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Eight human skulls in a dung heap and more

Ritual practice in the terp region of the northern Netherlands, 600 BC - AD 300
PhD ceremony:dr. A. (Annet) Nieuwhof
When:June 08, 2015
Supervisors:prof. dr. D.C.M. (Daan) Raemaekers, prof. dr. S. (Sofia) Voutsaki, prof. dr. J. Bazelmans
Co-supervisor:dr. E. Taayke
Where:Academy building RUG
Eight human skulls in a dung heap and more

New approach to the burial culture of terp dwellers

The study of past ritual practices is an accepted part of archaeological research these days. Yet, its theoretical basis is still not fully mature. This book aims to contribute to the study of ritual practices in the past by firstly assembling a theoretical framework, which is tailored to the needs of archaeology, and which helps to identify and interpret the remains of rituals in the past.

This framework is then applied in a specific archaeological case study: the coastal area of the northern Netherlands, a former salt marsh area. People lived here on artificial dwelling mounds, so-called terps. Preservation conditions are excellent in this wetland area. This study makes use of the well-preserved remains of rituals in terps, in particular the terps of Englum and Ezinge, to examine the role of ritual practice in the societies of the pre-Roman and Roman Iron Age in this area. One of the conclusions is that human remains played an important part in ritual practice. Therefore, an important part of this study is devoted to the variable mortuary rituals that were practiced here.

The large number of finds, especially from Ezinge, makes it possible to trace changes in ritual practice, in relation to changes in the habitation history and the social organization throughout the research period.

See also the video with Nieuwhof telling about her research: New approach to the burial culture of terp dwellers