De Punter Eric Fecken

The Punter is back where Rotterdam originated

Some thirty years ago, archaeologists in Rotterdam made an extraordinary discovery near the library. About ten meters under the ground they found a boat. A so-called punter.

The vessel was found at the construction site of the railway tunnel under the Binnenrotte. Exactly at the site where the dam in the river Rotte used to be. Archaeologists discovered that the small boat was actually used to close the last hole in the dam around 1270. This is where the first inhabitants settled and eventually the city of Rotterdam came into existence. The punter is thus at the origin of Rotterdam as we know it today. After preservation, this special historical object is now on permanent display on the 3rd floor of the Central Library.

Rotterdam owes its existence and its name to the Rotte: Rotte-dam. The dam in the Rotte. The dam of 400 meters lies directly under the current Hoogstraat. To build the dam, not only materials such as clay and reeds were used, but also utensils. Just like the punter. The punter is a spectacular find because it definitively proves that the dam and with it the city dates from around 1270. Researchers were able to deduce this from the wood used to build the small ship.

“The punter is a beautiful object with which we – being the largest and most accessible cultural institution in the city – are extremely happy,” says Theo Kemperman director-administrator of the Rotterdam Library. He continues: “Rotterdam is a city with a special past, whose history is not easy to take in. The punter offers Rotterdammers a unique way to understand this history. We are proud that Rotterdammers can learn about their city in the library through this iconic object.”


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