurate chart of the east coast of Australia could be added to European knowledge of the continent, along with a mass of natural and scientific discoveries. However, the discovery was not as yet completed […]
School in 1981 to 1995
If you went to school in the 1980s and early to mid ‘90s, you may have learnt history from a more inclusive perspective that included the lived experiences of those who were largely left out of the traditional narrative, such as children, women and Indigenous people.
But in Australia: All Our Yesterdays (1999), author Meg Grey Blanden presented a benign account of Cook facing no resistance from Indigenous people:
On a small island now named Possession Island, Cook performed the last and most important official task of his entire voyage. Like others of his time, Cook was undeterred by the presence of native people on the island. He noted that they obligingly departed and left the Europeans to get on with their ceremony.
School in 1996 to 2015
In the first decade of the 21st century, history was embedded into social studies in all states and territories, except New South Wales. Australian colonial history focused on “discovery”, foundation and expansion was relegated to years four to six.
Some teachers may have chosen to use critical inquiry to teach about Cook’s expedition in year nine. Most tended to focus on the more complicated 20th century history of world wars and progress in year nine and ten syllabuses.
The Australian Curriculum, which was implemented in all schools from 2012, has maintained this chronological divide of historical knowledge. In year four, students learn about Cook by “examining the journey of one or more explorers of the Australian coastline … using navigation maps to reconstruct their journeys”.
It would be unusual for secondary teachers these days to teach their students about Cook because the topic is not in the secondary curriculum.
This means if children do not learn about Cook’s achievements in the primary years it’s quite possible if they were asked what they learnt about Cook in school, they may not know anything about him.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at new monuments discovered in Ireland.
The collapsing Nazi government ordered all U-boats in German ports to make their way to their bases in Norway on May 2, 1945. Two days later, the recently commissioned U-3523 joined the mission as one of the most advanced boats in the fleet. But to reach their destination, the submarines had to pass through the bottleneck of the Skagerrak – the strait between Norway and Denmark – and the UK’s Royal Air Force was waiting for them. Several U-boats were sunk and U-3523 was destroyed in an air attack by a Liberator bomber.
U-3523 lay undiscovered on the seabed for over 70 years until it was recently located by surveyors from the Sea War Museum in Denmark. Studying the vessel will be of immense interest to professional and amateur historians alike, not least as a way of finally putting to rest the conspiracy theory that the boat was ferrying prominent Nazis to Argentina. But sadly, recovering U-3523 is not a realistic proposition. The main challenges with such wrecks lie in accurately identifying them, assessing their status as naval graves and protecting them for the future.
U-boat wrecks like these from the end of World War II are the hardest to match to historical records. The otherwise meticulous record keeping of the Kriegsmarine (Nazi navy) became progressively sparser, breaking down completely in the last few weeks of the war. But Allied records have helped determine that this newly discovered wreck is indeed U-3523. The sea where this U-boat was located was heavily targeted by the RAF because it knew newly-built boats would flee to Norway this way.
The detailed sonar scans of the wreck site show that it is without doubt a Type XXI U-boat, of which U-3523 was the only one lost in the Skagerrak and unaccounted for. These were new types of submarines that contained a number of innovations which had the potential to make them dangerous opponents. This was primarily due to enlarged batteries, coupled to a snorkel, which meant they could stay permanently underwater. Part of the RAF’s mission was to prevent any of these new vessels getting to sea to sink Allied ships, and it successfully prevented any Type XXI U-boats from doing so.
With the U-boat’s identity correctly established, we now know that it is the grave site of its crew of 58 German servicemen. As such, the wreck should either be left in peace or, more implausibly, recovered and the men buried on land. Germany lost over 800 submarines at sea during the two world wars and many have been found in recent years. It is hopelessly impractical to recover them all, so leaving them where they are is the only real option.
Under international law all naval wrecks are termed “sovereign immune”, which means they will always be the property of the German state despite lying in Danish waters. But Denmark has a duty to protect the wreck, especially if Germany asks it to do so.
Hundreds of wartime wreck sites such as U-3523 are under threat around the world from metal thieves and grave robbers. The British cruiser HMS Exeter, which was sunk in the Java Sea on May 1, 1942, has been entirely removed from the seabed for scrap. And wrecks from the 1916 Battle of Jutland that also lie partly in Danish waters have seen industrial levels of metal theft. These examples serve as a warning that organised criminals will target shipwrecks of any age for the metals they contain.
Germany and the UK are among a number of countries currently pioneering the use of satellite monitoring to detect suspicious activity on shipwrecks thought to be under threat. This kind of monitoring could be a cost-effective way to save underwater cultural heritage from criminal activity and its use is likely to become widespread in the next few years.
The recovery cost is only a small fraction of the funds needed to preserve and display an iron object that has been immersed in the sea for many years. So bringing a wreck back to the surface should not be undertaken lightly. In nearly all cases of salvaged U-boats, the results have been financially ruinous. Lifting barges that can raise shipwrecks using large cranes cost tens of thousands of pounds a day to charter. Once recovered, the costs of conservation and presentation mount astronomically as the boat will rapidly start to rust.
The U-boat U-534 was also sunk by the RAF in 1945, close to where U-3523 now lies. Its crew all evacuated that boat, meaning that she was not a grave when recovered from the sea in 1993 by Danish businessman Karsten Ree, allegedly in the somewhat incredible belief that it carried Nazi treasure. At a reported cost of £3m, the operation is thought to have been unprofitable. The boat contained nothing special, just the usual mundane objects carried on a U-boat at war.
Similar problems were experienced by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in the UK when it raised the Holland 1 submarine in 1982. In that case, the costs of long-term preservation proved much greater than anticipated after the initial rust-prevention treatment failed to stop the boat corroding. It had to be placed in a sealed tank full of alkali sodium carbonate solution for four years until the corrosive chloride ions had been removed, and was then transferred to a purpose-built exhibition building to protect it further.
The expensive process of raising more sunken submarines will add little to our knowledge of life at sea during World War II. But each time a U-boat is found, it places one more jigsaw piece in its correct place, giving us a clearer picture of the history of the U-boat wars. This is the true purpose of archaeology.
The link below is to an article reporting on the discovery of tombs from the 26th Dynasty in Egypt.
The link below is to an article reporting on the discovery of previously unknown sections of the Great Wall of China.
The link below is to an article reporting on the discovery of a Hittite palace in Turkey.