A small tortoise as a pet in the 17th century: a special invention in Enkhuizen

A small tortoise as a pet in the 17th century: a special invention in Enkhuizen

A unique discovery at the base of the old port of Enkhuizen: In the 17th century a small pet turtle was found in the city. Archaeologists found animals during excavations in the KuiperstÓ«┐ich region of western Friesland, where there was an old harbor.

This animal is the oldest example of a pet turtle in the Netherlands. The North American box turtle was brought from the United States by a merchant ship in the 17th century.

The tortoise was found in the mud of the old pit of the harbor, which was excavated in the late 16th century and filled in 1880.

Initials and a hole

It soon became clear that it was not a tortoise that lived freely in nature, as the two initials B and D were inscribed on its belly. Also on top of his shield is a white cross and a hole in his back armor.

The article continues below the photo.

At first, the tortoise was thought to have ended up in Enkhuizen as something of a collector’s object. This is because the paintings of the time show that the tortoise shells were often taken by sailors as a kind of exotic object. That hole was seen as a hanging hole.

However, a restoration studio in Herlan discovered that the reptile lived in Enquisen because the tortoise’s skeleton was found in the shell.

Long snow

The box turtle comes from the United States and may have come from Enkhuizen aboard the West Indies Company. According to West-Friesland archeology, a tortoise can survive such a long voyage. The box turtle eats a variety of animal and vegetable foods and is dormant, requiring little care during that period.

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Pets in the 17th century

It was not customary to keep pets in the 17th century. Animals can only be maintained if they perform a function for the owner. It is known to have been maintained as a rare species of exotic animal such as the tortoise, archaeologist West-Friesland says.

The initials of the ventral shell were a well-known phenomenon among turtles living in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is also known as making a hole in the shield to secure the reptile with a string or chain. But the invention of this tortoise shows the writing of initials already in the 17th century and the adjustment of animals by rope or chain.

It is not yet known which Inquisitor sailor this animal belonged to and how it came to be in the former harbor.

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