Stories archive

    • Joost van den Vondel by J.D. Bles, a drawing from 1843.

    The first Dutch poet laureate

    Vondel was the greatest poet of the Golden Age and one of the greatest poets ever to have written in Dutch. Over the centuries Vondel remained famous, but also controversial.

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    • Detail of the portrait of P.C. Hooft by Michiel van Mierevelt.

    From grain merchant to aristocrat

    When we think of the Golden Age, we think of Hooft: an atypical Dutchman – cultivated, generous tolerant and courteous. His poems are still read and sung today, and his plays are performed regularly.

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    • Detail of the portrait of Petrus Francius, standing in front of the memorial to Michiel de Ruyter in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

    Two big hitters

    Everyone has heard of Michiel de Ruyter, but hardly anyone knows of Petrus Francius, shown here when he was in his forties. Yet the latter was celebrated throughout Europe. Pieter de Frans was a professor at the Athenaeum Illustre, the precursor to the University of Amsterdam.

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    • The old card catalogue of the University Library on Singel in 1956.

    Humble monuments

    The old catalogues of the University Library are preserved with care – and rightly so, because each is a monument to scholarship. They show us what the library looked like at various points in its long history.

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    • Manuscript by Gerardus Vossius. Photo: Monique Kooijmans.

    Founding father of the UvA

    Gerardus Vossius was actually an immigrant: he was born near Heidelberg. The scholarly Vossius died a citizen of Amsterdam, however; and what’s more, he was one of the founding fathers of the UvA.

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    • Troy

    Near East

    Geographically, the Near East extends from the western coasts of Turkey and the Levant to the eastern border of Iran. All its different civilizations, which span millennia, are culturally and historically referred to as 'Near Eastern'. 

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    • Forum Romanum c. 1854

    Roman world

    Rome, the village on the Palatine would develop into the centre of the world.

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    Did the Etruscans come from Asia Minor or did the Etruscan culture developed in Italy? Many distinctly Etruscan features are equally evident.

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    • Black-figure pottery from Athens.

    Attic pottery production

    The black-figure technique was invented in Corinth in about 700 B.C. and adopted by the Athenian workshops in approximately 630 B.C. How were the characteristic black-figure and red-figure vases actually made?

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    • The Parthenon in Athens.

    Greek world

    The Greek world comprises more than modern Greece. Colonies were founded in Sicily, southern Italy and the west coast of modern Turkey. After the defeat of Persia Greece flourished.

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    • Hugo de Vries, painted by Thérèse Schwarze in 1918, painting a plant of the species Oenothera, his most important test plant.

    A new Golden Age

    Is there a link between economic growth, science and art? Of course there is! And nowhere else was this clearer than in Amsterdam in the final quarter of the nineteenth century.

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    • Excavations in Alexandria.

    Greco-Roman Egypt

    Since the arrival of Alexander the Great Egypt was administered by the Greeks, and after the death of Cleopatra, the Roamn Emperors took over.

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    • The Great Pyramid of Kheops in Giza, with one of the Queens’ pyramids on the right.

    Pharaonic Egypt

    The most striking aspects of the country at this time were the attention life life after death and the many gods who were adored there, both in human and animal form.

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    • The Coptic monastery of St. Anthony, Egypt.

    Coptic period

    Today the term 'Copt' refers to a member of the Coptic Church of Egypt, while archaeologists regard a Copt more generally as any Christian inhabitant of Egypt in the first centuries of our era.

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    • Cyprus, Aphrodites rock.


    The island of Cyprus lies at the intersection of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. The Greeks regarded Cyprus as the island of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty who, according to tradition, emerged from the sea near the southwestern coast.

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    Prehistoric Greece

    The Greek Bronze Age started around 3000 B.C. when the people were able to work metal. Their need for copper and tin, the two components of bronze, as well as their surpluses of olives and woollen products resulted in thriving trade relations, which greatly contributed to prosperity.

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    • Detail of a portrait of Thomas More. Flemish, c. 1510. This is the oldest painting in the collection of Gerardus van Papenbroeck.

    The eye of the master…

    In 1743 Gerardus van Papenbroeck donated 52 portraits of scholars to Amsterdam’s Athenaeum Illustre, to inspire the students. Nowadays they look down on doctoral degree ceremonies in the Agnietenkapel, setting a good example for others to follow.

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