Prehistoric bones under the X-ray scanner

Taking pictures using mobile x-ray equipment of the prehistoric tombTaking pictures using mobile x-ray equipment of the prehistoric tomb
Remains cast in gypsumRemains cast in gypsum
Remains cast in gypsumRemains cast in gypsum
Remains cast in gypsumRemains cast in gypsum

Monday, 24 November, the Special Investigations division of the National Police Corps took pictures using mobile x-ray equipment of a prehistoric tomb in the National Museum of Antiquities. The 4500-year-old discovery contains bone fragments probably from two people. That is extraordinary in the Netherlands because usually little is left of old bones because of the acidic sandy soil. Using x-rays, the remains cast in gypsum can be studied more closely without risking damage.

Grave from 1907

The grave was found in 1907 in the Veluwe near Niersen by archaeologist J.H. Holwerda, then curator and later director of the National Museum of Antiquities. By casting his discovery in gypsum, he could safely store semi-deteriorated bones and transport them to Leiden. After studying the x-rays, archaeologists hope to better understand how bodies were buried in prehistory and whether there are other objects in the gypsum clump.

  • More information on the 'Niersen grave' is available at Ancestral Mounds, a website for research into grave mounds by the University of Leiden, in cooperation with the National Museum of Antiquities (in Dutch)