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Data Frisian mounds compiled in new concordance

Book guides archaeologist with their research

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HARLINGEN, the Netherlands - A Dutch archaeologist has published a concordance on the subject of mounds, the places where the local populace fled when (seasonal) tides covered the floodplain of pre-dike Frisia. The book catalogues these mounds, their (former) locations, the references to them in old documents, and the artifacts that have been discovered at these historic sites.

Tineke Volkers provides with her book 'De concordantie op de terpenboeken' an orderly overview of this fascinating subject. These mounds fulfilled a very important role in early Frisian history. Historians, who previously were hampered in their study of old records when they were faced with archaic descriptions now only need to consult Volkers' book to find answers. The concordance is all the more important since so many of these mounds - the earliest population centres - have been leveled over the past few hundred years.

War-time documentation

Recent archaeological discoveries on a few of these sites have provided new interest in early Frisian history. While archaeological research and digging has been going on for decades, it were recent discoveries of very rare items, some considered foreign to the region, that have generated much publicity and new support for this work (causing a provincial budget cut to be delayed, for example). The discovery of ancient Roman pottery in the mound Tjitsma in Wijnaldum some years ago, got Volkers involved in this work when she was asked to date some pottery fragments.

While doing her research for the concordance, Volkers stumbled upon the work of archaeologist Halbertsma who completed an extensive survey on mounds during the war years. No one was aware of the existence of this document which had been sponsored by the Nazi-run 'Kultuurkamer.'

The northern Dutch mounds allowed people to reside on the floodplain of Frisia hundreds of years before dikes were built as a protection against high tides and floods. Archaeological research has revealed that the level of many of the mounds was substantially raised over the centuries.

Volkers intends to publish another major reference work on the subject but objects to having to finance it again from her own resources.