Time Travel at Rokin Station

Make a journey through the history of Amsterdam? That can be done from autumn 2017 at Rokin Station. Those who enter or leave this subway station can’t ignore the huge glass display cases between the escalators. It shows a selection of the 700,000 finds that archaeologists of the Department of Monuments and Archaeology removed from the soil during the construction of the North / South line.

City Archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski (left) and artist Daniel Dewar (right) at work - photo Jorrit 't Hoen
City Archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski (left) and artist Daniel Dewar (right) at work – photo Jorrit ‘t Hoen

Since the mid ‘90s of last century, the archeology department was involved in the construction of the North / South line. This started with a desk study that the anticipated archaeological values on which the route of the subway were mapped. This study then led to Project Archaeology North / South line. After a preliminary field study began in 2005, the intensive archaeological research took place until 2010 at various locations. The two main locations were Damrak and Rokin, because they are located in the former Amstel River which flowed through town on this location. Between these sites they collected 700,000 finds that tell in detail how the people of Amsterdam lived and worked at previous centuries.

A selection of objects - photo Jorrit 't Hoen
A selection of objects – photo Jorrit ‘t Hoen

From 2010, the archaeologists started processing the finds. The objects were cleaned and inventoried and then entered into a database. There are digital models made of the places where the objects were found. And the idea came to town archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski to include the finds in archaeological artwork. In collaboration with artist duo Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel, who also make the another artwork along the platforms of Rokin Station, this idea is translated into an archeological installation.

This will consist of two displays, one 10 meters long and the other one 14 meters long, and both 3.5 meters wide. The bottom of the display cases is on a slope on which one will see about 8,000 objects. The finds have been placed by topic. By organizing them thematically rather than time creates a surprising combinations of ancient objects with contemporary ones. Together they tell from the end of 2017 to the traveling people of Amsterdam or visitors the story of the city.

DAMRAK = An avenue and partially filled in canal at the centre of Amsterdam, running between Amsterdam Central Station in the north and Dam Square in the south.
The street was located on a rak (reach), a straight part of the Amstel river near a dam; hence the name. In the 19th century, a section of it was filled in. Because of the former stock exchange building, the monumental Beurs van Berlage, and several other buildings related to financial activities erected there in the early 20th century, the term ‘Damrak’ has come to be a synonym for the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in the same way ‘Wall Street’ is synonymous with the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

ROKIN = A major street in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Originally it was part of the river Amstel, and was known then as Ruck-in (from ‘inrukken’, which means ‘to withdraw’), as some of the houses on the Amstel had to be shortened to construct the quays there in the 16th century.

The Rokin begins at Muntplein square and ends at Dam Square. In 1936, the part between Spui square and Dam square was filled in. On the remaining part of the water, canal boats are now moored.

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