Musical objects found in the Damrak and Rokin Amstel-bed excavations

A treasure trove from the tunnel bores for Amsterdam’s controversial North-South metro line.

17th-century-ish hurdy-gurdy crank.

17th-century-ish hurdy-gurdy crank. Image: BelowTheSurface.

Here’s a nifty documentary by AT5 about the archaeological excavations in the bed of the River Amstel at Rokin and Damrak, on its way to the River IJ where Central Station now stands:

Of the 665,412 objects, the second-smallest category is:

9. Games & Recreation: 2,752 objects (680 reproduced); judging by the number found, marbles (550) and ‘throwing bones’ (381) were the playthings children were most likely to lose, at least in the play area on the Nieuwe Brug where over 300 throwing bones ended up in the water. At Rokin large numbers (345) of miniature toys, such as tin soldiers and children’s crockery (especially plates), were retrieved. Fragments of musical instruments (160) were also found.

Childish tears were probably also shed over most of the 154 musical objects displayed. The horizontal axis of this frequency chart is ordered left to right by the estimated first date of appearance of the object type:

Data subset and links:

I guess the figurines of angels depict musical activity, though it’s not evident to me. The crank is correctly identified as being for a hurdy-gurdy (draaileer) rather than a barrel organ (draaiorgel), but I hope that some day someone will find bits of the non-functional street organ which Johnny Verbeeck made for Dick Maas’s 1988 schlock horror flick, Amsterdamned:

Bonus points if you can identify the bridge.

The song is Wim Sonneveld’s “Amsterdamse grachten”, a favourite from my repertoire:

The Amsterdammers have called their publication project Below The Surface, which is also the name of Danish telly series from last year about an Islamic terrorist attack in the Copenhagen metro:

It is possible to google too little.

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  1. Hya Trev, very interesting. I almost did not fall asleep.

    I’ve been getting 404 erros from your contact form, but I’m off in the week before Christmas and I’ve got a rail pass and no better offers, so I was wondering if we could possibly go out for a night sometime between the 16 and 22 Dec.

    All so public I know but I believe there’s something worse in called farce book.

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