News Articles

Early inhabitants set elaborate fishing traps 4,000 years ago

Archeologists ecstatic over find in Flevoland

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EMMELOORD, the Netherlands - Local archeologists of Flevoland, the province which nearly in its entirety is made up of land reclaimed from the former inland Zuiderzee, recently found more evidence of very early civilization in the area. Elaborate fish traps silted over by layers of loamy clay, suggest that inhibitants already made fishing part of their livelyhood as far back as 4,000 years ago. In an archeological dig two fish traps were found on top of each other with the lower one being significantly older. The work had been commissioned since the land is slated to become an industrial business park.

The dig near Emmeloord laid bare the remainders of wooden poles used to hold up walls of woven willow twigs. Fish which swam into the entrance were ‘guided’ along till they were trapped. The fish traps likely built in suitable creeks of which there were many, are remarkably similar to the more modern variety.

The dig also unearthed a range of tools - fish hooks, flint stones, needles, knifes, daggers, pottery - and bones of fish, otters and bears. In the oxygen-poor layers of clay and peat, the material had been preserved well through the ages. Researchers are ecstatic about the results of the digging. The regional Schokland museum will display the artifacts once they have been treated for preservation.

The Zuiderzee which was renamed IJsselmeer (IJssel Lake) in the 1930s when a dike separated it from the Frisian Sea, had been a flood plain before rising waters levels inundated it, leaving a few populated islands (Marken, Schokland, Urk and Wieringen) to rely on fishing for a livelihood. The evidence now suggests that the area’s population was likely forced to retreat to these ‘hursts’ or higher grounds.

The former sea floor already had revealed other archeological treasures back in the 1950s when researchers combed through some sites. In the 1980s more work was done, setting the stage for the current digging. Elsewhere in Flevoland, near Almere, three fish traps had been found earlier; one trap had numbered as many as 120 poles. Archeologists have been granted extra funding by the government to continue their work which must now be completed by May 2001.