Meet the team: Research assistants


Erik completed his B.A. and R.M.A. in archaeology at Leiden university where he specialized in the Late Prehistory of Northwestern Europe and Material Culture Studies.

Within the Economies of Destruction project, Erik contributes to the interpretation, analysis and synthesis of archaeological data resulting from the work of the individual PhDs and Postdocs.

Excursion to Varna

Last Friday, the Leiden Prehistory Department went on an excursion to Dordrecht to visit the exhibition about the famous Varna burials: Het Oudste Goud van der Wereld. Schatten uit Varna. The exhibition started in October 2016 in the Museum in Dordrecht and will continue until April 2017.

It was intriguing to see how the burials of the Bulgarian Copper Age were organized, and how some deceased were treated in a specific way. In the necropolis of the Varna culture on the West coast of the Black Sea, skeletons were found laying on their back as well as in hocker position. Particularly striking is the fact that prestige and gold objects were almost regularly combined with craftwork tools for copper processing. Our whole excursion group gathered around grave 43 for over half an hour and discussed this outstanding grave, in particular the combination and location of objects within the graves, but also missing objects and material.

Further reading:

Het oudste Goud van de Wereld. Schatten uit Varna. Exhibition Catalogue (Dordrecht 2016).

Hermann Parzinger, Die Kinder des Prometheus. Eine Geschichte der Menschheit vor der Erfindung der Schrift (München 2015).

More impressions

EAA Vilnius 2016

The EoD team is back in Leiden after attending the 22nd Annual Meeting of the EAA in Vilnius, Lithuania. The sessions took place at the beautiful old university in Vilnius.
On Saturday 3 September, the session “The selective deposition of metalwork in the Bronze Age: a Pan-European phenomenon?” was held, chaired by Prof. Fontijn. We can look back on a great day filled with insights in selective deposition in all parts of Europe as well as in China. It was fascinating to see how the practice of deposition seems to be so widespread in time and space and that specific depositional patterns reoccur, even with different cultural backgrounds. The project’s PhDs presented a paper/poster on their current research and the session was concluded with an inspiring discussion, in which the need of a database containing all metalwork from Europe was emphasised. We also took the opportunity to visit the archaeological exhibition at the National Museum of Lithuania and to see some of the lovely Old Town of Vilnius.

The visual presentation of Sabrina’s paper about Early Bronze Age depositions in the broader Middle Rhine area can be found here and the talk itself here.

More than swords?

Yesterday, two of the project’s PhDs visited the sword exhibition Vlijmscherp Verleden (Cutting-edge History) at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. The museum has the largest archaeological sword collection in the country, including several of the earliest swords which are of great interest to the EoD project. The exhibition displays a great variety of swords dating from prehistory until recent times and coming from different parts of the world.

The exhibition begins with a chronological overview of swords starting from the earliest weapons. These predecessors of swords include flint and copper daggers. The earliest swords in the Netherlands are the short swords of Sögel-Wohlde type, dating to the Middle Bronze Age. The picture below illustrates the development of swords from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. A Sögel sword can be seen in the upper right corner.


The exhibition also sheds light on the production, use and meaning of swords in prehistory. Starting with acquisition of the raw material (tin and copper) and the production process, to the different usage of the swords (in combat or as status object), and ending with the different ways in which they were treated when they were deposited in wet or dry contexts or in graves (breaking or bending). Especially rivers appeared to have played a special role in these deposition practices as numerous swords have been found in rivers. The picture below shows several elements of the production process of swords.


The highlight of the exhibition – in our opinion – are the “magical swords”, the six swords of the Plougrescant-Ommerschans type. These swords come from France, England and the Netherlands and they are very similar, suggesting that they come from the same workshop. Some of the swords might even come from the same mould. For the first time since they were manufactured 3500 years ago, the swords are reunited. The swords were unsharpened, too large and too heavy for use and do not have any rivet holes; indeed, they were never used in combat. They were deposited in rivers and swamps. Clearly, these swords had a very special significance. The pictures below show these six “magical swords” in the exhibition.

These are just a few examples of the fascinating objects in the exhibition. The exhibition will end 2nd October 2016.

EAA 2016

At this year’s EAA (31 August-4 September) in Vilnius (Lithuania), Prof. David Fontijn will chair the full day session “The selective deposition of metalwork in the Bronze Age: a Pan-European phenomenon?”. The session will take place on Saturday, September 3rd in the Faculty of Philosophy, Room 201 at Vilnius University from 9.00 to 18.30. Two of the project’s PhDs and Prof. Fontijn will give a talk on their current research.

We are looking forward to a very interesting day with speakers from all over the world!

A detailed programme of the session can be found here:
The selective deposition of metalwork in the Bronze Age: a Pan-European phenomenon?


Some Words About Swords

The project’s PhDs Marieke and Sabrina are currently working together with Prof. David Fontijn and network specialist David Schoch on a case study about Early/Middle Bronze Age swords in Northern Europe and the Middle Rhine region.

Right now we are busy collecting data about period IB swords from both graves and depositions, including the objects that were originally combined with the swords. This study will shed light on the practice and significance of the deposition of swords and we hope to share the results with you in the future.

Currently, there is an exhibition at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden about the history of swords, where some of the most spectacular swords from our research region are displayed. Don’t miss it!


Text and pictures by Marieke Visser/Sabrina Autenrieth

Boest: Bronze Age at its best

The EoD-Team participated in this year’s excavation in Boest (Jutland, Denmark) in cooperation with Museum Midtjylland. The exceptional site of Boest includes burial mounds, an alignment and last but not least: depositions. It offers a unique chance to investigate the exact context of these depositions, which include bronze axes, spearheads, flints and golden rings. The current excavation focused on documenting the alignment which consists of five rows of postholes. Surprisingly, traces of three houses were discovered.

We also visited several important archaeological sites in the area, including the find location of the Egtved Girl; the site of Jelling; Horsens Museum, where the first deposition find from Boest is exhibited; Moesgaard Museum; and the National Museum in Copenhagen, where the most recent deposition finds from Boest are displayed. We hope for continued cooperation at the site next year and we would like to thank the excavation team of Museum Midtjylland for letting us experience this fantastic site!

Text and pictures: Marieke Visser/Sabrina Autenieth

Excavation in Denmark – understanding depositions

The EoD-Project is currently cooperating with archaeologists from the Museum Midtjylland in Denmark, who are excavating a fascinating site in Boest (Jutland) with burial mounds, an alignment, house structures and deposited objects. At this location five huge axes from the Bronze Age were found last year (…), deposited together in the ground. Usually, the exact location and context of depositions is unknown, which makes this site so exceptional and interesting for the EoD-team. Together with the partners from the Museum, we will now try to get a bigger picture of this site within the landscape and the practice of deposition.

Image Source:

Article in a Danish newspaper: Excavation in Boest (Jutland/Denmark)

You can find more information about this excavation soon on this website and our facebook page: EoD-facebook

Text by Sabrina Autenrieth

Workshop “On Depositions”

Last Thursday, the EoD-project organised a workshop on Bronze Age depositions.
Prof. dr. Richard Bradley from Reading University was invited to join the discussion with the European Prehistory department of the Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden. Some of the topics we discussed were the diversity of interpretations, the meaning of the landscape in deposition practices, the deposited objects and the destruction of the objects before they were deposited. After an inspiring and enlightening discussion, we finished the day with drinks and a good dinner where Marie-Louise Sørensen (Cambridge University) also joined.
This was the first of two special days for the EoD-team.

Text and pictures by Sabrina Autenrieth