Research in the spotlight

Lost shipwrecks and aircraft

CLUE SchoklandAs a result of all the developments that have taken place over the past century in the polder regions, not only has ‘new’ history been written, but the history of the areas concerned has also unexpectedly come to be examined in greater depth. The land reclamation process and subsequent spatial interventions revealed the existence of prehistoric settlements and lost shipwrecks and aircraft. Here and there, it was also possible to see how the landscape had formed during and after the penultimate Ice Age (the Saalian period: 240,000 to 130,000 years ago). The ‘young’ country was much older than had previously been thought. In addition, the polder landscape made the area’s complex layer structure and very rich past very easy to distinguish.

These developments are depicted from an interdisciplinary perspective in the research programme entitled ‘The Biography of the New Land’, at the heart of which are the history of the former Zuider Zee region and of the twentieth-century polders, and how the cultural heritage of the area can be researched, managed and presented.

Five issues

Historians, earth scientists, economists and public administrators are working together on this research. They are jointly examining five issues, each of which corresponds to a doctoral research project:

1. Flooding disaster in the Zuider Zee region. How did the communities in the Zuider Zee region cope with flooding disasters in the past? How did their experiences vary, based on time and place, and how can such developments and variations be explained? These are the main questions in this first sub-project.

2. Ancestors in the polders. This research project reconstructs a history that encompasses the inhabitants of fishing settlements, polder residents and the new dwellers in urban areas. It focuses on heritage and on the role of religion and emotions in thinking about oneself and other people.

3. The foundations of the new land. This geo-archaeological research project identifies relic landscapes (landscape structures that have evolved through history) and attempts to record the value of their scientific information.

4. Structure of public administration and policy in relation to innovative heritage management. The objective of the fourth sub-project is to generate knowledge about proper organizational structures, arrangements and strategies for the polders in the IJsselmeer area.

5. The regional identity. This sub-project involves research into the development of the heritage of towns and countryside in the IJsselmeer polders and the related economic opportunities.

For more information, please go to: CLUE 
This is a research project of the Cultural Landscape and Urban Environment institute (CLUE)