Archaeology from the back garden

14 June 2016

From Maastricht: a bronze appliqué with the head of Silenus, a mythological figure in the retinue of Dionysus. probably made in Italy, AD 100-250From Maastricht: a bronze appliqué with the head of Silenus, a mythological figure in the retinue of Dionysus. probably made in Italy, AD 100-250
From The Hague: a blue delftware tile from c. 1650. Tiles decorated in several colours, with images of birds and flowers, were popular at that time.From The Hague: a blue delftware tile from c. 1650. Tiles decorated in several colours, with images of birds and flowers, were popular at that time.

The display Archaeology from the back garden is a 10-metre-long cabinet, holding the widest possible variety of archaeological finds from more than 120 Dutch municipalities. For each municipality, there is one object. This exceptionally long cabinet is part of the permanent exhibition Archaeology of the Netherlands.

The rich diversity of Dutch archaeology

Archaeological materials have been found in every municipality in the Netherlands – in fields, on building sites, and in city centres, parks, and back gardens. The objects in the drawers range from flint tools to Roman jewellery and pipe bowls from the modern era. Each object tells a unique story about the history of the place where it was found, and together they demonstrate the tremendous diversity of Dutch archaeology. 

From a Spanish cannonball found in Alkmaar to a bronze appliqué from Maastricht 

The richness of Dutch archaeology will become apparent when you open the drawers. For instance, you'll see a Spanish cannonball found in Alkmaar, which dates from the Eighty Years' War (c. 1573). From the island of Texel, there's a lice comb that once belonged to a sailor (from c. 1740), and from The Hague, a blue Delftware tile with an image of a stork, the city bird (from c. 1650). Other highlights include a bronze appliqué (a type of decoration) from Maastricht and a seal stamp from Rotterdam. The appliqué, made between 100 and 250, depicts Silenus, a companion of the Greek god Dionysus. The eighteenth-century seal stamp bears the image of the Roman god Salus, the personification of well-being and prosperity.

To be expanded to a total of 390 municipalities

Archaeology from the back garden is a new component of the permanent exhibition Archaeology of the Netherlands. This cabinet holds the results of an exceptional joint initiative of archaeologists, museums, municipalities, storage facilities, and archives. The participating municipalities include Rotterdam, Maastricht, Alkmaar, Groningen, Utrecht, and Lelystad. In the years ahead we will go on filling the cabinet, until it contains objects from each of the 390 municipalities in the Netherlands, including the Antillean islands of Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius. On the project website (in Dutch, to be launched on 14 June 2016), an online map will show where each object was found.

Participants
Archaeology from the back garden is made possible in part by ADC Archeoprojecten and by contributions from more than 120 Dutch municipalities, regional archaeologists, local and provincial storage facilities, museums, archives, and other organizations. The project is financed by the BNG Culture Fund, the participating municipalities, and the BankGiro Lottery's annual contribution to the museum.