The First Farmers

8 September until 25 November 2012

Detail of the model of the Linear Pottery village of ‘Elsweiler’Detail of the model of the Linear Pottery village of ‘Elsweiler’
X-ray fluorescence measurements performed on a fragment of pottery by a researcher at the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE)X-ray fluorescence measurements performed on a fragment of pottery by a researcher at the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE)
Linear Pottery (photo © Piet van de Velde)Linear Pottery (photo © Piet van de Velde)

New research on the Linear Pottery Culture in the Netherlands

The First Farmers is a small exhibition about the first agricultural communities in the Netherlands, the Linear Pottery Culture. These communities were essentially the birthplace of present-day Dutch society. A new generation of scientists examines ‘forgotten’ excavation results from fourteen archaeological sites in the research project Odyssey, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. This exhibition displays the first results, a remarkable model, and some masterpieces of the Linear Pottery Culture.

Small exhibition: research, discoveries, and model

This modest-sized exhibition presents some research findings relating to matters such as the structure of the settlements and specialist research on pottery and flint. In addition, you will see, for instance, the oldest photograph of Linear Pottery in the Netherlands, and the puzzling discovery of an enormous pit near the settlement of Maastricht-Klinkers will be discussed. At the centre of the exhibition will be a large model of the Linear Pottery village of ‘Elsweiler’. The model is based on archaeological research relating to the settlement of Elsloo and a neighbouring settlement in Germany. It gives a good picture of everyday life in one of the oldest villages within the territory of the Netherlands.

First farming culture around 5300 B.C.

The Linear Pottery Culture takes its name from the linear bands used to decorate pottery in this period. This culture spread across large parts of Europe. Around 5300 B.C. the first settlements arose in the fertile loess area of South Limburg. In this region, the Linear Pottery Culture represents the first society in which people settled in one place. They cultivated the land, kept livestock, and built large farmhouses. This ushered in a new era: an age in which the environment could be shaped by human effort, and nature could be controlled.

Research by the National Museum of Antiquities and Archol

The present research is being conducted by the National Museum of Antiquities and Archol, the excavation company that is connected to the University of Leiden. They are conducting this research in collaboration with a range of other partners (the municipality of Maastricht, the University of Leiden, the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) and amateur archaeologists).The Odyssey research aims to subject the settlements, houses and archaeological finds to renewed analysis and to interpret them in the light of our present-day knowledge. In pursuing this path, the project is building on a rich tradition of research is carried out by the National Museum of Antiquities and later by the University of Leiden. 

Research on forgotten archaeological sites

The 'forgotten archaeological research projects’ were carried out between 1925 and 2001. They laid foundations that are still important today for scientific studies of this early farming society. Fourteen archaeological sites that have been forgotten, or whose finds have been only partly researched and published, were re-examined in the new Odyssey research project, yielding new information about habitation history, the use of pottery, and raw materials networks. This enables us to gain a more comprehensive picture of the first farmers in the Netherlands.