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Research Groningen Institute of Archaeology GIA centennial: 2020

100 years of GIA, a photo history

The GIA is 100 years old. In those 100 years enough has been done and done to write a thick book. Because Archeology is a discipline where a lot of information is told and processed in images, we opted for a different method: we show 100 photos that together reflect 100 years of excavation, top finds, the developments in excavation technology, but also in processing data, research and education and internationalization. With each photo we place a short explanatory text, both in English and in Dutch. The photos will also be posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo 37. 1939 - Lannion France: Cist

Lannion France: Cist.
Lannion France: Cist.

Just before the Corona outbreak, the GIA received a request for this photo from Germany, where an exhibition was prepared in the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte in Halle, which focuses on funerals from the early Bronze Age. The photo that they wanted to use was taken in 1939, during the excavation of A.E. van Giffen from a cist in Lannion. It took a while because the University was closed, as most of these pictures have not been digitized yet, but now the makers of the exhibition have the right file. On request, the GIA received the description below with the photo:

In 1939 parts of the large tumulus "La Motta" near Lannion in Brittany were excavated by A. E. van Giffen on behalf of the Biological Archaeological Institute of the University of Groningen. The tumulus yielded a stone chest with a remarkable burial from the early Bronze Age: a bronze sword, two bronze axes, six bronze daggers, seven flint arrowheads and a whetstone were found in the cist. This amount makes it likely that more than one person was ever buried in this grave. Unfortunately, no skeletons or human bones have survived, but it can be assumed that they were once deposited in the southeastern part of the cist, as only a bronze ax was found in this part of the cist.

The photo was taken from the west, with parts of the grave goods presented on site.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Butler, J.J., & H.T. Waterbolk, 1974: La Fouille de A.E. van Giffen à "La Motta". Un Tumulus de l'Age du Bronze Ancien à Lannion (Bretagne). Avec des remarques complémentaires de J. Briard et des appendices de J.J. Taylor et J.N. Lanting, Palaeohistoria 16, 107-169.

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Photo 36. 2000 + 2019 - Introduction camp

first years students

Introduction camp first years students.
Introduction camp first years students.

At the beginning of each academic year, the new first-year archaeology students go on an introduction camp, organized by the study association Bachur. The study association was founded in 1994 with the aim of connecting archaeology students from different years and tracks. To this day, the association still succeeds in that goal: with over a hundred members, almost weekly activities, national and international excursions and various committees, there is something to do for every archaeology student. Although the excursions and activities are different each year, the introduction camp has been a regular feature for nearly twenty-five years. The top photo shows an introduction camp from 2000 on the archaeological park in Haps (?), The bottom photo was taken in 2019 during the camp in the archaeological open-air museum Swifterkamp in Lelystad.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 35. Iron Age reconstruction in Orvelte (Dr.)

Iron Age reconstruction in Orvelte (Dr.).
Iron Age reconstruction in Orvelte (Dr.).

Situated just northwest of the village of Orvelte is an Iron Age farm, reconstructed by the GIA. BAI settlement excavations in the 1960s uncovered a large number of house plans. For the then researcher Otto Harsema, these settlement excavations were an important stimulus for an experimental archaeological project. Harsema's interest in translating Iron Age house plans into an actual Iron Age farm was reinforced by a visit to Lejre, Denmark, where some of the pioneers of experimental archaeology were working at the time.

For the reconstruction, a characteristic representative of the three-aisled house type was sought. In addition, the chosen house plan had to be unambiguous: disturbances and later-made adjustments that made the interpretation of post holes difficult and arbitrary would result in a less valid reconstruction. With this in mind, the researchers chose a house plan excavated in 1972-1973 in Hijken from the Late Iron Age (200 BC); a house map that occurs from Brabant to Ezinge.

With the reconstruction, the BAI researchers have been able to gain more insight into the basic principles of the construction of such a prehistoric farm, such as the amount of material required, different beam connections, the degree of difficulty of the various activities and the required construction time. In addition, the end result functions to this day as a space in which one can experience living in the Iron Age.

© Jacqueline Speelman, Hunebedcentrum.

Literature

  • Harsema, O. 1980: De reconstructie van een ijzertijdhuis bij Orvelte, gemeente Westerbork, Nieuwe Drentse Volksalmanak 96, 149-175.

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Photo 34. 2017 - Students are building hut

reconstructions

Students are building hut reconstructions.
Students are building hut reconstructions.

Since 2017, a group of students from GIA has been reconstructing Mesolithic huts. It started out as a fun week of building during the summer holiday, but now there is a real Working Group Experimental Archeology Groningen. The hut reconstructions and the working group are a platform for students to learn to set up and communicate their own research. In addition, the hut reconstructions have resulted in an active image enrichment of life in the Mesolithic. The new designs are being built together with the working group at archaeological parks such as Swifterkamp in Lelystad and at the Hunebedcentrum in Borger. The GIA supports these types of initiatives because it allows its students the freedom to further develop their own interests in archaeology and their first steps in scientific research.

