Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The Middle Palaeolithic industries of the Dutch river area

What is the research question?

Alexander Verpoorte

Large parts of the Netherlands consist of thick fluvial deposits laid down during the Pleistocene by the main rivers Rhine and Meuse. The nature of the archaeological record of the Pleistocene fluvial environment is the subject of this new research theme. We focus on collections of stone artefacts by avocational archaeologists, mostly collected in the 1970s in during wet and dry sand-and-gravel extraction. The collections sample the remains left in fluvial environments by early humans.      


Key questions in this research are:

  • Distinguishing geofacts and artefacts (nature vs culture)
  • Surface alterations as indicators for the taphonomic history of the collections
  • Technological and typological description
  • Chronological control derived from the chronostratigraphy of the fluvial deposits

The topic provides material for practical training in lithic analysis and BA-research.


The first studies deal with the collection M.Franssen (in the Museum of Antiquities Leiden) from the quarries Kwintelooijen (Rhenen II) and Vogelenzang (Rhenen I). It concerns stone artefacts (and geofacts) from the ice-pushed ridges in the Central Netherlands (province of Utrecht).

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