Lonely Planet Writer

New Amsterdam museum to display archaeological finds from beneath the River Amstel

From bones to phones, a display is set to open at the new Rokin Station in Amsterdam, displaying archaeological finds from the construction of the city’s new North/South metro line.

Artefacts uncovered by Dutch archaeologists
Some of the items found by archaeologists in Amsterdam. Photo by: City of Amsterdam, Monuments and Archaeology

The long-anticipated North/South line is set to open in Amsterdam this summer and with it a handful of new stations. Since the project began in 2002, parts of the city have been excavated to accommodate the new metro line. While digging beneath the surface in the central areas of the Damrak and Rokin, which were formerly parts of the Amstel river, archaeologists unearthed a fascinating collection of objects that precede even the city itself.

Part of the collection uncovered by archaeologists
Some of the artefacts found by Dutch archaeologists in Amsterdam. Photo by: City of Amsterdam, Monuments and Archaeology

Amongst the discoveries were animal bones dating back to 2600BC. Many of the finds span the city’s history which originated in 1170, telling a story of everyday life in Amsterdam with everything from tableware from the 1600s, to mobile phones from the 1990s. When you count both the complete objects and the individual fragments, the total number of archaeological finds comes to a whopping 697,235.

Artefacts excavated during work on the new train line in Amsterdam
Some of the finds will be displayed in cabinets at the new Rokin Station. Photo by: City of Amsterdam, monuments and Archaeology

A selection of the finds (9500 in total) will be on display in two display cases at the new Rokin Station in the centre of Amsterdam. The cases are 14 and 12 metres long and around 3.5 metres wide and will be located between the escalators at both the north and south entrances. You might find yourself riding up and down the escalators a few times to enjoy this ‘free museum’ and ponder who all those items belonged to and what became of them.

Can’t make it to Amsterdam? The complete collection can be browsed on the Below the Surface Website, where finds have been photographed, catalogued and arranged in chronological order.

By Claire Bissell.