Also in the past GIA researchers and students made several archaeological reconstructions. For example, there is an Iron Age farm in Orvelte, reconstructed in 1978 by Otto Harsema and Horrëus de Haas. Between 2013 and 2015, PhD candidate Daniël Postma built an Early Medieval turf house in Firdgum. Both reconstructions can still be admired today.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

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Photo 33. 1934 - An Iron Age Palisade in Zeijen,

Drenthe

An Iron Age Palisade in Zeijen, Drenthe.
An Iron Age Palisade in Zeijen, Drenthe.

The GIA (then BAI) has excavated a couple of interesting sites in Drenthe that have become known as ‘Iron Age fortifications’, but could better be characterized as ‘with palisade enclosed settlements’. On the photo you can see the site Zeijen – I, seen from the south, with two house plans (centre and left). The palisade is indicated with the wooden stakes in the foreground and on the far right.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Waterbolk, H.T., 1977: Walled enclosures of the Iron Age in the North of the Netherlands, Palaeohistoria 19, 97-172.
  • Waterbolk, H.T., 2009: Getimmerd verleden. Sporen van voor- en vroeghistorische houtbouw op de zand- en kleigronden tussen Eems en IJssel. Groningen, Barkhuis.

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Photo 32. 2017 - Fieldschool of the Monastery Yesse,

Groningen

Fieldschool of the Monastery Yesse, Groningen.
Fieldschool of the Monastery Yesse, Groningen.

Carrying out independent archaeological fieldwork is an important skill to be learned within the Archaeology program. In Groningen, after a series of preparatory lectures and practicals (in which, among other things, surveying and archaeological drawing is practiced), a full month of fieldwork is carried out by the first-year students. This takes place on question-driven GIA research projects with a pre-conceived training component. As a result, there is less pressure with regard to the lead time and required space of a project (other than in commercial archaeology!). We can take the time to let students take a good look at, and think about, the field technical aspects. In that sense, both the student who is leaning on his shovel and the supervisor with her hands in her pocket are doing a terrific job: they reflect, discuss and keep a good overview. After all, archaeological data can only be documented once in its original context, so taking the time for a good explanation is always wise.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 31. 2009 - A Mesolithic encampment in

Meerstad, Groningen

A Mesolithic encampment in Meerstad, Groningen.
A Mesolithic encampment in Meerstad, Groningen.

In 2009, as part of a field school, a flint concentration from the Mesolithic was excavated in Meerstad (an eastern extension of the city of Groningen). As usual on stone age sites, the archaeological layer was divided into sections of 50 by 50 cm in order to be able to sieve the soil. The pegs protruding from the ground indicate the vertices of these boxes. In this photo, the students take smaller soil samples that will be sieved on 1 mm mesh size. This allows the smallest flint fragments (so-called micro-debitage) to be traced. If such fragments are found, we can be sure that flint has been worked on the spot (and that not only ready-made tools were taken to the Meerstad camp by hunter-gatherers).

All data of this project are open access available: http://gia.ub.rug.nl/12

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Arnoldussen, S., J.P. Mendlets, R.L. Fens & J.H.M. Peeters, 2012: Een mesolithisch kampement te Meerstad - vindplaats 2a. Grondsporen 12. Groningen, Groninger Instituut voor Archeologie.

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Photo 30. 1957 - A Bronze Age temple in

Bargeroosterveld, Drenthe

A Bronze Age temple in Bargeroosterveld, Drenthe.
A Bronze Age temple in Bargeroosterveld, Drenthe.

The 'temple of Bargeroosterveld' is a structure made up of 8 heavy oak posts that was found in March 1957 in the peat northeast of Bargeroosterveld. On the basis of new dendrochronological research, it is clear that this structure must have been built between 1478 and 1470 BC. Originally, the posts may have been connected with horizontal beams in the top ending in a shape reminiscent of bovine horns. Between these poles there might have been room for a sacrificial plateau, statue or coffin. The special construction method (surrounded by stones, placed in the peat) suggests that it may have had a ceremonial or ritual function. This remains a virtually unique example of a cult location from the (Dutch) Bronze Age.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature


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Photo 29. 2018 - Ship excavation ‘Queen Anne’

in Rutten, Flevoland

Ship excavation ‘Queen Anne’ in Rutten, Flevoland.
Ship excavation ‘Queen Anne’ in Rutten, Flevoland.

A three hundred year old shipwreck surrounded by onions, tulips and potatoes. It has become a familiar image to maritime archaeologists in the past 75 years: the soil of the province of Flevoland is in fact the former seabed of the Zuiderzee on which hundreds of shipwrecks have sunk. More than 450 wrecks have now been discovered and investigated, but many are still hidden under the polders’ crops. In the spring of 2016, farmer Dijkstra, who lives near Rutten, came across heavy wood fragments during the ploughing of his land: they turned out to be parts of a hitherto unknown shipwreck. An archaeological exploration in the fall of 2016 led to promising results, after which it was decided to fully excavate the wreck in the summer of 2018, in collaboration with the municipality of Noordoostpolder and the AWN Flevoland. The excavation was carried out by GIA under the supervision of PhD candidate and maritime archaeologist Yftinus van Popta. It offered dozens of students of the Archaeology program an opportunity to gain experience in excavating a shipwreck. There was also a large public interest, as the top photo shows: hundreds of enthusiasts stood by the trench on several occasions.

