Lost tributaries of the Scheldt: reconstructing the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer river landscape of the Waasland polders

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2019
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Archaeology of the Low countries or Belgium
    • Geoarchaeology
    • Landscape archaeology
    • Prehistoric archaeology
the Scheldt river landscape
Project description

During the last two decades, large infrastructure works along the Lower Scheldt river, in particular in
the Waasland Scheldt polders (NW-Belgium), have revealed deeply buried and well-preserved
prehistoric landscapes and archaeological sites from the end of the last ice age about 11.000 years
ago until the arrival of the first farmers about 6500 years ago. The combination of the
paleolandscape and archaeological data retrieved from these locations provides a unique image of
the intimate relationship between humans and the river environment. In this project, hidden Early
Holocene tributaries of the Scheldt will be mapped by pushing a novel sensor into the ground, which
registers mechanical and electrical soil properties as well as video images. Core sampling will check
data interpretations and provide radiocarbon dates of organic remains in these tributaries to
reconsider the Scheldt fluvial history. Paleogeographic maps at key time frames of cultural
transitions in the archaeological record, climatic and or environmental changes will be created to
investigate the human-riverscape relationship in much more detail than has been done so far. This
will be obtained by integrating spatial as well as absolute and relative chronological data from
natural sediments and archaeological records in a quantitative manner. All data will be used to
investigate changing landscape resource exploitation strategies by hunter-gatherers and early