Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD defence

Before Temples

  • R. de Leeuwe
Wednesday 31 May 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. D.R. Fontijn
  • Prof.dr. H. Fokkens


Before the introduction of Roman temples in the Low Countries, there used to be ‘open air cult places’ in the Iron Age⁠⁠. That is at least the assumption based on descriptions given by classical writers and several archetypical sanctuaries that were excavated in France⁠⁠. However, the rectangular structures regularly encountered in Belgium and the Netherlands that are so often interpreted by archaeologists as cult places are not comparable to the French examples⁠⁠. The evidence these structures deliver does not testify to long usage, modifications, disarticulated human remains, animal bones or Iron Age weaponry that is to be expected of such a place⁠⁠. Rather, short term utilisation, pottery depositions and a vaguely defined relation to cremation graves typify the rectangular structures⁠⁠. These finds and features could fit in the ancestral worship belief system, although what does that actually entail? How did Iron Age people actually conceptualise or practice interaction with ancestral spirits? In this thesis the use of rectangular structures during the Iron Age is explored and the meaning of related depositions interpreted⁠⁠. The structures fulfilled a special sociocultural position in Iron Age society, emphasised by the deliberately chosen liminal location in an increasingly structured landscape⁠⁠.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press enquiries (journalists only)

+31 (0)71 527 1521

General information

Beadle's Office
+31 71 527 7211

This website uses cookies.  More information.