In three months, the shipwreck was completely excavated by hand (due to the shallow location of the wreckage parts, an excavator could not be used), digitally measured and drawn, 3D-modeled, cleared and reburied in the nearby Kuinderbos. More than a thousand objects were found in the shipwreck, which belong to the ship's inventory, cargo, rigging and personal property. Based on the ship's construction and the find material, the wreck is that of an armed English merchant ship built in 1705 and stranded between 1715 and 1725 on a sandbank along the northeast coast of the Zuiderzee. The ship may have departed from the south of Europe, based on the finds of olive jugs filled with olives, wine bottles with liquid contents, thousands of grapes (currants), peaches and a possible Spanish ham. Based on two royal pewter spoons bearing the portrait of the English queen Anne (1665-1714), the ship has been renamed the "Queen Anne". Several very busy public moments were organized during the excavation; work is currently underway on a monograph on the ship and an exhibition about the wreck can be seen in the RUG University Museum.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 28. 1968 - Van Giffen and the Groninger

St. Walburgkerk

Van Giffen and the Groninger St. Walburgkerk.
Van Giffen and the Groninger St. Walburgkerk.

In the years 1950-1951, 1957 and 1968, in the city of Groningen, the remains of the St. Walburgchurh, located under the current Martinikerkhof, have been excavated. The excavation were led by A.E. van Giffen. In 1973 van Giffen and his draftsman H. Praamstra completed the research with a publication: De Groninger St. Walburg and its background.

Postholes were found under and next to the foundations in 1950, probably the predecessor of the chapel. In that year, a local paper, Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, reported that Van Giffen was unable (his own words) to "discover a certain regular configuration in those posthole." One of these contained a post stump with find number 130a, the last find number from 1950. In order to give context to the 'questionable timber construction' and the post stump, a substantial part of the church foundation was cleared and the excavation surface deepened during the 1968 post-examination. This color slide shows the deepest excavation surface in a westerly direction - with ditches, ditches and potholes of the sought-after predecessor. The sticks in the plane mark post pits.

In 1950 van Giffen must have been informed about the work of Prof. dr. Dr. Willard Frank Libby (Chigaco, USA) who, in 1946, posited that the radioactive carbon isotopes 14C for organic material captured during life carry an archaeological clock. He convinced the Groningen professor of physics, Hessel de Vries, of usefulness and necessity, which then drastically improved Libby's measuring method. This became apparent in 1952, when the age of post stump 130a was measured in Chicago and Groningen (the first measurement!): a difference of 1000 years. Measurements in some other laboratories confirmed De Vries' dating and his measuring method also. This made the predecessor of the St. Walburgkerk not Late Roman, but full Medieval and above that: the use of the 14C dating method in the Netherlands was now a fact. The post stump was measured again almost 40 years later. The cut date of the used oak is now between 855-885 or 895-1015 AD.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 27. 2015 - Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry.
Photogrammetry.

The GIA has owned 3D scanners for many years, which have been used regularly to record archaeological objects and contexts. In 2015, “photogrammetry” was introduced as a new method for obtaining 3D documentation and spatial data. For one it was applied to record all dolmens of the Netherlands in 3D and in a 2DGeographical Information System.

The method of 3D documentation that has been used with the dolmens with photogrammetry is based on digital photos that are converted into a 3D model by a software program. This principle has been used in cartography for more than a century (to extract relief from aerial photographs) and is also known as “Structure from Motion” (SfM). Because the "photographer" is always in a different place and captures different overlapping views (= motion), the 3D structure of the registered object can be reconstructed. In short, it is a method with which 3D models can be calculated based on a series of overlapping 2D images. By integrating the use of a GPS this method can also be applied to acquire accurate geographical information of a landscape or (part of) an excavation.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 26. 1991-1993 - The matrix of a goldsmith in

Wijnaldum (Friesland)

The matrix of a goldsmith in Wijnaldum (Friesland).
The matrix of a goldsmith in Wijnaldum (Friesland).

The terp with the name "Tjitsma", near Wijnaldum, is commonly known as "king’s terp". A famous find from this terp is an impressive, 18 cm long disc-on-bow brooch, of gold and completely inlaid with pieces of red garnet (almandine). Jewelry and weapons decorated in almandine are mainly known from rich, often royal graves in surrounding areas, so the brooch from Wijnaldum can also be associated with a member of the royal elite. This precious find is therefore tangible evidence for the presence of royal families in the Frisian-Groningen coastal area. During the 6th and 7th centuries, these families headed regional kingdoms, which were gradually incorporated by the Franks during the 8th century.

Additional evidence for the special status of terp Tjitsma is an at first sight unspectacular discovery that was made here during excavations in the years 1991-1993: a bronze stamp (matrix) of approximately 1.6 by 1.6 cm, with a fine waffle pattern on the front. The matrix was used for stamping thin gold foil, which was placed behind pieces of almandine to give it extra sparkle in reflecting sunlight. In combination with the disc-on-bow brooch this find shows that not only people of royal status lived on terp Tjitsma, but also that gold jewelry inlaid with almandine was produced at this specific site. This makes Tjitsma one of the few places in Europe where we can say with certainty that a goldsmith was active, who worked on behalf of the royal family who lived here.

