Funding for research into two important archaeological finds

3 July 2018

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is funding research into two archaeological finds of (inter)national importance. These are a complex of archaeological sites from the Roman period in Tiel-Medel and a collection of precious metal objects from a 17th-century shipwreck off the coast of Texel.

The programme Archaeological finds of (inter)national importance was initiated by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science to make detailed research into archaeological excavations possible. NWO and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands work together in realising this programme and have awarded funding for the third successive year. The results of the research are not only relevant for science but also for a broad national and international public. Therefore part of the funding is used for knowledge transfer, such as exhibitions and popular scientific publications. The research should also fit within the National Research Agenda for Archaeology. A total of € 100,000 has been awarded to each project.

The following projects will start this year:

Inhumation grave from the 5th century, found at Tiel-Medel. The finds on the belt are in Germanic style. On the basis of isotope analysis of the tooth enamel, it is investigated where the burial one grew up. Source: Stijn HeerenInhumation grave from the 5th century, found at Tiel-Medel. The finds on the belt are in Germanic style. On the basis of isotope analysis of the tooth enamel, it is investigated where the burial one grew up. Source: Stijn Heeren

Tiel-Medel: sites from the Roman period – project leader Dr Stijn Heeren (VU Amsterdam)

During large-scale archaeological research in Tiel-Medel from 2016 to 2017, a complex of sites from the Roman period was investigated. This complex covers a simple agricultural settlement, several burial grounds and the remains of a villa, and it therefore has an exceptional collective value for the analysis of the Roman cultural landscape in the Dutch Rivers area. In the research, the focus will be on a cluster of settlement traces with exceptionally rich and varied archaeological material from the early Roman period as well as human burials and other material from the late Roman period. In both periods, the material remains appear to be from first-generation migrants. One of the aims of the research is to investigate where they came from and how they lived together with, and later became part of, the population that already lived there. It will also be examined whether the location of this area in the Roman border region influenced the merging process of different populations.

Powder box, gilded brass. Dutch or German. Provincial depot for archeology Noord-Holland (Kees Zwaan)Photo: Powder box, gilded brass. Dutch or German. Provincial depot for archeology Noord-Holland (Kees Zwaan)

Precious metals from a ship wreck off the coast of Texel – project leader Prof. Maarten van Bommel (University of Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)

Archaeological precious metals contain a lot of information, especially about the historical context. The surface on which engravings and gildings are found, is particularly important. Ultimately this knowledge helps us to understand the culture of our ancestors better. However that same surface is subject to wear and decay, and conservation treatments such as polishing can exert a negative influence on the readability of the metal. It is therefore important that relevant information about the object and its context are not lost after the excavation. This project will investigate the best way of retrieving information from archaeological precious metals before this is lost due to decay and/or conservation treatments. The collection of finds from the 'Palmhout' (Palmwood) wreck contains a unique group of precious metal objects. These probably belong to an almost intact personal collection from the 17th century, a unique find without any known historical parallels. The objects are also interesting from a materials science perspective due to their virtually unpolished state. Research into these precious metal objects will yield a better understanding about the objects and the relationships between these, also with respect to the rest of the objects found in the wreck.

Extra money for archaeological finds

Since the implementation of the Valletta Treaty in Dutch archaeological legislation, the responsibility for archaeology lies with the municipalities. This includes the research into very special findings. This proceeds according to the principle of 'the disrupter pays'. Detailed research, supplementary to the elementary research, into archaeological excavations is sometimes difficult to realise in the case of Dutch finds of (inter)national importance. With earmarked extra funds the Ministry creates the possibility to realise further research into these important findings.

Further information


Source: NWO