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Archaeological information from excavations

Regional archaeological research in the Netherlands

Field survey methods

The South-east of the Netherlands: lots of poor-quality data

Graphical analysis of regional archaeological data

The use of site typology to explore the Dutch Neolithization process

M. Wansleeben and L.B.M. Verhart

1 Regional archaeological research

Excavating sites is undoubtedly the most important source of archaeological knowledge. By studying finds and soil traces in their spatial context, supplemented by botanical, zoological and soil data, we can get a highly detailed picture of the past. However, extrapolating the information from a single observation to a larger area or over a longer period is often quite difficult. What part did the excavated settlement play in the overall settlement system?

Regional archaeological research, be it field surveys, inventory of collections, test trenches or coring, is a major method of research for this additional information. The material reflection of all human activities over a certain period in a region is in itself an archaeological source of information. It provides us with a new perspective on societies in the past. The south-east of the Netherlands is archaeologically very rich. Thanks to the geologically relatively stable terrain, all traces of habitation from the late Palaeolithic onwards are still on the surface. Regional research seems therefore eminently suitable. However, the finds from field surveys are all more or less distorted due to any number of methodological problems (Hamond 1980; Schiffer 1976). The data do encompass the entire area and have a greater depth of time, but their quality is significantly less than the excavation data. How to handle the numerous, but randomly distorted, primary data responsibly is one of the main challenges of the regional archaeological research in the south-east of the Netherlands.

[Fieldwalking]  [Mega auger]
Fig. 4 Different survey techniques, fieldwalking (left) and coring with a very large (mega) auger (right)


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Last updated: Wed Feb 25 1998