Universiteit Leiden

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NWO-multiple project for Prof. Harry Fokkens

The Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research has honored the application of Prof. Harry Fokkens for the research project entitled "Farmers of the coast, coastal farming communities on the southern North Sea coast, 2000-800 BC ".

The proposed project focuses on the extensively excavated but poorly published archaeological sites of West-Frisia as case studies of coastal farming communities. The research will deliver a coherent image of coastal populations of the Bronze Age in West-Frisia.

Due to excellent conditions of preservation, the North Sea coast has a fantastic record of Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement sites. Mesolithic and Neolithic coastal wetland communities are well studied, but a coherent image of coastal populations of the Bronze Age is strikingly absent. This absence is the more remarkable given the richness of the record for this period: from the archaeological evidence it is clear that between 2000 and 800 BC the wetlands along the North Sea coast were densely inhabited by fully farming communities. These wetlands may not have been unlike those of the Low Countries today: very well suited for arable farming and stock raising and central in trade and communication networks, both with the uplands as well as overseas.

The proposed project revolves around the hypothesis that Bronze Age coastal communities were thriving farming communities with their own cultural identity and with a central position in communication networks. There is hardly any region better suited for studying prehistoric communities on the North Sea coast than the Netherlands. Not only was its location central in a traffic-geographical sense, but also the Netherlands boasts one of the best preserved Bronze Age landscapes in north-western Europe: the fossil landscapes of West Frisia.

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