Fokke A. Gerritsen

Winner Dissertation Prize 2003

Local Identities. Landscape and community in the late prehistoric Meuse-Demer-Scheldt region

Supervisors: Prof. dr N.G.A.M. Roymans, Prof. dr J.H.F. Bloemers
Nomination: Free University Amsterdam, Faculty of Arts

Report by the selection committee

This book is an archaeological study into the way of life of men living on the Brabant sandy soil in the first millennium B.C. The central thesis regards the relation between identity and landscape, and argues that households and local communities define themselves as social groups by their contacts with the landscape they live in. This contact implies that the landscape is furnished with more or less permanent elements like dwelling places, settlements, burial grounds, fields and cult places. From an archaeological point of view these are well known. This makes it possible to gain insight into the forming of identity and perception of the landscape in prehistory. The study is based on a large number of excavation reports. During this long period of thousand years first a strong communal way of life is apparent in a concentration of habitation and burial rituals in urn fields. New forms of habitation and more individual burial customs can be found after ca 400 B.C. The relation between man and landscape is given as much attention as the social stratification and the cultural dimension. The author comes to the important conclusion that already in the first century B.C., that is before the Roman occupation, a considerable social change took place. This was concluded from the presence, in the region under study, of coins and artifacts originating from the Rhineland.