Europe

Trace Amsterdam's urban history through centuries-old junk

Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT) August 10, 2018
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Over 700,000 artifacts were excavated from the River Amstel, Amsterdam, during construction of a newly opened subway system. Alexander Ryumin/TASS/Getty Images
Some dated as far back as 120,000 BC were unearthed from the 12-meter-deep riverbed. Courtesy City of Amsterdam, Monuments and Archaeology
Most of the artifacts were found at two central Amsterdam locations, Rokin and Damrak. Courtesy City of Amsterdam, Monuments and Archaeology
Objects found in the river include keys, coins, pieces of clothing, toys, weapons, and even cellphones. Courtesy Harold Strak
Most of the items found are considered junk -- things people intentionally chucked into the river to dispose of it. These dentures are dated between 1970-2005. Courtesy Harold Strak
These lighters from the 19th and 20th centuries show that some things remained the same against the test of time. Courtesy Harold Strak
The Damrak site yielded weapons that affirmed its military history. But toys also indicated it was a public space where kids played. The marble on the left was found in Damrak and dates back some 500 years ago. Courtesy Harold Strak
These shells, found in Rokin, are the oldest finds from the excavation and date back to 120,000 BC. Courtesy Harold Strak
Other finds include Japanese and Chinese porcelain, a piece of a Samurai sword, and this jaw of a crocodile. Although Amsterdam's chief archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski clarifies the jaw was probably from a stuffed crocodile, rather than a live one that swam in the river. Courtesy Harold Strak
There are 20,000 artifacts available to virtually dig up via the archaeological project's website called "Below The Surface". Some of which are also on display at Rokin station. Courtesy City of Amsterdam, Monuments and Archaeology
Photographer Harold Strak took 35,000 images of the artifacts over five years. Aside from the website, the photos are also featured in a 700-page book called "Stuff" designed by Willem Van Zoetendaal. Courtesy Harold Strak