Under Amsterdam
June 27, 2018 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Amsterdam drained a canal and put everything they found online, piece by piece, chronologically, and you can see it all, from guns to

the earliest seashells to a Flippo disc. You could also see it in the subway. So many spoons! And keys! And pipes!
posted by mygothlaundry (69 comments total) 134 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, WOW. Came for buckles and tile, was not disappointed. Thanks, mygothlaundry!
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:58 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for whoever lost their dentures
posted by thecjm at 7:17 PM on June 27


This is great design, great content, great everything. Cool find, mygothlaundry!
posted by minervous at 7:32 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


Wow, this is so much fun. I love giant organized collections.
posted by moonmilk at 7:33 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


So, that’s where that thing went!
posted by Thorzdad at 7:33 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


For that radiant smile, brush with radioactive thorium from a lead tube.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:44 PM on June 27 [8 favorites]




That... is the most soothing thing. Also, what’s with the scissors? How did so many people lose scissors?
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:46 PM on June 27


This is really interesting! I love the design of the site as well as the contents.
posted by the thought-fox at 8:27 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


I think the scissors go along with the thimbles and bodkins and spindle whorls... I like to imagine there were wild rebellious women who just had enough of that eternal thankless chore of spinning and mending and making clothes, and just hurled their tools out into the drink with a few choice words. But it was more likely they were just taking advantage of bright daylight to do their chores, sitting out by the canal, and dropped them in accidentally.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 8:31 PM on June 27 [19 favorites]


I don't have words to express how amazingly cool this is.

I want to change careers into a field where I am locating, documenting, and preserving artifacts and human stories. If someone wants to mentor me through this process, MeMail me. I am not joking. In my opinion this is absolutely fascinating work.
posted by delight at 8:33 PM on June 27 [14 favorites]


This is fascinating! And beautifully set out as a bonus. I've found a lot of the same sort of things (especially clay pipes and plates) on the Thames foreshore, but most were in tiny bits, because of having been dropped into a large tidal river. It's lovely to see this sort of thing intact, and with some sort of chronological layering.

There's an awful lot in this, both literally and metaphorically. Lots of traces of international trade (the Japanese soy bottle, all the bits of blue-and-white china, the Chinese incense burner) and of a very well-off, leisured society (golf clubs!, mineral and wine bottles). Not to mention the personal stories that you can make up for some of it; who owned all those cats and dogs, was some of this stuff dropped into the river/canal after a crime (cards, the remains of a gun)?
posted by Fuchsoid at 8:39 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


> Also, what’s with the scissors? How did so many people lose scissors?

Same question, but with caltrops. What's up with that?
posted by komara at 8:45 PM on June 27


Lice combs until 1850; wonder what happened to the little lousies after that?
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:53 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


This is so cool.

Tons of boat hooks. Which kind of makes sense, when you think about it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:59 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


Amazing. The amount of expertise from a huge number of disciplines. How many people contributed to this?
posted by dilaudid at 9:18 PM on June 27


Ah, there’s my hash pipe.

It was the Bush I era. I wasn’t gonna fly back with it, though it did serve me well that week.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:24 PM on June 27 [7 favorites]


Want to give cred for the design of this site, it’s minimal and spectacular, even on phones. Well done everyone.
posted by q*ben at 9:50 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Pretty ring. Some burgher must have been annoyed to see that one slide overboard.
posted by tavella at 9:57 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


All those ID's and credit cards!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:08 PM on June 27


Aww, the API doesn't seem intended to be public. I would have made plugins for all my favorite Roguelike games. (Though supposedly a .csv file of the data without the images will be available soon, but it probably will be a long time before I learn to create plugins for all my favorite Roguelikes. Maybe it can be integrated with DF somehow.)

also

MetaFilter: So many spoons
posted by XMLicious at 10:25 PM on June 27


Same question, but with caltrops. What's up with that?

