You never know what you’ll find when you start digging. Between 2003 and 2012, while excavating Amsterdam’s new subway line along the Amstel river, civil engineers uncovered a wealth of objects. Around 700,000 everyday objects weave a history of the city, each with its own small contribution to daily life. And now, Below the Surface presents 20,000 of the most interesting finds.
The website, available in English and Dutch, presents the full story of the objects and their discovery. It’s possible to explore the findings by date or look at individual object stories to understand the historical context of the finds. From coins, stamps, and buttons to identity cards and mobile phones, it’s incredible to look at the items that survived years of wear in the river.
“The objects paint a multi-faceted picture of daily life in the city of Amsterdam. Every find is a frozen moment in time, connecting the past and the present. The picture they paint of their era is extremely detailed and yet entirely random due to the chance of objects or remains sinking down into the riverbed and being retrieved from there. This is what makes this archaeological collection so fascinating, so poetically breathtaking and abstract at one and the same time.”
The objects are currently on display in the Rokin Station in Amsterdam. The meticulous displays are works of art unto themselves and can be visualized on the website, which also encourages you to mix and match objects to create your own displays.
700,000 ordinary objects were found in Amsterdam’s Amstel River during a subway excavation.
Now a new site catalogs a portion of the collection and allows a look at each object’s history.
Below the Surface: Website