Four submerged villages found in Noordoostpolder
Maritime archaeologist Yftinus van Popta of the University of Groningen discovered four submerged villages in the northeastern part of the Zuiderzee area. His research shows that the first inhabitants lived in the area in the 10th and 11th centuries, when they started clearing and preparing the land for agriculture. Van Popta will get his doctorate for this research on Thursday, Omroep Flevoland reports.
For a long time, it was thought that Urk and Schokland were the only two settlements in the Noordsoostpolder in the late Middle Ages. Archaeological finds in the area were often attributed to items that fell from ships. But Van Popta did not believe that. "Those things ended up there between 1100 and 1300 AD. The oldest ships were there between 1250 and 1300 AD," he said to the broadcaster.
Van Popta made a reconstruction of what he believed the area looked like in the past by combining archaeological finds, soil profiles, historical maps, elevation maps, and satellite images in a spatial computer program. He learned that the archaeological material in the places where he suspected villages used to be consisted mainly of bones, bricks and pottery. "Bricks are the remains of houses, bones come from the meat they ate, and the pottery they cooked with," he said.
That was reason for him to do some digging on one of the sites, which led him to the discovery of four drowned villages - Marcnesse, Nagele, Fenehuysen I and Fenehuysen II.
Van Popta expects that his work will be the start of many follow-up studies. "We actually made sure that no more digging is allowed in the area. Farmers are still allowed to plow up to 30 centimeters deep, but before they can put up a new barn, for example, the have to do research. Next year I want to see if we can do more targeted research into the drowned villages."
The maritime archaeologist is pleased with the outcome of his research. "We have discovered a new part of the Netherlands and made it visible, where real people used to live. I was convinced, but then you still have to prove that it is so. It is great that we did not work for five years in vain," Van Popta said to the broadcaster.