The photo shows the front and back of the matrix from Wijnaldum. Despite the damage, a complex waffle pattern is visible on the front, which was stamped in gold foil of garnet-decorated jewerellery by a local goldsmith.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Bos, J.M. & A.J. Nijboer, 1997: Koninklijke patronage: de edelsmid van Wijnaldum (Fr.). Paleo-aktueel 8, 108-110.
  • Nicolay, J.A.W., 2014: The splendour of power. Early medieval kingship and the use of gold and silver in the southern North Sea area (5th to 7th century AD) (= Groningen Archaeological Studies 28). Groningen, 259-260.

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Photo 25. 1972 - The first photo board

The first photo board.
The first photo board.

During the excavation of an urn field and burial mounds in 1972 at the Koningskamp in Havelte, a photo plate with white plastic letters was used for the first time. Purchased with the profits of a lecture and a self-made standard, it was used to avoid having to work with unidentifiable pictures of pots and urns. Previously, a find number was written down on a paper bag and placed near the object, then a photo was taken. The introduction of the photo sign in Havelte forced employees to immediately put (and write down) the correct number on the sign in the field. The sign and standard are now in the GIA archive. Nowadays, photo boards, both letter boards with individual letters and clipboards with interchangeable sheets, are an indispensable part of archeology.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 24. 2014 - Geophysical research in Italy

Geophysical research in Italy.
Geophysical research in Italy.

What if you want to study the human past, but do not want to disturb the buried archaeological record? Non-invasive, or non-destructive, research techniques have become common in archaeology in the past decades. Geophysical methods allow archaeologists to investigate ever larger areas without even putting a spade in the ground. GIA archaeologists have incorporated geophysics in their research of Bronze Age land use (Calabria), an Archaic city (Crustumerium), a Mycenaean palace (Ayios Vasilios), protohistoric salt production (Puntone Scarlino), and Roman land use (Pontine plain). One of our most mysterious discoveries so far is known as the ‘Unidentified Magnetic Object’ (UMO), a set of concentric circles of ca. 100x100 m alongside the Via Appia, south of Rome (figure: magnetic gradiometry +/-3nT results at Ad Medias; GIA Minor Centres Project / Eastern Atlas GmbH &CoKG, 2014). Anyone with ideas as to what this may be can contact Wieke de Neef!

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • De Neef, W., M. van Leusen & K. Armstrong, 2012: Multidisciplinair onderzoek naar late-bronstijd vindplaatsen op de contrada damale (calabrie, italie). Paleo-Aktueel 23, 15–22.
  • Ullrich, B., G. Tol & T. de Haas, 2015: An UMO landed on the Via Appia. Results of the Minor Centres Project in the Pontine plain, Lazio (Italy). Archaeologia Polona 53, 389-392.

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Photo 23. 2007 - Crustumerium: 3D scanning of

tomb 222

Crustumerium: 3D scanning of tomb 222.
Crustumerium: 3D scanning of tomb 222.

The purpose of 3D registration is to register the state of a moment and in doing so preserve it, as excavation is disastrous and there is a big chance that the tomb will collapse quite soon after the excavation. The 3D registration has preserved a representation of the tomb, also for use by future researchers.

In this photo, a GIA employee of the drawing room, is working with the scanning arm with laser. The red line of the laser can be seen - this indicates what is being scanned at that moment. The scanner records many thousands of points in 3D by means of laser light. It is the intention that the obtained points (cloud) can later be converted on the computer into a 3D reconstruction.

The skeleton had already been lifted when this photo was taken. It concerned a man who was buried around 550 BC. The grave was covered with a kind of roof tiles / covering tiles that have shifted and ended up on the ground. On the photo with photo plate you can see a set of the roof tile / covering tiles. The screenshot shows one of the many 3D scans that can be put together - using software – afterwards.

Due to the size of the files and the limited computing power of the standard RUG PC (for employees), the help of the CIT Reality Center (at the time the department High Performance Computing and Visualization of the CIT) was called in. There they have puzzled everything together and even made a movie of it:

https://www.rug.nl/society-business/centre-for-information-technology/research/hpcv/vr_visualisation/archeology/crustumerium/grotto

In the location of the Reality Center (CIT RUG) there is a virtual reality space (the so-called "Cave") where you can view and examine the tomb with 3D glasses.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 22. 2008 - Pontine regio project - survey

Pontine regio project - survey.
Pontine regio project - survey.

Within GIA’s endeavours in the Mediterranean, landscape archaeological research takes a prominent place. Especially the Pontine Region project, established in the 1980s by Peter Attema, has developed into a large collaborative effort that aims to study the long-term history of the Pontine Region in central Italy. This project is internationally at the forefront in the development of new field strategies, especially where it concerns the methodology of so-called field surveys.

This photo from 2008 shows staff and students of the GIA while carrying out such a field survey in the hinterland of the Roman colony of Norba. Ploughed fields are systematically traversed in search of artefacts and sites, in order to find out how, where and when the territory of this town was settled and cultivated. The research showed that the foundation of the colony in the 5th century BC hardly impacted the countryside, but that the area was intensively exploited during Norba’s heydays (3rd/2nd centuries BC).

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Haas, T. de, 2011: Fields, farms & colonists: intensive field survey and early Roman Colonization in the Pontine region, central Italy; PHD thesis, University of Groningen.

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Photo 21. 1972 - Urnfield at Noord Barge (Hoge Loo)

Urnfield at Noord Barge (Hoge Loo).
Urnfield at Noord Barge (Hoge Loo).

