I’ve written previously about the possible Portuguese landing on the coast of Northern Australia during the age of European discovery.
The initial evidence was fairly circumstantial, but at the same time there were reports that a cannon of possibly Portuguese origin being found. Lead associated with that cannon has now been analyzed, and it looks as if the cannon originates from the Iberian peninsula.
Initially the cannon was thought to be a copy made by Macassan trepang traders, rather than of European manufacture.
Of course, the most conservative theory would be that the Macassan traders acquired the cannon one way or another, and certainly evidence suggesting that it has only been in the water since 1750 or thereabouts, would tend to support the theory that its deposit in waters of Darwin is connected with Macassan rather than Spanish or Portuguese activity.
However I’d guess the jury is still out …
As it happens, my bedtime reading at the moment is Alfred Russell Wallace’s Malay Archipelago, which to my shame I’ve never read. Why I don’t know, it’s well written, literate and quietly amusing.
Last night, by pure coincidence I got to the passage on gun making on Lombok where he describes how gun barrels are bored for flintlock muskets, and more importantly, how the locks of the flintlocks are recycled from older damaged European flintlocks.
From photographs, the Darwin gun looks to be a fairly lightweight small bore weapon, and consequently one which could have been easily copied or made by a local gunsmith. If gunsmiths were in the habit of remaking or recycling components from older damaged guns, this could well explain why lead from the Iberian peninsula has ended up in a Macassan gun
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