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Emigrating Dutch family took 2nd century pottery along

Well-traveled Amphora back in Eindhoven

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EINDHOVEN - A 2nd century amphora and a drinking vessel discovered when a regional canal was dug in the 1930s, have found their way back from Australia to Eindhoven, courtesy of a Dutch Canadian living in Calgary, Alberta. Johanna Bates-van der Zeijst, a lawyer who specializes as a literary consultant, donated the pieces to the city of Eindhoven and told of the provenance of the pottery since 1930.

Many pieces of pottery and shards from the time the area was occupied by the Romans, were discovered when the Beatrix Canal was dug through Eindhoven and surroundings. The best objects wound up in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Other items however disappeared into private ‘collections’ or were otherwise lost. Part of the hoard was kept by former archivist Mathieu van der Waerden.

When Van der Waerden died in the late 1950s, his widow Til remarried and moved to Melbourne in Australia, taking, among other things, an amphora and two drinking vessels along. In 1978, she gave the items to her visiting sister Jacoba, who lived in Calgary, Alberta. Returning home, Jacoba put the items in her hand luggage. The bag inadvertently was send down an airport conveyer belt in Honolulu, Hawaii where Jacoba made a transfer, before traveling on to San Francisco and Calgary. The 2nd century items indeed became pieces and shards.

Although the largely shattered remains of the pottery were kept in the Calgary family since, they might have been discarded eventually, if it had not been for Johanna Bates’ intervention. Recently, after having read about a new archeological dig in Eindhoven, Bates e-mailed that city’s official archeologist inquiring if they were interested in receiving the well-traveled pottery.

An excited Nico Arts accepted the offer and two days later, the box with the prized material was delivered to him from Calgary. Since then, the amphora and one of the vessels were restored and now are part of the extensive municipal archeological collection. A second drinking vessel remains in Canada, a very unique reminder of the Van der Zeijst’s ties to Eindhoven and of their Dutch roots with a Roman sidebar.