These are part of the (in)famous Amsterdam House Rules, where a successful save of at least +5 above the target number allows you to kick the caltrops out of the way. Since the streets by the canals are so narrow, thieves were effectively bottlenecking their escape routes. This allowed a scout-type to rush through the caltrops, perform the save and kick them out of the way for other characters to follow through safely.
posted by curious nu at 10:51 PM on June 27 [5 favorites]


Ha, what are these little lead hats for, nipples or something?

Oh my god, they are. And it looks like one has teeth marks.
posted by doctorfrog at 11:01 PM on June 27 [5 favorites]


Pharmaceutical grade sativa is a helluva drug.
posted by MidStream at 11:02 PM on June 27


Ooooh I love this so much! Especially enjoyed the evolution of detritus over time, from old car and telephone parts to hash pipes.

Our home was built in 1873 and is an endless source of such surprises. A few years back we overhauled the furnace, and ductwork revealed a mother lode of coins (clearly from small children, fascinated by cast iron grates) as well as mysterious photographs and a prison ring. The yard regularly yields coins, broken glassware and washboards, buttons, cutlery and the occasional key.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:49 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


I love it. Something about the design of this site makes these items look like treasures picked up in Uncharted.

I wonder how many of these things were hurled into the canal because they were used in connection with, or were somehow proof of, a crime.
posted by heatvision at 3:06 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Did they find my dignity?
posted by arcticseal at 3:15 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I am delighted by the 500-800 year old dice
posted by threecheesetrees at 3:30 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Lice combs until 1850; wonder what happened to the little lousies after that?
Lice combs are still the preferred method in India and I swear the lice combs you can buy there today look pretty much identical to the ones from 1500. You can get plastic ones but many people prefer the wooden ones. Amazing!
posted by peacheater at 3:41 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


This is cool in all sorts of ways. I wonder what kinds of games those dice were for?
posted by Harald74 at 3:46 AM on June 28


MY PHONE there it is I've been searching for twenty years verdomme!
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:08 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


fantastic, thank you for sharing!!
posted by 15L06 at 4:10 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


They only found the one tombstone, but it's a damned spooky one. Is this an unusual design for the region and period, or do all Dutch tombstones from the 1600's look like the person's soul is trapped inside the rock?
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:44 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


So. Many. Pipes.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:51 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I, for one, look forward to Katamari Damacy: the Canals of Amsterdam.
posted by duffell at 5:00 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


Oh my god how did I miss the lice combs? they are identical to the plastic ones that come with the shampoo - it’s been years since I had to deal with that but just looking at them is making my head itch.

The pipes! Why are there so many pipes? @TideLineArt on twitter - highly recommend, more riverbed artifacts - finds tons of them in the Thames as well. It’s like a clay pipe had no more value than a cigarette butt; maybe they were single use? Or dropping them in the river was the only way to put them out.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:05 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Maybe they were trying to quit smoking.
posted by RobotHero at 6:17 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I bet someone was pissed to have lost this.

So cool to have lots of things suddenly found together, like a lot of clothes hooks or thimbles. And so many clay pipes!

Also the buckles - I wonder if buckles came off pretty easily those days or they're all that remain of the poor drownéd folk? /morbid

Love this. It has such a cool Detectorist find to it (and if you like this, you'll probably like The Detectorists)
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 6:18 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


I always gathered that clay pipes were cheap and semi-disposable: fragile & easily-broken; easily lost but readily replaceable: somewhat like disposable lighters in more recent times. While trying to find a definitive on-line source to back that up, I happened upon an interesting article about Concealed Pipes & Smoking Fairies. Perhaps Amsterdam was home to a large population of the fair folk.
posted by misteraitch at 6:43 AM on June 28


Also, what’s with the scissors? How did so many people lose scissors?

And spoons. Whenever a midden is excavated they find spoons. I have never thrown a spoon in the trash in my life. Nor have I ever accidentally flung a spoon into the sea or a canal.
posted by Stonkle at 7:02 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Clay pipes were definitely considered semi-disposable. The stems would break off in pieces, becoming shorter and shorter until the pipe was pretty much useless.