This photo shows a beaker-period grave with an enclosing circular ditch. Placed centrally, close to the main section, is the central grave. The ditch originally contained posts that delimited the burial mound. As the site was leveled prior to excavation, no mound body could be observed. In the background of the image, ditches dug to improve the medieval soil quality can be seen.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Kooi, P.B., 1979: Pre-Roman Urnfields in the North of the Netherlands, pp. 10-25: North Barge (Hoge Loo); PHD thesis, University of Groningen.

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Photo 20. 2014 - Stone Age - Lost craft: how flint

tools are made

Stone Age - Lost craft: how flint tools are made.
Stone Age - Lost craft: how flint tools are made.

When we talk about the Stone Age, it quickly turns to stone tools. For this, a lot of use was made of flint, a hard rock that can be easily worked with all kinds of percussion tools such as cobblers and hammers made of antler or wood. The resulting flakes had razor-sharp edges and were used to make all kinds of tools, such as knives, scrapers for working hides or wood, burins for working antler or bone, and drills for making holes. But also axes to cut down trees. Today, few societies continue to make and use stone tools. Archaeological books are full of images of prehistoric specimens, but for non-specialists in this field they are mainly static and abstract pictures. For students who are taught about prehistory during their education, demonstrations are given to give them a better idea of how flint tool manufacturing worked. Which techniques were used? How was the shape of semi-finished products and tools determined? How do you work from a mental concept toward a desired utensil? In this way, all those prehistoric finds acquire more meaning and more information can be extracted from them than a drawing or photo can show. Students who also try to work flint eventually learn to "read" prehistoric objects; "squeezing blood from stones", as an American archaeologist once wrote. But it is wise to have plasters on hand.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 19. 1932 - Graveyard at Laudermarke,

Groningen

Graveyard at Laudermarke, Groningen.
Graveyard at Laudermarke, Groningen.

In 1932 in Laudermarke, under A.E. van Giffen, a part of a grave field that had been cut earlier in 1922 was uncovered. The photo shows the many workers who dug up there during times of unemployment as part of relief work. Van Giffen wrote about this “… many people, birds of the most diverse plumage. Even a piano tuner wielded the spade here as a sign of the times”. The photo shows how the two lighter trenches of a grave monument are cut. This grave monument (“.. sod mound (...) with funeral fire and a lot of charcoal in focus”) can be dated to the early Iron Age.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 18. 2019 - Drones in GIA research

Drones in GIA research.
Drones in GIA research.

Archaeology is synonymous with digging, and hence going more or less deep and certainly below the surface. Through the centuries, excavations have helped to change our knowledge of past civilizations and ancient cultures greatly. And yet, sometimes an archaeologist has to put aside shovels and trowels and look at things from the distance. Occasionally, from very far away. Satellite archaeology, and more recently UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), commonly known as drones, are contributing enormously to answer questions tied to large geographical scales, and the embedding of UAVs technology to explore grand themes of archaeology has proved to be particularly effective. Mapping ancient landscapes from the air, to say, is fundamental to understand the dynamics that took place in those very same territories, and how past communities interacted with their own physical space.

GIA students and staff members are increasingly integrating drones in their fieldwork activities, and with incredible results. For example, this aerial picture was taken by the GIA researcher on the left. It shows an artificial mound called Tell Balyuz which is located on the outskirts of Duhok, a city in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Drone mapping research carried out in this region is providing the archaeological community with high-resolution topographic maps and 3D models of a previously untouched landscape, also contributing to the monitoring of the archaeological and historical heritage of a critical region for the ancient world.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 17. 1982- 1988 - A terp profile in

Heveskesklooster

A terp profile in Heveskesklooster.
A terp profile in Heveskesklooster.

Industrial expansions southeast of Delfzijl, which were never realized, threatened a still intact mound called Heveskesklooster. In the years 1982-1988, the mound was fully excavated by the then Biological Archaeological Institute (BAI), led by J.W. Boersma. A yet unknown Neolithic hunebed and stone cist were covered by a layer of peat. On the clay situated on top of this peat they discovered a house platform that was erected here in the decades before the start of the common era. During the Roman period and the Middle Ages, this stage gradually grew into an extensive mound, on which there was a monastery (Commanderij Oosterwierum) between about 1300 and 1610 and then a farm until 1975.

In the photos, archaeological draftsman of the GIA looks at two profiles showing a section of the lower part of the mound. The bottom of both profiles consists of natural peat (dark brown), covered by a layer of sea clay (light gray). A complex play of colors is visible on the sea clay, reflecting layers of elevation (large photo) and the filling of a wide ditch (small photo). On the ribbon, which is stretched in front of the profile, the measurements can be taken while drawing the layers. The further interpretation of the drawing is a time-consuming and detailed work, even for an experienced draftsman. Seated in a wooden chair, he gazes at the layers that each tell a piece of history of Heveskes Monastery, century by century.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Boersma, J.W., 1988: A preliminary overview of the archaeological research of the Weed Heveskes Monastery (Gr.). In: M. Biersma, A.T. Clason, E. Kramer & G.J. de Langen (ed.), Terpen and Wierden in the Frisian-Groningen coastal area. Groningen, 61-87.

