In this country of lakes, rivers and waterways, for centuries goods and people were mainly transported by water. The Zuyder Zee was a major link in the transport network. Fishing on this inland sea was also an important source of food and income.
Over the centuries many ships perished in the Zuyder Zee which, with its many shallows and unexpected currents, was difficult to navigate. The majority of the wrecks are inland water vessels and fishing boats lost between 1200 and 1900.
The structure of the seabed meant most sunken ships quickly disappeared below the sediment. Many are therefore well preserved. A large number of wrecks were discovered when the IJsselmeer polders were reclaimed from the Zuyder Zee. To date (2004) 435 shipwrecks have been recorded. One new find is generally reported each year. The IJsselmeer polders are the world’s largest ships’ graveyard on dry land.