Digging up dirt: archaeology book pulped over author’s behaviour

Some of the objects found during the excavations. Photo: Ge Dubbelman/Hollandse Hoogte.
Some of the objects found during the excavations. Photo: Ge Dubbelman/HH

Amsterdam city council has ordered the destruction of the complete first edition of a book compiled by former city archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski following an investigation into the author’s alleged bullying.

The council did not share the findings of the investigation but did order the 4,000 copies of Onder de Amstel, which was to be presented in December last year, to be pulped at a cost of €150,000, the NRC reported.

The book was commissioned by the city and tells one hundred stories about the capital on the basis of archaeological finds made during the construction of the Noord Zuid metro line.

Gawronski coordinated the project, which includes contributions from at least 30 different people. The book will now be published ‘with less prominent place for Gawronski’, a council spokesman told the paper.

Gawronski led the city’s archaeology department BMA for 15 years and has been credited for bringing it up to ‘European league level’, the Parool said. However, several colleagues told the paper Gawronski’s position had enabled him to establish ‘a reign of terror’.

It wasn’t until 2022 that official complaints against Gawronski were made to the council integrity bureau. The investigation took place in the summer and following that the book presentation was cancelled.

Gawronki refused comment about the accusations saying he thought the complaints had been dealt with, but said he regretted the book had become the subject of personal grievances.

City councillors have said they will question officials about the decision to pulp the books at Wednesday’s council meeting.

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