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Photo 16. 1995-2006 - The Southeast gate of Halos

The Southeast gate of Halos.
The Southeast gate of Halos.

About ten excavation campaigns, between 1995 and 2006, archaeologists and GIA students spent excavating the Southeast Gate of the Hellenistic city of Halos. Like the houses and city walls, the gate was badly damaged by an earthquake around 265 BC. A large number of inhabitants will have left the city, but a few built new accommodation along the remains of the city wall. This also applies to the location of the Zuidoostpoort. In the passage of the gate, an enterprising resident set up a grain and olive processing and storage company.

Measuring walls, a water basin, fireplace, well, stairs, olive presses and storage vessels worked well. The top photo was taken in 2005, a GIA employee and a student record measurements via a total station (a total station is a surveying device that records all measurements in 3D). However, it turned out to be difficult to visualize the structures between the sometimes 4 m high walls, because at that time we were not yet able to use drones during an excavation. Photographer Thanos Efthimiopoulos provided the solution. Early in the morning he came with hot air balloons and a camera drawn over the excavation with long lines. The photos provided us with a glimpse into a Hellenistic company.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Reinders, H.R. et al., 2014: The City of New Halos and its Southeast Gate (= Groningen Archaeological Studies 27). Groningen.

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Photo 15. 2016-2021 - Survey and excavation in

Ayios Vasilios

Survey and excavation in Ayios Vasilios.
Survey and excavation in Ayios Vasilios.

This is an animal figurine of clay from the Mycenaean period (Late Bronze Age, ca. 1300 BC). It is probably an ox or cow: you can recognize the head, the horns, the beginning of two front legs and even an eye. These kinds of figurines are found in houses, graves and shrines; they are modest offerings or votive gifts from ordinary people, who most likely wanted to obtain protection for their flocks. It was found in 2017 during the survey of Ayios Vasileios, a palace complex from the Mycenaean period. Archaeologists have long fantasized about the possible existence of a Mycenaean palace in this region (Lakonia) in the southern mainland, but could not find it for a long time - until 2008, when a local farmer found a clay tablet bearing Linear B, an early Greek script, which was used almost exclusively for the palace administration. The subsequent excavations confirmed that there was a palace here. Between 2016 and 2021, this site was mapped by the GIA and led by Prof. dr. Sofia Voutsaki the Mycenaean cemetery of Ayios Vasileios was excavated.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 14. Reconstruction drawing Peelo,

300-400 AD.

Reconstruction drawing Peelo.
Reconstruction drawing Peelo.

This drawing shows the settlement of Peelo in late Roman times, consisting of four yards with stable houses, sheds and grain storage in spiekers. In the foreground are bottle-shaped iron ovens next to the house. To the right of this is a building with a pyramid-shaped roof, a forge where iron is worked.

The reconstruction is based on the soil traces found during the field investigation in Peelo. These ground traces are recorded on the field drawings made during the excavation campaigns in - formerly - the hamlet of Peelo, between 1977-1994.

The drawing was made by H. Roelink, a draftsman of the GIA, on the instructions of the person in charge in the field in Peelo, P.B. Kooi.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 13. 1991 - Mammoths in Drenthe

Mammoths in Drenthe.
Mammoths in Drenthe.

Drenthe is rich in archaeological remains, of which tens of Neolithic dolmens (hunebedden) visible in the present-day landscape have become the province’s icon. Less known are remains from times long gone, when Neanderthals were hunting in the plains of Ice Age northern Europe. Stone tools, such as handaxes, have been found at various locations in Drenthe, but remains of the animals they hunted are scarce in these parts of the Netherlands. However, during construction works for a gas pipeline in 1991, remains of at least three woolly mammoths – adult and juvenile – and a woolly rhinoceros were discovered near Orvelte. A number of radiocarbon dates has indicated that the bones, among which a complete mandible, were about 45,000 years old. Investigations by a multidisciplinary team from Groningen and Utrecht demonstrated that these animals died in a swampy, treeless valley dominated by dwarf birch and grasses. The animals remains got “trapped” in stagnating open water, and were quickly covered with muddy sediment (gyttja). Were these the remains of Neanderthal hunting parties? The researchers found no evidence for this, but it cannot be excluded either. Bones from so-called “kill sites” do not always show traces of the kill itself or subsequent butchery.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 12. 1977 - Excavation Swifterbant-S3

Excavation Swifterbant-S3.
Excavation Swifterbant-S3.

During the construction of the polder Eastern Flevoland, kilometers of new ditches were dug. Already In 1962 prehistoric finds were made. We now use the term Swifterbant culture, named after the polder village where these finds come from. Around 4300-4000 BC, hunter-gatherer-farmers lived here on the banks along a small river. The archaeological field research is a Groningen stronghold: during the summers of 1972-1979, a team led by J.D. van der Waals excavated and in the summers of 2004-2020 it was a team led by D.C.M. Raemaekers.

The photo gives an overview of the fieldschool at location S3. In the background the height of a point in the trench is measured using a level; in the middle student administer finds in paper bags and in the foreground students use a shovel to slice off thin layers of the find layer, in search of new finds.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 11. 2007 - A blocklift from Crustumerium

A blocklift from Crustumerium.
A blocklift from Crustumerium.