They did a dig of the foundation of a colonial era bar found on my university campus, and among the most frequent finds were clay pipes and stems, and TEETH - because back then, you didn't go to a dentist with a toothache or impacted molar, you just went and got trashed and had somebody yank it out with pliers...
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:15 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I went to college at the site of an early colonial North American settlement and clay pipestems were only slightly less common than discarded oyster shells. Absolutely everywhere.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:27 AM on June 28


Anyone know what the -119000 in the lower right hand corner of the gallery page means?

Also can someone provide more context for this strange little Metafilter front page facsimile noted by moonmilk?
posted by Taft at 8:04 AM on June 28


The timeline goes down to 119,000 BC with various shells and other remnants.
posted by Think_Long at 8:17 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I only made it back to 1975 before my ancient iPad crapped out but what is up with all the toothbrushes? Are people cleaning their teeth with canal water??
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:49 AM on June 28


So that's where my old Nokia went.
posted by terrapin at 9:51 AM on June 28


This pair of coins turned into pendants from the 1700s is absolutely lovely. Can anyone tell me if there's a specific religious significance to the letter ה‬? Or is it more likely to be something like someone's initial?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:04 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Answered my own question on wikipedia, that'd be Hashem. This is what I get for not looking it up first.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:06 AM on June 28


Taft: when you are looking at the page for an individual object, you can click the button at lower left to "Add to your display". You can add multiple objects, and your display becomes a little collage that you can rearrange however you like, such as into the form of a metafilter page, and then create a link to share it!
posted by moonmilk at 10:16 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Is this an unusual design for the region and period, or do all Dutch tombstones from the 1600's look like the person's soul is trapped inside the rock?

No, this one’s fairly typical, though heavily eroded. It’s not the kind of tombstone you’d find in a graveyard btw - this one likely covered a grave *inside* a church.
(Like these for example)
posted by Sourisnoire at 11:57 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


moonmilk: I was not smart this morning and missed that there is a collage art tool. You had me thinking your piece was a recovered object from the canal, very mysterious to a groggy morning me.
posted by Taft at 2:58 PM on June 28


The tombstones in the old Dutch cemeteries in New York (like the one in Sleepy Hollow) have some pretty rad designs. I can't find the interesting links I used to have on the subject, but I'll post them if I do.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:32 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


As a tourist I've been inconvenienced by this Metro construction; fascinating to see the project from this different perspective.
posted by Rash at 4:57 PM on June 28


Ah so that's where I left that bilateral retouched blade, back in the mid-Holocene. Was wondering where that got off to. Haven't gotten a good shave from a rock since then.
posted by not_on_display at 6:40 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


This is like what's under my car seats, but with more guns.
posted by MtDewd at 6:45 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: like what's under my car seats, but with more guns.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:24 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


This is great! I wish they'd give more detailed maps of the site, but overall it's super cool.

Pipe stems are really useful in archaeological sites because they're a pretty reliable date marker. As manufacturing techniques were refined over time, it was possible to make pipes with smaller and smaller diameters without them being too fragile to use (here's an example). Because historical archaeology covers a relatively small time period, it is important to get the date as accurate as possible, sometimes within a couple decades or less, so pipe stems are always a really useful find.

Actually, pipes in general are really useful, because they can tell you a lot about the people who visited that site. Some pipe bowls were left plain, but it was not uncommon for people to have pipes with some sort of design denoting membership in some ethnic, military, or other kind of group. They can tell you about class: typically, someone would use their pipe until the stem broke, but you'll often see pipes with soot on the outside of the broken edge, implying that the pipe was still used after the stem broke. Or, they might have been a worker, who would sometimes intentionally snap the end off of their pipes so they could hold them in their teeth while they worked.

