Raphaël PANHUYSEN1 | Maarten SEPERS2 | Kim VAN STRATEN3
(1ACASA-Department of Archaeology, Amsterdam University | 2Loes Opgenhaffen | 3Panoptes Heritage, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Keywords: Domburg, burial coffin, Early Medieval, CT scanning, 3D surface documentation
In 1923 the North Sea coast retracted near Domburg leaving traces of an ancient burial exposed. The remains of the grave were recovered by block lifting the wooden bottom of a burial coffin together with human remains embedded in soil on top of the plank. Although the find is curated in the collection of antiquities of the province of Zeeland, it has never been studied in detail. Only recently the initiators, Letty ten Harkel, Robert van Dierendonck and Pieterjan Deckers, of the Investigating the Early Medieval Dead from Domburg project have focused their attention on these remains. Within the framework of this project several burial contexts from the early medieval period from Domburg are being examined. The project combines a wide range of methods starting with traditional archaeological methods and including various dating techniques and element analyses.
Since the grave was salvaged in 1923 it represents one of the oldest graves found in Zeeland. Because it is also a suitable object to illustrate the early medieval history of the province it was decided to study this object mainly in a non-destructive way. For this reason, a protocol was designed combining a 3D scan of the surface of the preserved remains with a CT scan. This protocol is aimed at documenting the wooden plank, which is supposed to be a reused fragment of a ship and analysing the human remains. In order to determine the sex and age of the person buried in the grave the bones would normally have to be lifted from the soil adhering to the wooden board. Doing so would result in a complete dismantling of this historical object. The combination of CT scanning and 3D surface documentation will allow us to analyse the remaining skeletal elements in detail and provide the necessary physical anthropological and palaeopathological data. This paper describes the details of the applied techniques and the results of the osteoarchaeological examination. Further it will discuss the advantages and limitations of non-destructive analysis of special archaeological objects.