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

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

The municipality of Amsterdam has ordered the destruction of the entire first edition of a book compiled by former city archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski following an investigation into alleged harassment by the author.

The municipality did not share the findings of the investigation, but it did order the 4,000 copies of Under the Amstel, which was to be presented in December last year, to be pulverized for the sum of €150,000, the NRC reported.

The book was commissioned by the city and tells a hundred stories about the capital on based on archaeological finds made during the construction of the North South metro line.

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

Gawronski led the city’s BMA archeology department for 15 years and is credited with bringing it to “European level,” according to Het Parool. However, several colleagues told the newspaper that Gawronski’s stance had enabled him to establish “a reign of terror.”

It was not until 2022 that official complaints against Gawronski were filed with the municipality’s integrity office. The research took place in the summer and the book presentation was canceled after that.

Gawronki declined to comment on the allegations, saying he thought the complaints had been dealt with, but said he regretted that the book had become the subject of personal grievances.

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

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