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'Murder Island' in Australia Gives Up Its Dead

Image: 'Murder Island' in Australia Gives Up Its Dead
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By    |   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2017 08:01 AM

"Murder Island" in Australia is giving up its dead as scientists continue to recover more than 100 bodies of people murdered by a gang of mutineers on a ship that wrecked on the then-uninhabited island in the 1600s.

Beacon Island, which was later named Batavia's Graveyard, was the location of Australia's first and largest mass murder after the shipwreck of the Dutch sailing ship the Batavia in 1629, London's Daily Mail reported.

In late 1628, the ship with 316 on board, including families with children, set sail from Texel in the Netherlands to Batavia, known now as Jakarta, Indonesia. Guards were on hand to protect the spices and silver cargo, but there was a mutiny afoot with plans to turn the vessel into a pirate ship, the Daily Mail said.

On June 4, 1629, the Batavia hit Morning Reef, 37 miles from the Western Australia coast. Survivors were able swim to Beacon Island but awaited a terrible fate.

In what researchers said resembled the novel "Lord of the Flies," a group of mutineers banded together to take control and later murder many of the survivors, the Daily Mail said.

As recounted in a story that aired on "60 Minutes Australia" on Sunday, archaeologists from Australia and the Netherlands have started to dig up the skeletons of victims while looking for new clues as to who lived and died on the island. The news magazine said scientists do not know just how many people were buried and could still be found after nearly 400 years.

"I think it's interesting that the burials over here were all facing the other direction," Al Patterson told "60 Minutes Australia," according to News.com. "We are clearly in a graveyard, but they have all been buried in different ways."

Physical anthropologist Dan Franklin said, though, that the researchers benefitted from the island's alkaline soil, which favors bone preservation, "60 Minutes" noted.

"The one thing from this skeleton is it is a male individual," Franklin told "60 Minutes." "The bones are very robust. There's a lot of markings that indicate quite strong muscles."

Researchers told "60 Minutes" that the mutineers involved in the mass murder were eventually hung in the gallows, per News.com.

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"Murder Island" in Australia is giving up its dead as scientists continue to recover more than 100 bodies of people murdered by a gang of mutineers on a ship that wrecked on the then-uninhabited island in the 1600s.
murder island, australia, gives up, dead
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2017-01-15
Wednesday, 15 Nov 2017 08:01 AM
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