Outstanding value

Outstanding value

Thursday, December 9, 2021 it had been exactly fifty years since the ship excavations in Zwammerdam (ZH) started. The excavation of the ships followed the earlier discovery of the headquarters of a Roman fortress in 1968. The site - which would later become Ipse de Bruggen, Hooge Burch estate - was in the spotlight for almost four years from non-stop, because of one spectacular find after another. The man whose name will always be associated with this is Dr. Maarten de Weerd, archaeologist and former excavation leader. De Weerd: “The excavations of the ships were the actual impetus for the large-scale expansion of the conservation capacity of archaeological large wet wood in our country, first in Ketelhaven, later in Lelystad”.

Tom, Yardeni, Maarten en Leonard.JPGPhoto: Tom Hazenberg, Yardeni Vorst, Maarten de Weerd & his son Leonard de Weert, in front of Zwammerdamship 2.

De Weerd: “The Zwammerdam ships are typical inland vessels in terms of construction and thus broaden our knowledge of Roman timber construction technology, which we know well from the ships that sailed the Mediterranean. Only after the excavations it was possible to document the construction method of the Zwammerdam ships in all details, as it is now taking place at the restoration yard in Museum Park Archeon.” Laura Koehler, head of conservation at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, fully endorses this: “As far as I am concerned, the discovery of the Zwammerdam ships marked the start of the development of the method that is still tried and tested to impregnate archaeological wood with Poly Ethylene Glycol (PEG)”

“The discovery in Zwammerdam marked the start of a rich Dutch research tradition into shipbuilding, inland shipping and trade along the Limes,” says Tom Hazenberg. “At the moment, about twenty Roman shipwrecks are known along the Rhine-Limes from Zwammerdam to Utrecht-Leidsche Rijn. These offer extraordinary opportunities for research. They are typical ships of the Lower Germanic Limes as a river border, which served as a vital transport route between the Germanic and Gallic hinterland and the North Sea.”

Do you remember?
Next to the investigation of the ships, there is also the story to be told of the surprising excavations of the six Zwammerdam ships. With the oral history project Do you remember ...? memories of a number of involved professionals were captured on film this year. Of course that of Maarten de Weerd, but also of archaeologists and historians such as Mr. Vlierman, IJzereef, Akveld, Götz, conservation specialists Mr. Weavers and Mrs. Koehler and Mr. Groffen, discoverer of the Zwammerdam 2. Non-professionals also shared their memories and often photos, making it a document for the future. Curious about the memories? Click here.

Zwammerdam 3 nader bekeken.jpg

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