Also, that gravestone has what looks like a late version of a death's head on it! I don't know enough about the religious history of Amsterdam, but death's heads were very common on Protestant graves in the 17th century into the 18th century.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:07 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


The tombstones in the old Dutch cemeteries in New York (like the one in Sleepy Hollow) have some pretty rad designs. I can't find the interesting links I used to have on the subject, but I'll post them if I do

This isn't what I was thinking of, but here, at least, are some cool images from the Farber Collection of some stones from the cemetery by the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:33 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


With so many pipes, I’m surprised there weren’t more lighters
posted by kinnakeet at 3:40 AM on June 29


I was recently at The Prospect of Whitby (one of the oldest if not the oldest pubs in London) and out back there is not only a great view of the Thames, but the original gallows where they used to hang convicts and other such criminals. A friend who was with me informed me that if you were to go down to the shore by the gallows you can still find remnants of clay pipes. Apparently the hangings drew morbid crowds, mostly men, and pipes in those days were very cheap and almost disposable, which is why there was so many still in existence.

As for the lack of lighters, I presume tabacco pipes are mainly lit by matches and so those would not survive? (Assuming you're not talking about hash pipes)
posted by like_neon at 4:39 AM on June 29


This is mindbogglingly great.
posted by gwint at 6:12 AM on June 29


I love the design of this. I love the content of this. I love darn near everything about it. But I realized the reason I don't find it completely soothing is that I've watched too many police procedurals in my lifetime and listened to too many true crime podcasts recently because everything (but especially weapons and id cards) make me think these are the clues necessary to find a missing person .
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:41 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


This isn't what I was thinking of, but here, at least, are some cool images from the Farber Collection of some stones from the cemetery by the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow.

Yeah!! Those are prime examples of death's-head gravestones, which are some of my favorite things. James Deetz' study of gravestones in New England is one of the most famous hallmarks of historical archaeology. By tracking gravestone designs over time (because gravestones helpfully provide us with dates), Deetz created a timeline of gravestone markings that could be tracked to changes in social and religious attitudes towards death. It's been a while since I studied that stuff, but the gist, as I recall offhand, is that the death's-heads represented an earlier, Calvinistic Protestant view of death that treated it very starkly and grimly. Over time, you can see a general "softening" of attitudes towards death, moving more towards the sentimental view that would come to dominate.

It's also worth mentioning that when he died, James Deetz got one of the best gravestones ever.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:42 AM on June 29 [8 favorites]


I'm gonna have to try to get hold of that Deetz book!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:14 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Yeah, get it! In Small Things Forgotten. It's one of my favorite books ever. It's THE book that got a lot of people started in historical archaeology. I would recommend a copy of the first edition, if you can find it, because it's a little more readable (not that the current edition isn't).

Really, I would recommend it to everyone in this thread, because it helps illustrate how exciting these little found objects can be as clues about the past and the people who lived there.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:21 AM on June 29 [6 favorites]


This is what happens when the same place is live in for thousands of years by thousands of people. Thousands of people with nits, means thousands of nit combs.... The waterlogged conditions means you get fantastic preservation. I don't know Amsterdam, but I work on the Thames in London, and here we basically dumped all out rubbish in the river for 2000 years, and much of it is still there. Sometimes it was deliberate, sometimes things were washed down drains, sometimes they were lost accidentally, I expect it was similar for Amsterdam.

The presentation of these excavations is fantastic and I'm so pleased with how this has gone viral, I've seen it being shared all over the place.

Another site with a fantastic finds and preservation was the Bloomberg development in London, which was on the course of the Walbrook river, a tributary of the Thames, through the heart of Roman London, and on the site of the Temple of Mithras which was first excavated in the 1950's There's a great free e-book about the site.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:13 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


The tombstones from the indoor cemetery of Disney's Haunted Mansion are in that eighteenth-century style that looks so weird to modern eyes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:19 PM on June 30


This is so cool I want to throw all my possessions in a canal!
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:13 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


It was cool to recognize a few carpenter's drill bits. The tapered part that goes into the chuck of the brace has hardly changed changed at all in 500 years. They still manufacture braces to fit them.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:08 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


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