The Netherlands: Archaeological Specialists Carry Out Investigations in Yangtzehaven


A team of archaeological specialists is carrying out investigations in the Yangtzehaven. They hope to find traces of human habitation there from 12,000 years ago.

The current Yangtzehaven will become the entrance for shipping to Maasvlakte 2. At the end of 2012, the Yangtzehaven will therefore be dug out and deepened to -20 NAP. The bottom of the port will then coincide with the layer on which our ancestors once wandered and hunted in the Stone Age (from around 12,000 years ago). The area from the North Sea right up through current day Rotterdam and beyond was once part of a large river plain with river dunes and lower channels.

The river dunes in particular were ideal, high and dry places to live. Archaeologists often find traces of prehistoric dwellings there.

For the first time, systematic investigation is now being carried out into the former land surface and the possible traces of human habitation. The research is taking place at a depth of around 17 metres below the water surface of the Yangtzehaven. 52 soil drillings to five metres below the port bed now provide the researchers with a cross-section of the ground and drilled soil samples that can be studied in the laboratory.


One major result thus far is that the river dunes are visible in the drill cores. The structure of the ground starts with a thick layer of North Sea bed (sand and shells) with layers of clay and peat underneath. Below the peat is the river dune, recognisable by its dark, coarsely grained sand. That means that parts of the old bed where our ancestors walked in the Stone Age are still intact.

The specialists are going back ‘underwater’ for the follow-up investigation. A small excavation will be made in the Yangtzehaven.

A crane will dig part of the river dune out from under the water. The ground will be sifted on land through large sifting equipment and the contents will be studied.The researchers will thus gain more knowledge about the old seabed that was once land.

They might find concrete evidence of early habitation of this area.The research, commissioned by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, is being carried out by BOOR, Deltares, TNO, PUMA, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (State Agency for Cultural Heritage) and the Archeologisch Diensten Centrum (Archaeological Service Centre).

Source: Maasvlakte, October 07 , 2011