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What did life use to be like in the Waterlooplein neighbourhood? UvA archaeologists investigated this and created 3D reconstructions of what the neighbourhood must have looked like in the past. The result can be seen in the exhibition ‘Waterlooplein: the neighbourhood inside out' at the Jewish Historical Museum from 2 October 2020 through 28 February 2021.

Reconstructie van de kruising van de Lange en Korte Houtstraat, in zuidoostelijke richting naar de Leprozengracht
Reconstruction of the junction between the Lange and Korte Houtstraat, looking southeast towards the Leprozengracht.

The Waterlooplein neighbourhood formed the heart of the former Jewish district in Amsterdam. The exhibition tells stories from four hundred years of this neighbourhood’s history by means of photos, film footage, 3D reconstructions and objects. Who lived there? How and why did the residents come to stay in this neighbourhood? And how did they live their lives?

Answers to these questions were discovered in the 80s of the previous century, below ground, when the site lay fallow because of the construction of the Stopera. The municipal archaeological service dug up two housing blocks containing 100 cesspits, which contained not only food waste but also all sorts of household effects. Further research led to new insights into daily life, the diets and cultural backgrounds of the – predominantly Jewish – occupants of this neighbourhood in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

3D reconstruction of the neighbourhood

Researchers of the NWO project Diaspora and Identity and the 4D Research Lab contributed to this exhibition. Among others, they made a 3D reconstruction of what the islands Vlooienburg (where the Waterlooplein currently is) and Valkenburg (now the Valkenburgerstraat) must once have looked like. It allows visitors of the exhibition to wander through this seventeenth-century neighbourhood on touchscreens. The researchers also reconstructed a Jewish dining room dating to circa 1625.

Vlooienburg 1625
Vlooienburg 1625
Vlooienburg 1680
Vlooienburg 1680
Vlooienburg 1890
Vlooienburg 1890

The exhibition can be seen at the Jewish Historical Museum from 2 October 2020 through 28 February 2021.