Four sunken villages discovered in Zuiderzee

Four submerged settlements from the Middle Ages have been discovered in the northeast of the Netherlands.

Urk and Schokland, two settlements in the Zuiderzee area, have long been thought to have been the only villages in the region that existed back in the middle ages. Now though, maritime archaeologist Yftinus van Popta of the University of Gronigen has discovered four more, reports Omroep Nederland.

Van Popta has been conducting research in the area for five years, following a hunch. Archaeologists had long suspected that the settlements existed but didn’t know their exact location. He’ll now pursue his doctorate for further research.

Archaeological finds

Archaeological materials have been turning up in the area for many years and were believed to have come from ships. But the discovery of the villages, Marcnesse, Nagele, Fenehuysen I, Fenehuysen II, can finally prove otherwise.

Van Popta never believed the theory anyway. “Those things ended up there between 1100 and 1300 AD. The oldest ships were there between 1250 and 1300 AD,” he says.

Van Popta is pleased with his findings. “We have discovered a new part of the Netherlands and made it visible, where real people have lived. I was convinced, but then you still have to prove that it is. It is very nice that you did not work for five years in vain.”

Bones, bricks, and pottery

The archaeologist combined soil profiles, historical maps, satellite images and archaeological finds to create a replica of how the area would have looked in the past.

He discovered the old villages were mostly made up of bones, bricks, and pottery. “Bricks are the remains of houses, bones come from the flesh that they ate, and the pottery they cooked with.”

The pottery found likely belonged to the first inhabitants in the area during the tenth and eleventh century.

Exploration to come

With this revelation, further research is anticipated. “We have actually made sure that no more digging is allowed in the area…Next year I want to see if we can do more targeted research into the drowned villages.”

Are you surprised by these newly discovered villages? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Janwillemvanaalst/Wikimeda Commons/CC3.0 

Brin Andrews
Brin is an avid ice cream eater from the US, calling Amsterdam home since early 2019. As a lover of mountains, life below sea level has been a bit of an adjustment, but she manages to stay afloat with long runs, wine, and frequent travel. Incidentally, these are a few of her favourite topics to write about.


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