The Low Countries

The Low Countries

The Low Countries

The Low Countries

Excerpt

When I was asked by my colleague Glyn E. Daniel to write a book on the prehistory of the Low Countries for the 'Ancient Peoples and Places' series, which he directs with his well-known competence and energy, I accepted his offer somewhat light-heartedly. It was only after having drawn the first general sketch of the work that I realized how difficult it was going to be to condense into something like 40,000 words the ancient history of the area under consideration, from the first appearance of man onwards to the Roman Conquest, near the very beginning of our era.

This object has not been easy to achieve. Indeed, to describe the prehistory of Belgium and the Netherlands, and to give it the place it deserves in the general European picture, means nothing less than considering the prehistory of all Western and Northern Europe. Practically, all cultural tendencies and all civilizations which characterized this part of the world in prehistoric times can be found--sometimes very attenuated, it is true--in our regions. This results more from the geographical position of the Low Countries than from their physical aspect or their natural wealth. The whole area--except the fertile zone in central Belgium and Dutch Limburg--was indeed at that period not very attractive from a settler's point of view: the rather sterile Ardennes highlands, covered with dense forests, the sandy soils and the marshy lowlands continually threatened by disastrous floods, formed the bulk of the territory. The subsoil, too, was rather poor, at least in products which might have at, tracted prehistoric man. The exploitation of flint deposits alone gave rise to a certain amount of trade during neolithic times. But here no copper, no tin, no silver, no amber are to be found. It is only at the end of the protohistoric period that iron began to be . . .

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