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Diaspora and identity

an integrated archaeological and historical investigation into material life, ethnicity, and diet in the district of Vlooienburg, Amsterdam (AD 1600-1800).

NWO Humanities open competition funded project.

Rescue excavations that were undertaken prior to the construction of the Amsterdam Stopera in 1980-81 examined two blocks of the Vlooienburg alongside the river Amstel. The scale of the excavations was unprecedented and allowed a significant proportion of an historic residential quarter of Amsterdam to be exposed and systematically excavated for the first time. A total of 150 houses and 106 cesspits were documented.

the City of Amsterdam, Office for Monuments and Archaeology

Research targets

The current project has been motivated by a desire to bring this body of material to publication, to develop an integrated archaeological methodology that enables personal possessions, tableware and food waste recovered from cesspit deposits to be linked to historically-documented households.

The project seeks to refine archaeological understandings of the material expressions of ethnicity, status, gender, and religious beliefs in relation to the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish inhabitants and other residents of the Vlooienburg. The project will also, significantly, enhance contemporary public understandings of the multi-ethnic roots of Amsterdam. 

In this project two PhD's are involved, one who wil explore the materiality of everyday daily life and work in Vlooienburg, the other will explore the diet, food preparation, and consumption of animal products. A post doc research focuses on the material culture and ethnicity in Amsterdam and The Netherlands.

the City of Amsterdam, Office for Monuments and Archaeology


The project is delivered by means  of a three-way public private partnership between the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the City of Amsterdam, Office for Monuments and Archaeology (MenA), and the Jewish Historical Museum (JHM).

More information

The NWO project is directed by Professor James Symonds, with the assistance of Professor Jerzy Gawronski.

prof. dr. J. (James) Symonds

ACASA Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology

the City of Amsterdam, Office for Monuments and Archaeology