When the Shore becomes the Sea: New maritime archaeological insights on the dynamic development of the northeastern Zuyder Zee region (AD 1100 – 1400), the Netherlands

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

4462 Downloads (Pure)


For centuries, the Dutch landscape and her inhabitants have been connected to the water, sometimes lovingly, sometimes full of fear and often with awe. This is also reflected in the theme of this doctoral research: late medieval storm surges of the Zuiderzee on the one hand caused the loss of land and settlements in the heart of the Netherlands, while on the other hand these floods created new maritime trade routes that would eventually bring great wealth.

The current research focuses more specifically on reconstructing (the development of) the landscape and habitation in the northeastern part of the Zuiderzee (the current Noordoostpolder) between approximately 1100 and 1400 AD. For the realization of the reconstruction, archaeological, geological, (landscape)historical and historical-geographic datasets were used, combined and compared in a mainly digital spatial environment.

The research shows that in less than 500 years the research area transformed from unexplored and uninhabited peat areas with lakes into the open sea, removing virtually all remnants of land reclamation, cultivation and habitation. These landscape developments were based on both natural and cultural factors: the storms are a natural factor, whereas the resulting floods were the result of human intervention in the landscape (reclamation and cultivation of land caused compaction and dehydration of the peat). The late medieval archaeological remains (mainly pottery, bricks, animal bone material) in the Noordoostpolder region are in fact the last remnants of this highly dynamic region in which farmers, merchants, lords and eventually also fishermen learned to live and deal with water.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Holk, van, André, Supervisor
  • Raemaekers, Daan, Supervisor
  • Spek, M., Supervisor, External person
  • Cohen, K.M., Co-supervisor, External person
Award date29-Oct-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Cite this