Archaeological working group “Over de Maas”
When the sand and nature development project “Over de Maas” began in 2010 there was no special archaeological expectation beforehand. Mandatory investigations even spoke of low expectations. Probably without this prior knowledge, there were a lot of detector amateurs and hikers who investigated the ever changing landscape on tangible remains of our history. Among these searchers & hikers were also 2 professional archeologists who happened to meet each other in this area. With their knowledge of the water-related history of this part of the Netherlands where the two main big rivers come together and while trying to keep the findings from this area together, they thought that forming an archaeological working group was best idea.
After extensive consultation with the developer of the area, Nederzand, the establishment of a working group was a fact. The working group consisted of 18 people. They agreed that the findings would be kept together, providing a home for special findings in a project collection and that they would function as an extra eye in the area for the developer.
Since then, the archaeological working group “Over de Maas” has volunteered and enthusiastically engaged in collecting discoveries on land and on the dredger. The workgroup members search the area for finds and traces, look into the work and get in on “suspicious” issues that come up while digging in sand and clay. Since 2015, there is also a virtually permanent occupancy of the dredging installation by members of the working group.
The composition of the working group has changed over the years. Some members of the first hour have left but many enthusiastic newcomers have joined. At present, the working group, now a foundation (being established), consists of 18 members; 2 professionals and 16 amateurs.
The professionals are Nils Kerkhoven and Jelle van Hemert, both working as archaeologists. They provide the necessary professional knowledge and contacts for the no less motivated amateurs: Julian Vendelmans, Joop Burgers, Patrick Jansen, Marcel Jansen, Bert vd Graaf, Dineke van Arkel, Jos van Koolwijk, Bea van Leur, Andor Hemelaar, Peer Witzel, Chris van Leeuwen, Frank van Esch, Jacques Gerards, Roy Veldhoen, Hans Wijnstekers and Sigrid van den Heuvel.
There has been a very special collaboration in all of those years with the developer and all subcontractors in the area. All enthusiasm seems to be infectious and the desire for cooperation is great. In consultation with the engineers, it is always possible to count on excavation work, every day the workgroup members get a lift to and from the sand dredging plant, and on the current dredger facilities have even been created to make life easier for our working group.
The developer has made room for storing the findings and grants the use of a crane or other machine whenever needed. Not only because of the finds but also because of the cooperation, this area with presumably low archaeological expectations, has become a special hopeful place!
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