An initial phase of the expansion of the city-state of Rome in the 6th century BC meant the demise or subjugation of neighbouring towns along the Tiber. For example, Crustumerium (inhabited from the 9th century BC) was defeated by Rome in 499 BC.

Little has been found of the settlement, but the various cemeteries still contain a lot of information, based on which a reconstruction of society and its contacts with neighbouring ethnic groups such as the Latins, the Etruscans and the Sabines is possible.

Archaeological research at the necropolis of Monte del Bufalo regularly reveals complex burials. The extreme working conditions (sun and drought) sometimes lead to turning a part of a grave into a so-called blocklift (photo). This block truck is further investigated under laboratory conditions. For example, X-rays are taken prior to the mini excavation.

The blocklift in the photo is the top half of a burial of a woman of about 45 years old who was buried around 650 BC. Her age can be deduced, among other things, from wear on the teeth. She received a lot of personal jewellery and also tools associated with weaving. The colour of her teeth is caused by corrosion: metallic copper dissolves from the jewellery and deposits in the enamel of the teeth. The X-rays shows very clearly the metallic grave gifts such as the fibulae (numbers 1,2,3,5,6,7,8 and 9) and also the beads (around number 4). Under the beads around the mouth area of the person you can still faintly recognize the teeth - can you distinguish them?

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 10. 1984 - Unveiling Bronze find in the

GIA canteen

Unveiling Bronze find in the GIA canteen.
Unveiling Bronze find in the GIA canteen.

At the end of November 1984, a plot in the Drouwenerveld (Drouwen, Drenthe province) was plowed deeper than before. An amateur archaeologist searched this field because earlier pottery shards had been found there; he found a number of bronze fragments. He reported this to the provincial archaeologist and after an agreement had been made about the finder's wages, the location was visited, together with GIA staff members. After a first search with a metal detector, the top edge of a pot, with bronze objects in it, was visible from a 2x2 meter test pit. Because it would soon be dark and they did not want to leave the find unattended, the pot + contents were lifted in their entirety and transported to the GIA in a finds chest.

A few days later pot and objects were, in the presence of staff, students and press, carefully unveilded in the canteen of GIA. Also the precise location of the pieces was sketched. The pot turned out to be filled with mainly broken bronze objects (70 pieces), sometimes incomplete. It was probably an amount of bronze that was intended to be melted down for casting new objects.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Kooi, P.B., 1986: Kroniek van opgravingen en vondsten in Drenthe in 1984. NDV 1986, 38 (146)
  • Butler, J.J., 1987: Drouwen: het eind van de Noordse regenboog? NDV 1987, 3 (103) - 50 (150)


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Photo 9. 1957-1958 - Excavation at Anlo

Excavation at Anlo.
Excavation at Anlo.

This photo shows Jan Lanting sr., Trained in archeology by A.E. van Giffen. He carefully prepares a vase from a beaker grave during the excavation of a stockyard / bronze age settlement in Anlo in 1957-1958. He probably wants to take a photo, using a matchbox as a measuring stick.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 8. 2008 - Reconstruction drawing of Midlaren

around 200 AD.

Reconstruction drawing of Midlaren around 200 AD.
Reconstruction drawing of Midlaren around 200 AD.

This is a reconstruction of the settlement on De Bloemert during the late Iron Age (approx. 200 BC), with the Hondsrug on the left and the Hunzedal on the right. Seen from the south.

The process of the reconstruction drawing is extensive and diverse: photographs were taken and the drawer visited the excavation site to get an impression of the surroundings. Subsequently obtained advice from GIA-experts was necessary: interpretation of ground tracks for late Iron Age buildings, ground tracks for agricultural activities, pollen found for impression of agricultural activities and vegetation, spread of building land over the surface, animal bone material for type of fauna. A lot of feedback to experts took place every time after making sketches. Unfortunately an error still occurred: the presence of chickens in the yard is incorrect, because chickens were only introduced by the Romans. This information is processed in a reconstruction - watercolour on paper.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology –
draw. S. Boersma.

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Photo 7. 2020 - Zooarchaeology at GIA

Zooarchaeology at GIA.
Zooarchaeology at GIA.

Zooarchaeology has played an important role since the foundation of the GIA. The thesis of A.E. van Giffen - the founder of the GIA, originally the BAI - was entitled “Die Fauna der Wurten” and shows that research in this discipline goes back more than 100 years in Groningen. In the past 100 years, a zooarchaeological reference collection has been compiled: more than 5000 mammal, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian and shellfish remnants are part of it. Part of this collection is physically attached to a wall - this is part of the collection of vertebrae and ribs.

As part of the Bachelor course "Practical Zooarchaeology", students learn to deal with animal remains from archaeological contexts. In the photo, a Bachelor student is identifying and analyzing some dolphin bones. Identification to species is very important in zooarchaeology because it provides a lot of information about the interaction between humans and animals in the past.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 6. 1933 - Excursion to Ezinge

Excursion to Ezinge.
Excursion to Ezinge.

In april 1933 van Giffen organized a congres for a group of German archaeologists. During a tour through the province of Groningen the excavations in Ezinge were visited. As usual during these gatherings a groupsphoto was made. The group posed for the managers office (a wooden barrack), named Azinga. Tables lend from a local pub were used to display finds from the excavation.

