The history of Utrecht begins at least 8,000 years earlier than was previously thought, local broadcaster RTV Utrecht reported this week.
The discovery was made when archaeologists were digging at the site of the Prinses Máxima Centrum for children with cancer ahead of its expansion.
The dig yielded traces of human habitation and objects from the early Stone Age, with some indications that Utrecht started as far back as 11,000 BC.
‘There have been prehistoric finds in Leidsche Rijn and Hoograven, particularly from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. But this discovery means the history of Utrecht started 8,000 years earlier than the history books tell us,’ Utrecht alderman Kees Geldof told the broadcaster.
Not only were older indications of a human presence found at the site but the dig also showed evidence that the site had been inhabited without interruption throughout the Stone Age.
The early Utrechtenaren ‘dug holes and used wooden poles which when rotted away left black marks which can still be seen,’ archaeologist Linda Dielemans told the broadcaster.
But Dielemans and her colleagues also found a number of objects, which will be officially unveiled on Wednesday, such as shards from the Bronze Age and the Neolithic, flint from the Mesolithic used by hunter-gatherers as well as wooden objects from the river, including a little statuette-like object with a face.
‘It is very special that these objects should be found in a place where ill children will be cared for,’ Diana Monissen, chairwoman of the cancer centre board, told the broadcaster. ‘Maybe we can use them to organise something for the children. Taking a trip to the past would be something nice for them to do.’