Zandmotor Mammoth Soup

Theun Karelse

Tasting the Ice Age of an Artificial Sandbank

With excerpts from Mammoth soup


The Zandmotor (sand motor) is presented as a fresh chapter in Dutch landscape design vocabulary. Where a rigid dam might represent ideals of human control and containment of natural processes, the Zandmotor is intended as a dynamic amorphous entity that radically feels wind and water. It has been designed not just as an open system but even to harness the forces of nature. The sea currents and wind are active agents driving the motor, set to dissolve in the next decade and thus supplying the eroding Dutch coast with sand.

The place is covered by a rich tapestry of tracks marking out various patterns of human activity and scientific research. It’s striking to see even researchers themselves driving straight through the fieldwork of others. The sand motor is a four-trillion-ton monster that slowly self-organises like aggregate architectures, carrying an array of sensor technology on its back that is tracking the behemoth’s every move.

Along with plants, trees, and animals, the first Europeans who moved north after the receding ice of the last “glacial maximum”, or ice age, entered into an unknown landscape that had only recently seen tremendous geological violence and was still dotted with dead ice lakes. The receding ice raised global sea levels. Doggerland, the landmass that existed between the United Kingdom and the European mainland, flooded. The sand motor as an effort of geological rewilding resonates profoundly with those landscapes lost in previous periods of massive climate change. As a “Next Doggerland”, the Zandmotor invites our eye to the ephemeral tidal geographies of Northwest Europe and through extensive field exploration one might hope to sketch out tentative first contours of skills and sensibilities that might enable more entailed modes of existence, wherever our climate might take us.

But the Zandmotor isn't composed of just sand. Taken from the bottom of the North Sea, it is full of bones and fossils; only a protective grid on the dredger keeps bombs and other large submerged human artefacts from being present in this massive geological meatball. In a literal sense this is a next Doggerland, where many fossils can be found, though often fractured by the process. This excludes them from conservation efforts, but maybe instead of conservation they could be the subject of activation.

Some of the fossils are rather spectacular, like a mammoth rib or the tooth of a woolly rhino. These date back to the last ice age and are between 40,000 and 20,000 years old. Can anything from those times be experienced through these bones? Would they perhaps still have a taste? Could we become the first people in many thousands of years to taste mammoth?

A Doggerland menu

This menu was developed by Theun Karelse and experimental chef Sjim Hendrix, under the auspices of (food) archeologists Nadine Lemmers and Henri Roquas

Mammoth Taster

A subtle bone broth prepared with the shards of ice age bones.

Primordial Soup

A delicious soup with assorted Zandmotor fossils, birch wine, fermented cornus mas, raw reindeer meat, and freshly picked ramson as a garnish.

Tasting notes

People first tried the Mammoth Taster. Interestingly everyone waited for the archaeologists to begin. The taste seemed subtle at first, but slowly grew in intensity until a salty, rather sharp taste emerged. It had a strong clay-ish flavour with hints of mollusc and seaweed (perhaps algae covered fur?) and a limestone / bone scent.

The Primordial Soup had a more complex flavour due to the richness of the reindeer meat, the wine and the fresh herb garnish, as a counterbalance to the ancient seabed aromas.

Practicing Attunement