The excavations in Ezinge took place between 1923 and 1934 and because of this length a barrack was placed on the site, for use of van Giffen and his direct staff members. Standard they used a white officer tent which can be seen on the first picture in this series, made during the excavation at the Wierhuizen.

One year later, after the last campaign was completed, the barrack was disassembled and transported to Diever, where it was rebuild on the Heezeberg. It functioned up to 1979 als a holiday home for the van Giffen family.

© Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Groninger Instituut voor Archeologie.

Literature

  • Kooi, P.B. & K. van der Ploeg, 2006: Ezinge, IJkpunt van de archeologie (978-90-367-7403-1).
  • Nieuwhof, A. (ed), 2014: En dan in hun geheel, de vondsten uit de opgravingen in de wierde Ezinge (= Jaarverslagen van de vereniging voor Terpenonderzoek 96); (ISSN 0920-2587, ISBN 978-90-811714-6-5).

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Photo 5. Celtic Fields in Someren - De Hoenderboom,

Brabant

Celtic Fields in Someren - De Hoenderboom, Brabant
Celtic Fields in Someren - De Hoenderboom, Brabant

In 2012 and 2013, the GIA carried out a targeted excavation of a prehistoric agricultural plot or Celtic field in Someren - De Hoenderboom. These are walled fields from the final phase of the Bronze Age. This project was carried out together with the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) as it concerned a protected monument, and with the cooperation of Staatsbosbeheer and the municipality of Someren. In these trenches it was established for the first time that plough traces of an ard plough were preserved in the fields as well as in their banks. This was important evidence for the presumed slow growth of the Celtic field banks. The large grazers that keep the Hoenderboom open today are taking a look at the working pit.

© Pir Hoebe.

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Photo 4. Archaeobotany at GIA

Archaeobotany at GIA.
Archaeobotany at GIA.

The GIA archaeobotany department is located in the Broerstraat 9 building. Archaeobotany is a supportive discipline in which plant remains, found during excavations or coring, are studied. The botanical reference collection built up by GIA staff over the past 100 years, has been used to conduct targeted archaeobotanical research. Part of this collection can be seen in the background of photo 3b. This collection is used to answer questions about what used to be eaten, which plant species are native and exotic, and what kind of climate can be expected based on the plant species found at a site.

Photo 3a shows a page from the Digital Seed Atlas of the Netherlands, which has been compiled from the reference collection. The photo shows fruits from the Asteraceae (Composites) family. Within this family fall ragwort and marigold flowers. These have been found in botanical samples taken in the field. In the second photo, a researcher conducts microscopic research to identify and count plant species. Bottles with water can be seen in the foreground. By adding water to a sample it can be seen whether certain residues float. Also the wet-preserved seeds and fruits remain unchanged in shape.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

Literature

  • Cappers, R.T.J., R.M. Bekker & J.E.A. Jans (2012; 2nd ed.): Digitale zadenatlas van Nederland/Digital seed atlas of the Netherlands. Groningen: Barkhuis & Groningen University Library.

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Photo 3. 1927 - Excursion to Buinen

Excursion to Buinen.
Excursion to Buinen.

In A.E. van Giffen’s career the research of the megalithic tombs in Drenthe are recurrent subjects. Until many years after his retirement in 1955, he carried out excavations and restaurations. In 1927 he excavated megalithic tomb D28 near Buinen. This photo shows an excursion. At the left you can see van Giffen, holding a piece of paper in his hand. The excavation yielded exceptional finds like two beads made out of copper thread. These still are the oldest metal objects in the Netherlands. The beads are part of the collection of the Drents Museum. The excavation photo’s pictures are part of the GIA collection. This is a fine example of the cooperation between provincial museums and a predecessor of GIA, the BAI (Biological Archaeological Institute).

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Photo 2. 2014 - Levelling in Crustumerium, Italy

Levelling in Crustumerium, Italy.
Levelling in Crustumerium, Italy.

An important aspect for every excavation is the precise measurement of the height of a location, track or object. On the photo a measurement is made of a point at the burial mound 'Quilici O' on the pre-Roman excavation Crustumerium in Italy, where the GIA has been excavating since 2006. The vertical measuring rod in the hands of the employee is called a level staff. With the levelling instrument (bottom of photo) you can read the relative height of the point (or object) on which the level staff stands. This measurement is related to a national measuring point.

© Tim Kauling.

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Photo 1. 1917 - Appingedam, de Wierhuizen

Appingedam, de Wierhuizen
Appingedam, de Wierhuizen

In 1916 Jan Evert Scholten bought the remainder of the dwelling mound (wierde or terp) Wierhuizen in Appingedam. Jan Evert was one of the co-founders of the Vere(e)niging voor Terpenonderzoek (1916 - Association for Terp Research), an association that is still active and closely linked to the GIA. The excavation was carried out by a young Albert Egges van Giffen. In 1917 he was assisted in the excavation by 20 interned Belgians. During the First World War, soldiers from countries at war were interned in a neutral country (following the Second Peace Conference of The Hague - 1907). In the terp, remains of houses, farms and graves were found. The rows of posts in the photo were interpreted as “wall houses.” Although later they were re-interpreted as the remains of three-aisled buildings, van Giffen's publications laid the foundations for modern terp research.

© University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology.

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Last modified:14 October 2020 12.27 p.m.
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