'Pit 100' in Oegstgeest open for archaeologists
The hundredth excavation pit in Oegstgeest was opened on 10 May by Mayor Els Timmers-van Klink and the vice-chairman of the Executive Board, Willem te Beest. Archaeologists are working on creating a soil archive before the traces are erased as a result of construction.
Archaeologist Epko Bult suspects that on the spot where student flats now stand there used to be a settlement of 200-300 inhabitants during the Merovingian era (500 to 800 AD). Bult: ´That is a considerable number. We have already found a dozen large living/stable farms of 20 meters by 7, all facing the Rhine. This indicates the importance of this waterway.´
Pit 100 can be found near Corpus, between the student apartments, where the Bio Science Park will be extended in a few years. It is important for archaeologists to carefully map the soil archive now because the traces will be lost during construction.
Jasper de Bruin is excavation leader and has been an archaeologist for ten years. Under his watchful eye, students with reflective jackets are busy polishing and measuring artefacts. De Bruin displays the result in a plastic bag full of shards. 'Final-year students can graduate on an exhibit from the excavation site,' says third-year student Sabine Lockhorst.
'90% of the pottery shards come from the Eifel and Cologne,' estimates senior archaeologist Bult. He sketches a historical perspective: ´Overdorp, the excavation village, stood on the bank of the Old Rhine, precisely between two barrier beaches. Oegstgeest lies on a barrier beach, which is what the affix 'geest' refers to. Overdorp is an 'upstream village' on a waterway that was important for trade.´
• Facebook page of Oegstgeest excavation (in Dutch)
• A Merovingian settlement on the bank of the Old Rhine (in Dutch)
(29 May 2012/ source Leids Nieuwsblad)