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Bark shield
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THIS bark sHIeld is a poignant object that was witness to the first meeting between native Australians and Captain Cook and his crew at Botany Bay, near what is today the city of Sydney in Australia.

The shield has been identified, reasonably convincingly, as having been collected in 1770 on Captain Cook’s first voyage in HMS Endeavour (1768-71). It is the only Australian artefact in the Museum from the voyages.

When Cook’s landing party came ashore at Botany Bay, it was opposed by two men of the Eora tribe. Cook and his officers fired small shot at the men’s legs and one man ran and retrieved a shield from his camp for protection. The landing party forced their way on shore and the men retreated, leaving the shield behind. Records made at the time strongly support that this is the shield dropped at this first encounter.

Bark shield

Made in New South Wales, Australia, before ad 1770
Almost certainly collected on the first voyage of Captain James Cook
L.97 cm

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