Buried in the borderlands: An artefact typology and chronology for The Netherlands in the early medieval period on the basis of funerary archaeology

PhD Thesis

Van Tongeren, T. 2021. Buried in the borderlands: An artefact typology and chronology for The Netherlands in the early medieval period on the basis of funerary archaeology. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities and Educational Studies
AuthorsVan Tongeren, T.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

Years of archaeological research in the Netherlands, in which Prehistory and the Roman period played a leading role, has shown a certain disinterest in and undervaluation of the early medieval period. Several cemeteries from the dynamic period between AD 400 and 750 have been excavated since the early 1900s, but sadly the results were rarely studied thoroughly, let alone published. In the decades since the turn of the last century, the archaeology of the early medieval period has begun to gain momentum. In recent years, researchers affiliated with various universities, museums, government institutions and commercial parties have been committed to publishing a relatively large number of cemeteries and other traces from this interesting period. For the dating of artefacts and compilation of catalogues, these researchers depended without exception on a multitude of region- or artefact-specific typologies and chronological schemes that are based on find complexes from outside the Netherlands, and therefore inherently less reliable.

During the early medieval period, the present-day Netherlands occupied a unique position as a border zone between the Frisians in the north, the Saxons in the east and the Merovingian Franks in the south. The rich material culture reflects this and deserves a holistic typology which is based on the archaeological reality in the Netherlands itself.

For this large-scale research, grave goods from approximately 2500 inhumations from 21 cemeteries distributed across the country are analysed. The database of grave goods is studied using a statistical research method called Correspondence Analysis. By doing so, a date is generated for each individual artefact type and grave contexts in the research on the basis of data from the Netherlands.

The compilation of the finds database confirmed that the Dutch material culture of the early medieval period cannot be analysed by only using a German or French typology. In order to simplify and locally embed future research into finds from the period, a holistic new typology has been developed, which includes pottery, glass, weapons, beads, belt fittings and brooches. Besides a combination of artefact types with roots in Germany, France and surrounding countries, locally produced objects are also added. All artefact types are provided with a revised date based on Dutch rather than foreign context.

KeywordsFunerary archaeology ; Netherlands; Early medieval period; Typology; Chronology
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Deposited13 Dec 2021
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