When the museum was extended in 2015, the foundations of the building on the corner, consisting of a canal-side house and two alley dwellings, were also restored. During this renovation work, the Bureau Monumenten & Archeologie (Monuments & Archaeology Bureau, BMA) discovered a large cesspit underneath one of the alley dwellings.
A cesspit is a deep pit in the ground that used to serve as a toilet and refuse container. This one was filled with leftover food and utensils made from ceramic and glass. These discoveries date from the period around 1650-1800 and paint a vivid picture of the daily life of the residents and users of this building in the 18th century. The artefacts found include Delftware, glass work and Chinese porcelain that came to Amsterdam via the Dutch East India Company.
The Mom Room
Four chutes served to fill the cesspit with excrement and the household waste produced by the residents of the canal-side house and the two alley dwellings. The unique discoveries found mostly originate from the period during which the Van der Meulen family rented the house and operated a public house selling beer, under the same roof as the church. They sold various types of beer, also known as ‘mom’ in Dutch, hence the name of the room. Despite this, many more wine glasses (hundreds of goblets) were found in the cesspit than tankards. Items discovered in the cesspit are displayed in the Mom Room.
How a cesspit worked
A specially-made animated film shows how this kind of cesspit used to work.