A Neolithic backwater? Dutch developments in the 4th millennium BC

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


One of the defining elements of the European Neolithic is certainly the occurrence of enclosures: zones delimited from their surroundings by means of ditches, banks and palisades. Intriguingly, enclosures are typical for this prehistoric period but not found everywhere. Apparently, these monuments do not characterise all societies in this period. This paper focuses on one of the areas without evidence of Neolithic earthwork architecture: the Netherlands. As such, it may be used as a filter to separate the ‘general meaningful behaviour’ of the communities from those actions typical for the earthen monuments. To this end, the archaeological record of the earthen monuments is divided into behaviour related to human burial rites, delimiting space and meaningful depositions.
If we take all lines of evidence together, it becomes clear that the types of burial rituals and (other) meaningful depositions in the enclosures are not defining elements of these societies. Similar activities occurred in the enclosure-free environment of the Dutch Neolithic. The most striking difference remains the enclosures themselves. Which role did these localities fulfil in society? Why did these communities along the southern North Sea coast haved no use for this role? The answers to these questions should be found in continued effort to understand the activities within the enclosures excluding the impressive evidence for ritual behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSalzmünde - Regel oder Ausnahme? / Salzmünde - rule or exception?
Subtitle of host publicationInternationale Tagung vom 18. bis 20. Oktober 2012 in Halle (Saale)
EditorsHarald Meller, Susanne Friedrich
Place of PublicationHalle (Saale)
PublisherLandesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archaologie Sachsen-Anhalt
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9783944507118
Publication statusPublished - 1-Feb-2018

Publication series


Cite this