In the autumn of 2018, the remains of an old quay wall were found during excavations along Zakstraat in Mechelen. Today you can discover the story of those excavations at ErfgoedApp .
Dijle is alive
The story begins with an excavation in Zakstraat. New flats were to be built there, and before construction could begin, archaeological research was to take place. As expected, the quay walls of the Melaan canal, which was filled in during the 19th century, came to the surface. The age of this wall, dating from the 13th or 14th century, was remarkable. Remnants of an older wooden shoring were also found. Here, you can read the extensive story of the excavations and view some photos.
It was then decided to incorporate the quay wall into the planned buildings as part of the 'Dijle lives' project. Other issues the project is working on are upgrading existing quay walls and opening up old streams - in cooperation with architects, developers and the residents.
Demonstration moment on Heritage Day
The research resulted in the Heritage Day activity: 'Dijle lives! About the Mechelen vliets past and present'. This was a collaboration between the Mechelen Archaeological Service, TSM, the Flemish Waterway, Mechelen Klimaatneutraal and the Gidsenbond. An exhibition was set up on the street where the excavation took place and people could get explanations through a lecture and a guided tour. There was also a bricklaying workshop.
To a 3D model
During the preparations for Erfgoeddag, the idea arose to make a 3D reconstruction. During the excavations, 3D scans had been made of the quay wall. From these, they could make a 3D model which they then placed in a reconstruction of the Vliet based on old 19th century maps. It was important that the reconstruction of the stream remained as abstract as possible; after all, it was all about the quay wall that was found. Moreover, it is a lot of work to make a truthful reconstruction. That is why the ErfgoedApp focused on this one location.
Making information accessible
Public participation is very important in archaeology. In general, people have an idea of what archaeologists do, but they are less aware of specific things like excavations 'around the corner'. On the other hand, the Archaeological Service of Mechelen feels that history and archaeology are very much alive locally and regionally. For this very reason, accessibility of information is crucial. Besides information boards at excavations and social media, they are always looking for new ways to reach people. The Erfgoedapp seemed a suitable channel because of the app's accessibility, ease of use and distribution in Flanders. Also the functionality, the ease of use for the content creatorsand the possibilities of the app around new media and AR applications played a part in the choice of ErfgoedApp.
In addition, archaeology remains dependent on the visual, because many subjects are no longer there, or are located under the ground. Imagination is important and if you can help the visitor as much as possible, you will also be more successful in getting your story across.