HMS Pandora archaeological collection



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The Queensland Museum holds over 6,800 artefacts from the wreck of the Royal Navy warship HMS Pandora (1791). Pandora was lost on the Great Barrier Reef in 1791, and its wreck was discovered in 1977.

While artefacts recovered during its discovery and a preliminary survey in 1979 are held, the bulk of the material was recovered during the subsequent nine seasons of archaeological excavation carried out by the Queensland Museum between 1983 and 1999. The collection is legally protected by the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 as historic shipwreck relics. Types of objects including: parts of the ship; furniture and fittings; weapons and accessories; tools and instruments; domestic equipment; clothing and accessories; medical equipment; and ethnographic 'curiosities' are represented in the Pandora collection. The Pacific ethnographic artefacts were collected by Pandora's crew within a five-month period during 1791 and have some specific geographic provenance through the surgeon's journal and captain's log book. Some outstanding items in the collection are:A gold and silver cased pocket watch thought to have belonged to the ship's surgeon, George Hamilton; 10 intricately carved wooden Tongan war clubs; A six pounder cannon and an 18 pounder carronade with the coat of arms of King George III; A French sea service flintlock pistol;A sandstone dripstone used by Pandora's crew to purify drinking water.

The Pandora shipwreck and artefact assemblage is of historic significance because of its direct association with the aftermath of the mutiny on the Bounty - one of the most well known (and romanticised) sea stories in the annals of maritime history. The Pandora collection is significant for its scientific (archaeological) values. It represents a well preserved comprehensive and coherent assemblage from the wreck of an 18th century Royal Navy vessel engaged in the Pacific. The collection has the research potential to elucidate aspects concerning the material culture, nautical technology and organisation of life on board European sailing ships engaged on long inter-ocean voyages during the 18th century as well as aspects of culture contact between 18th century European and Oceanic societies


Archaeology; Conservation Science; Maritime archaeology; Tourism

Maritime history; Shipwrecks

Coverage Spatial

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:43

2011-06-02 17:37