Bookmark and Share

The past comes to life

Around 30,000 years ago, mammoths, hyenas and many other animal species inhabited the present North Sea seabed. During Maasvlakte 2's construction, we have been finding evidence of this: teeth, tusks, vertebrae, bones and even hyena droppings have appeared out of the sand being used to expand the port. Flint tools have also been found, demonstrating the presence of early man in the area too. Due to this, the project is causing warm interest among palaeontologists and archaeologists.

To the Port of Rotterdam Authority, building for the future means being careful with the past. No important archaeological finds may be lost through Maasvlakte 2's construction. For this reason, archaeological investigation took place in the sea and seabed prior to the work. In this way, knowledge was gained about locations where valuable finds could possibly be made during Maasvlakte 2's construction. The choice that had to be made was between bringing carefully to the surface and leaving alone.


The Port of Rotterdam Authority, contractor PUMA (Maasvlakte Expansion Project Organization) and the RCE (State Agency for Cultural Heritage) made agreements about the way in which archaeological finds should be dealt with during the construction. The contractor informs the Port Authority and RCE within 24 hours of an archaeological find. At the same time, PUMA makes a proposal about how to deal with the find.

The agreements cover two issues: careful means of handling archaeological finds and progress of the construction process. RCE has the role of competent authority in this project, jointly on behalf of the Rotterdam archaeological agency (BOOR) and the province of Zuid-Holland. The Port Authority has made €3 million available for archaeological investigation.
People in academic circles are very enthusiastic about the mammoth bones and other palaeontological finds made in the freshly deposited sand. The sand extraction area off the coast of Zuid-Holland has already been dubbed the Serengeti of the North Sea. In order to ensure all these finds obtain a proper home, the Port Authority has agreed that all palaeontological finds should be gifted to the Rotterdam Natural History Museum.