The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in the Sandy Lowlands of Belgium: New Evidence

By Crombe, Philippe; Perdaen, Yves et al. | Antiquity, September 2002 | Go to article overview

The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in the Sandy Lowlands of Belgium: New Evidence


Crombe, Philippe, Perdaen, Yves, Sergant, Joris, Van Roeyen, Jean-Pierre, Van Strydonck, Mark, Antiquity


Until recently little was known about the Late Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the sandy lowlands of northern Belgium. The only evidence was a few highly disturbed dry-land sites (Meeuwen, Dilsen, Weelde, etc.) which yielded a Late Mesolithic lithic industry, small amounts of Michelsberg/Hazendonk pottery and Neolithic tools (polished axes, arrowheads, large blades in mined flint, etc.). Based on these largely surface data, several neolithization models have been elaborated for the sandy area on the agrarian frontier in Belgium. In nearly all models, a long survival of the Late Mesolithic tradition is claimed. According to some of them, Late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in the sandy area persisted almost without any influence from the adjacent Neolithic/agrarian groups of the Middle Belgian loss region until or after the arrival of the Michelsberg culture (Verhart 2000: 111-15, 231) or even until the start of the Bronze Age (Vermeersch 1990: 100-101). Some (Creemers & Vermeersch 1989; Vermeersch 1996) have even proposed a `transhumance' model in which these native hunter-gatherers were employed by Michelsberg farmer-herders for herding cattle in the sandy area. They also interpret the Michelsberg enclosures found at numerous locations in Middle Belgium as possible indications of some kind of tension between the two population groups.

Recently, however, new and more reliable evidence, mainly from wetland sites, sheds a totally new light on this topic. Salvage research in the valley of the river Schelde (Crombe 1998), in particular in the vicinity of the Antwerp harbour (FIGURE 1), revealed two important wetland sites--Melsele `Hof ten Damme' (van Berg et al. 1992) and Doel `Deurganckdok' (Crombe et al. 2000). The two sites are similar in their environmental setting: they are situated on elongated but narrow sand ridges of Lateglacial origin within the former flood plain of the Schelde river and are consequently sealed by thick layers of peat and alluvial sediments. The site of Melsele was investigated in 1984-1986 and 1990 over a relatively small area of c. 100 sq. m. A preliminary analysis of the findings combined with the results of extensive radiocarbon dating on different materials and contexts (Van Strydonck et al. 1995), however, indicates the existence of an enormous palimpsest at this locality. It is believed that the top of the dune has at least 3 different occupation phases--a Late Mesolithic, a Final Mesolithic with pottery and a Middle Neolithic--the remains of which have been irrevocably mixed by bioturbation processes. Although re-use and bioturbation are also attested at Doel, this site seems to offer better prospects.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The site of Doel `Deurganckdok'

The site of Doel was discovered and subsequently excavated during the construction of a dock in the Antwerp harbour situated on the left bank of the Schelde. The salvage operation was conducted by Ghent University in close collaboration with the regional archaeological service Archeologisch Dienst Waasland between May and September 2000. A total surface of about 4000 sq. m was investigated, but in extremely bad conditions, so that only part of the data could be collected properly.

The excavations revealed the presence of two prehistoric areas, one dated to the Final Mesolithic, the second to the Neolithic. Besides numerous hearth-pits, in both areas archaeological material, consisting of lithics, ceramics and burnt ecofacts (bones, hazelnut shells, burnt seeds, etc.) was collected from a c. 10-20-cm thick bioturbated layer at the transition of the peat and underlying cover sand. This layer has been interpreted as an old A-horizon which was sealed by peat from 5050 [+ or -] 55 BP (NZA-12075) onwards.

Final Mesolithic zone

Next to numerous flint artefacts belonging to an older Federmesser occupation, the lithic industry found at this location contains a series of artefacts with clear Late Mesolithic affinities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in the Sandy Lowlands of Belgium: New Evidence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.