It has been more than 50 years since the late Prof. Anneke T. Clason published her PhD thesis, Animal and Man in Holland’s Past (Clason 1967), based on animal bone remains excavated at sites in the Province of Holland in the Netherlands. Subsequently, Clason became the leading archaeozoologists (also called a zooarchaeologist – a specialist expert who analyses animal remains from archaeological sites) in the Netherlands, as well as its international face. Since the late 1960’s, her colleagues and students have built a strong tradition of archaeozoology in the Netherlands, producing, interpreting and publishing an enormous amount of data.
However, most archaeozoological data remain difficult to access and/or are scattered in grey literature in Dutch. Syntheses are scarce. The scarcity of overviews hinders efforts to train, strategize, and internationalize this field of study in the Netherlands. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of Clason’s career launch, we wrote this review article to provide an accessible introduction for beginners in and outsiders to Dutch archaeozoology.
As part of this synthesis, we discuss twelve themes that have received the most attention from Dutch archaeozoologists and their predecessors over the past 50 years, bringing together a thorough and extensive overview of the archaeozoology of the Netherlands from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. The themes vary from regional (e.g. archaeozoology of terps (artificial dwelling mounds in the northern part of the Netherlands)) to chronological (e.g. archaeozoology of the Bronze and Iron Ages) to overarching overviews (e.g. extinctions and invasions; see figure 1).
Each thematic section draws data from the most thoroughly studied (e.g. medieval site of Dorestad), interesting and/or best-known sites and assemblages (e.g. Swifterbant culture sites), and offers suggestions for future research directions (e.g. the beginnings of animal domestication and breed improvement). We display the wealth of archaeozoological information, the impact it can have on our understanding of human-animal interactions in the past, and how we can use this data to inform conservation.
Clason, A. 1967. Animal and man in Holland’s past: an investigation of the animal world surrounding man in prehistoric and early historic times in the provinces of North and South Holland. Unpublished thesis (PhD), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
The full paper in Open Quaternary: Çakirlar, C., van den Hurk, Y., van der Jagt, I., van Amerongen, Y., Bakker, J., Breider, R., van Dijk, J., Esser, K., Groot, M., de Jong, T., Kootker, L., Steenhuisen, F., Zeiler, J., van Kolfschoten, T., Prummel, W. and Lauwerier, R., 2019. Animals and People in the Netherlands’ Past: >50 Years of Archaeozoology in the Netherlands. Open Quaternary, 5(1), p.13. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/oq.61