Irmela HERZOG | Vincent MOM
(The Rhineland Commission for Archaeological Monuments and Sites, Bonn, Germany | The Netherlands)

Keywords: Curaçao, forts, historical sources, aerial photographs, landscape analysis

The Caribbean island Curaçao has about twenty bays and natural harbours that allowed landing of smugglers or enemy boats. In the late 18th century, the defence system of the island mainly consisted of forts located close to these places. The aim of the project to be presented is the collection and analysis of all data on possible points of attack or landing smuggler boats as well as data on the location and size of the Dutch forts on the island in the late 18th century. The research relies on historical documents listing and describing the forts with their facilities and on historical maps showing some of the forts as well as the landing places, the latter sometimes with classifications like “for barks”. The remnants of some of these forts can be visited today, but most of the forts disappeared from the modern maps. For the majority of the forts listed in the historical documents, only the corresponding bay to be defended by the fort is known. These bays are readily identified on modern maps or their rough location can be derived from their sequence in a list sorted from south to north. But where were the forts located with respect to the corresponding bay? The approximate location for only one of the disappeared forts could be reconstructed based on old maps. The freely available (aerial) photographs in some cases allowed the detection of possible fort remains. These results are supplemented by methods known from landscape archaeology for identifying suitable fort locations.