A Dutch cittern from the XVII century

(Collection NISA- Lelystad-The Netherlands)


Research and reconstruction 



Sebastián Núñez & Verónica Estevez


The Netherlands


The shipwreck (Beurtschip ‘B71’)
In august 1980, working in the “Gordiaandreef” in the city of Lelystad, The Netherlands, a team of labourers found a shipwreck. The wreck was 18,85 meter long and 5,15 meter wide.
The ship was lying on its side at an angle of 50 degrees under the mud. Two coins from 1614 and 1619 give us the earliest approximate date of its sinking, (namely 1619).
The wood is conserved with PEG (polyethyleenglycol) in the NISA (Nederlandse Instituut voor Sheeps- en onderwater Archeologie- Lelystad). This was a kind of ferry ship which  served  between Amsterdam and other cities in the north like Kampen or Zwolle. (Dutch name: Beurtschip).
The ship was found almost complete and that make it unique.
Because of the way the ship sank, all the things inside moved to its lower side and were preserved in good condition under the mud. There were found at least five hundred objects and among which were two citterns.

 Shipwreck in the NISA

Drawing of the same kind of ship as found in the book
"Aeloude Scheeps-bouw en Bestier"
Nicolaes Witsens, 1671


The citterns
It is quite unusual to find musical instruments in shipwrecks, especially string instruments. In this case we are referring to the remains of two very well preserved ones, and, as far as we can see, identical four courses Dutch citterns.
They are comparable to those we can see on Dutch paintings of the Golden Age (XVII century). They have, for example, ten strings separated in four courses (two double strung and two triple strung) as we see in many realistic paintings and engravings.
The complete research on the citterns from Lelystad has been published by Kloster MIchaelstein, Blankenburg, Germany in 2004


Johannes Vermeer

The love letter



Johannes Vermeer



Cittern player by Caesar van Everdingen
Rouen, Musee des Beaux-Arts, inv.nr. 907-1-85



The pieces of the two citterns


One of the pegboxes


Pieces of strings still on the pegs


A piece of a soundboard (external view)


Inside view of a soundboard with burned traces


Brass nails


Piece of a fingerboard


Fingerboard end


Drawing of all the pieces found


Reconstruction Drawing


Reconstruction made by SebastiánNúñez and Verónica Estevez