Building Amsterdam’s North-South metro line was a significant challenge, yet it brought about unexpected surprises. Archeologists unearthed a wide variety of ancient objects. The excavations in the Amstel yielded a large number of finds, some 700,000 in all: a vast array of objects, some broken, some whole, all jumbled together. Damrak and Rokin stations proved to be extremely rich sites on account of the waste that had been dumped in the river for centuries and the objects accidentally lost in the water.
At Rokin Station, approximately 9,500 archaeological finds are now on display in two permanent display cases. Objects on display are situated between the escalators leading to the platforms at the south and north entrances. Together with the platform walls, the display cases are part of the Art Plan for this station.
The sheer mass of material we unearthed during the construction of the North-South line was extraordinary.Peter Kranendonk, senior archaeologist
As the Dutch site Below The Surface notes, works of art were incorporated into the architecture of the stations along the North – South line. Each station had its own theme and a different artist was selected for the art infill for each station. Both Amsterdam and international artists were represented with different disciplines.
The art commission for Rokin station was awarded to the French/English duo Grégory Gicquel & Daniel Dewar at the end of 2012. They built a monumental mosaic on the platform walls from various types of stone with 33 enlarged images of contemporary objects, derived from archaeological objects. They collaborated on the design of the display cases, which was carried out by the Monuments and Archaeology (MenA) project team. Rokin station provides a dialogue between art and archaeology on the theme of the city.
“The sheer mass of material we unearthed during the construction of the North-South line was extraordinary,” Peter Kranendonk, one of two senior archaeologists leading the excavations during the metro project, told CNN. “The construction gave us a unique opportunity to excavate under the city up to a depth of 30 meters.”
The showcase near the north entrance is 12 m long and 3.34 wide and the one on the south side is 14 m long and 3.59 wide. Both showcases taper down to 2.06 m. The intention was to fill these showcases completely with a large amount of finds. The collaboration with Dewar and Gicquel led to a final design in late 2012 that assumed a flat base. The display cases thereby follow the slope of the escalator (a 30-degree inclination). The presentation has a lead time of thirty years. Only finds of durable, particularly non-organic materials were selected, including pottery, glass, metal and bone.
The finds were mounted on 26 mm thick, acid-free plywood panels, which were painted in Sikkens ON.00.55 and varnished. The panels have a basic size of 1.20 m x 0.80 m. Due to the tapered shape of the display cases, the outer panels are beveled on the long outer side. In some cases, these panels are so narrow that they are joined together with the adjacent panel to form a whole. In total, the north display case contains 36 panels and the south display case contains 46 panels.