R.G.A.M. Panhuysen / E. Smits
(Amsterdam Archaeological Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Keywords: Demography, funerary archaeology, living conditions, early medieval emporia
Early medieval Dorestad is considered to be a type-site for the Carolingian emporia and it is therefore frequently mentioned in archaeological and historical publications. Its location was known since the middle of the nineteenth century and it has been excavated systematically since the late 1960’s. By now large sections of the settlement have been uncovered and the location of habitation and harbour zones is documented. The available archaeological data indicate that the site was an important centre of exchange and covered a large area. Hitherto, little was known about the nature of habitation. Questions considering the composition of the population and the health situation of the people buried at Dorestad remained unanswered. A backlog program of the Dutch Science Organisation has made resources available to study the cemeteries and human remains of Dorestad. This paper will provide an overview of the four large cemeteries that were excavated in the past 50 years. Although these cemeteries are mainly contemporaneous they differ in organization and burial typology. Based on the research of the burial contexts and the human remains in these graves the paper will focus on the osteoarchaeological analysis of the De Heul cemetery and discuss the composition of this cemetery population in relation to the nature of Dorestad as an early medieval emporium. The De Heul cemetery will be compared to other Carolingian cemeteries in Dorestad and Maastricht. As a result it will be possible to describe in what aspects the population of this emporium differs from other contemporaneous centres of exchange.