Digital Urban History of the Early Modern World: Amsterdam and Edo

This project utilizes digital methods to uncover patterns of gendered use in the historic urban space of Amsterdam and Edo. It explores the spatial history of these two cities through virtual three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions of early modern streetscapes based on various printed scholarly resources, archival research, and digital site-surveys. These 3D digital reconstructions do not only play a role as a digital toolbox for the virtual assessment of given urban spaces but also aim to represent and re-evaluate the sense of the place, as experienced by historical actors. In addition, this analysis  builds on the datasets compiled in the context of the Edo and Amsterdam projects and visualises this information as abstract and geographical mappings, showing the gendered use of urban space and mobility over time.  

Another line of investigation consists in a spatio-historical cross-comparison of Edo and Amsterdam in the early modern period by way of elevation diagrams of select streetscapes. Through this analysis, the project intends to expand the de-facto emphasis on the “horizontal’’ dimension when analysing historical urban patterns (typically in the form of maps and building plans) and introduces the “vertical” dimension to fully decipher the lived space of the premodern city. By doing so, it also brings to the forth the concept of “water cities” and examines the interrelations between streets, water and canals, as well as the use and perception of these spaces by social actors.

Together, these lines of research have the important goal to facilitate public engagement. The digital outputs will not only serve as research models, but also as an important means of engaging a wider audience.

Researcher: Gamze Saygi