Deze website maakt gebruik van cookies die noodzakelijk zijn om de website zo goed mogelijk te laten functioneren. Klik op "Akkoord" als je akkoord gaat met het gebruik van cookies, klik op "Aanpassen" voor meer informatie en om zelf te bepalen welke cookies worden geplaatst.
In 1955 motorway A28 was being constructed in Drenthe. During excavations, an old piece of wood was extracted from the peat south of the village of Pesse. The object drew the attention of a passer-by, who decided to have it analysed. To everyone's surprise, it proved to be the oldest known boat in the world.
The canoe is made from a hollowed-out Scots pine log. It is 298 centimetres in length and has a width of 44 centimetres. A stone or antler axe was used to hollow it out. Using C14 dating, also called carbon dating, it has been proven that the canoe must have been built in the period between 8200 and 7600 BCE. That's around 10,000 years ago, in a period we call the Mesolithic or the Middle Stone Age. Carbon dating is a way to determine the age of something or someone based on the quantity of radio-active carbon (C14) that is present in the object.
Preserved in peat
The canoe was preserved so well for all those years because it had sunk into a riverbed with a peat bottom. Peat is a wet, spongy type of soil consisting of plant material, formed by dead plants in bogs. The peat is low in oxygen, which gives it good conservation properties. In addition to objects such as the Pesse Canoe, human remains and animal remains have also been found in the peat.
After it had been extracted from the peat, there were issues with preservation. In order to prevent the canoe from being lost, it was freeze dried. This technique consists of converting the water molecules present in the object into ice crystals, which are then evaporated in very dry air. Micro-organisms will not survive this process, preserving the object for a very long time.
For years there was scepticism about whether the Pesse Canoe had actually been a boat. In order to end the debate, a reconstruction was built and tested in 2001. It turned out that the log could float effortlessly.
The Pesse Canoe can be seen in the Drents Museum.