The first houses in what is now known as Amsterdam were actually built on the river Die, not the Amstel, so the city could have been known as Diedam, according to a new book.
The Amstel and its dam only became part of the city as the population expanded and people settled there, writer Bas Kok says in Oerknal aan het IJ (big bang on the IJ), a history of Amsterdam Noord.
According to the book, the first place to be settled was on the banks of the Die, a river which ran northwards through the peat bogs from what is now city hall to Uitdam, 14 kilometres away on the IJsselmeer lake.
Kok reasons that people originally settled on a river with access to open water like the Die rather than swampy ground.
Amsterdam was officially founded in 1175 but experts now think it was well before 1100 and that makes the traditional history of a town built on the Amstel and the IJ impossible, he argues. The stretch of water known as the IJ was then a peat bog crossed by a number of rivers and only became open water after 1170.
‘The history of the city really ought to be rewritten,’ he says in an article in the NRC. ‘Or at least this story should be looked at in an scientific discussion about the city’s origins.’
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