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The Netherlands in the 10th and 11th century in a European context

In 2023, the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) aims to present a retrospective on the Netherlands in the 10th and 11th century in a European context. Accompanied by a book for a large audience, a short film about this era and an educational programme that includes intergenerational learning and an escape game. The exhibition will be designed as an evocative journey through the Netherlands around the year 1000. It finishes at the Palace of Nimwegen, during a visit of the German Emperor Otto II and his Byzantine spouse Theophano.

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to realise a new and comprehensible image of the period around the year 1000 in the Netherlands, by means of an inventory of archaeological finds, remains of buildings, and objects from the 10th and 11th century, plus a synthesis of research into those, and to communicate this image with a large and varied audience through an exhibition, book, and film.

Why the year 1000?

The 10th and 11th century are an underexposed period of Dutch history, for which archaeology is the main source. In these centuries, the Netherlands become recognizable through large-scale land reclamation and building in stone. Recent excavations have yielded much information on climate change and daily life around the turn of the first millennium. ‘The Netherlands’ do not yet exist at that time, which is why we study the border regions with present-day Belgium (Liège) and Germany (Cologne, Aachen) as well. But the seat of authority was in Paderborn, or even Rome, and there was much travel and trade. Especially in the 11th century, people living in these regions came in contact with a wider world: that century ends with the first crusade to Jerusalem.

Project, team, internship opportunities

Cooperation Rome

For the length of the project, Annemarieke Willemsen has additionally been appointed Museum Fellow of the Royal Netherlands Institute Rome. Part of the research will be conducted there. For instance studying important figures in the exhibition, like Theophano and Sylvester II, Empress and Pope around the year 1000. But pilgrimage from the Netherlands to Rome, apocalyptic thinking, and heresy as well. In the Fall of 2021 we will organise a workshop on ‘The year 1000 in Rome’ at the KNIR.

Plans

Call for info

Raphaël Rijntjes is contacting many archaeology services and archives, museums, and private individuals for the inventory. We would love to hear from people who own or know objects from the time frame 900-1100: r.rijntjes@rmo.nl.

Stay tuned

Facebook: @hetjaar1000
Instagram: @hetjaar1000
Twitter: @amwillemsen1

Mondriaan Fonds

Top photo: Viking drinking horn used as a reliquary, 11th century (Treasury Church or Our Lady, Maastricht)

Egmond Gospels, c.975 (collections Royal Library, The Hague)

Saucepan from Assendelft, c.1000 (collections RMO)

Het jaar 1000 Zwaard Ulfberht

Broadsword inscribed Ulfberht, from the Scheldt river, 1000-1025 (collections RMO)

News

Mei 2021 – In Rome with Otto | Eye to eye with the Emperor of the year 1000 AD! Otto III is depicted on a wellhead in San Bartolomeo on the island in the Tiber. Wonderful 10thC sculpture, looks like ivory carving, but 75 cms high. And it still functions, above a source with healing water: inside are good deep traces of hauling buckets. On the front Christ is shown, on the left St Bartholomew (with knife), on the right a bishop and on the back the crowned and bearded Emperor Otto. To see him, you woud have to lie down outstretched across the altar steps. That is called proskynesis – and is exactly what common people are supposed to do before an Emperor… [AW]

Het jaar 1000 putmond Otto III

April 2021 – Griffin from Istanbul | Looking through the stores to see what the international RMO collections hold from 900-1100. We seem to have a mosaic from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul! A nice large piece showing a “flying griffin” with two tulips in the background, that has been in Leiden since 1744. Its provenance was noted down in 1802 as “Constantinopoli e ruderibus S. Sophiae”, the ruins of the episcopal palace surrounding the proper church/mosque. That’s interesting, because it means it stems from an elite residence. Stylistically it fits with North-Italian mosaics from the 10th-11th century. The griffin is welcome in our exhibition. [AW]

Het jaar 1000 Mozaiek griffioen

February 2021 – Money and Portrait! | Deliberations with Paul Beliën of De Nederlandsche Bank about coins from the 10th and 11th century that we might show in our exhibition. Mainly it’s silver coinage and very small: coins like thumbnails. So we will have to show these with photographic enlargements, or maybe 3D animations. A nice thing: the coins depict people, like Hendrik II, Emperor Conrad II and Bishop Adelbold. There we were, thinking we had almost no portraits of our key players… Moreover, they are shown in the way they wanted to present themselves, with the attributes of their functions. We can work with that! [AW]

Het jaar 1000 Munt

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