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The Ussen Project

The first decade of excavations at Oss

Harry Fokkens
01 January 1998
Sidestone Press

The Oss project was started in 1974 by dr. Jan Verwers of the Institute of Prehistory of Leiden University, IPL for short (The institute as such no longer exists. It was transformed first into the Faculty of Prehistory, and now the Faculty of Archaeology). When this book was published in 1998 the Prehistorians from Leiden University were working in Oss for almost 25 years!

Why such a lengthy project? First of all it should be made clear that all the research carried out at Oss falls under the heading of rescue archaeology, but of a very special kind. Oss is a rapidly expanding town situated a short distance to the south of the river Meuse. The municipal authorities are building new housing estates especially on the northern and western sides of the town, where there is still room for expansion. In these building projects, a very extensive prehistoric landscape, densely inhabited from the Bronze Age until the Roman period, is gradually being destroyed. So far, an area of approximately 2.5 km2 has been built over, of which 45 ha (18%) have in the meantime been excavated. This is not a substantial area in relation to that which has been destroyed, but an enormous area in terms of archaeological coverage. The Ussen area in particular, which is the focus of this volume, has been intensively investigated. Here alone, 33 of the 126 ha that have been built over have been excavated. The excavators are claiming that at Oss they are investigating a prehistoric landscape and its dynamics.

The present volume of Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia contains a final report by Kees Schinkel on the prehistory (Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age) data obtained in the Ussen project. Wijnand van der Sanden analyses the funerary and related structures found at Oss-Ussen. The contributions by Bakels and by Lauwerier and IJzereef deal respectively with the seeds and fruits from the Iron Age and the livestock from the Iron Age and Roman period.

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