Of Meuse & Man

15 December 2015 until 31 December 2016

Collection of artefacts, found in the Meuse at AlemCollection of artefacts, found in the Meuse at Alem


The exhibition area next to the section on 'the Archaeology of the Netherlands' will be displaying a small exhibition on the archaeology of the Meuse River. Most of the objects on display are from the National Museum of Antiquities' own collection and were dredged up from the river or found on its banks. They illuminate 300,000 years of human life along the Meuse, from prehistoric times up to and including the late Middle Ages.

From Maastricht to the Meuse Plain (Maasvlakte)

The banks of the Meuse River witnessed a long succession of human settlements and uses over thousands of years. These included villages established by the first farmers (see the 'Band' ceramic pottery), Roman villas, Merovingian burial fields, a Viking winter encampment, and mediaeval castles. Ships of different sizes travelled up and down the river, and some of their decayed remains have been found. At Maastricht and Cuijk, there were bridges across the river even in Roman times. The river facilitated trade, and ships full of merchandise were constantly passing by.

The River as a Mirror of the Age

The Meuse was also used for sacrifices. Its meandering course created swampy peripheral zones that were seen in various periods as places where the gods might be contacted. Numerous valuable and significant objects have been retrieved during dredging operations, such as Roman bronze dishes, early mediaeval swords, and a ship's horn. The Meuse is therefore a mirror of the inhabited landscape: it shows us what people did in the river and on its banks in different periods of time down the centuries.