The project about the maritime history of the Java Sea, in which various scholars from Indonesia and the Netherlands have been participating since about 1996, bears the title ‘The Java Sea Region in an Age of Transition, 1870–1970’. From the beginning of the project there has been discussion about the time-span to be covered by the project, especially about the terminal year. Some people feared that the availability of sources would limit the prospects of fruitful research. On the basis of this, it was even proposed to stop at 1945, the date of Indonesia's independence. However, in the end most of the scholars involved agreed that it would be worthwhile to continue to roughly 1970, because then it would be possible to include the first years of the Orde Baru regime and pinpoint its effects on the rehabilitation of ports. Moreover, 1970 was also convenient for the simple reason that it was one hundred years after the year, taken as the starting point, namely 1870. The year 1870 as a point of departure was never the subject of any discussion. Because of the liberalization of the economy, namely the general shift from exploitation by the colonial state to exploitation by private enterprise and the alleged beginning of the so-called Age of Modern Imperialism, which tied the corners of the Archipelago closer together, it was simply accepted. Within the confines of the maritime sector, 1870 was assumed to symbolize the change from wind energy to steam power and a beginning of the improvement of ports. Confidently, the opening up of the Suez Canal in 1869 heralded an intensification of contacts between the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies.