M. C. KOSIAN / H. J. T. WEERTS
(Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
Abstract: The location of Dorestad on a high natural levee along a not so active branch of the Rhine in the central Rhine delta was perfect for trade. It was far enough from the coast to be safe from storm floods. The high levee also gave protection from the annual river floods. River connections with the Flemish, French and German hinterland were perfect. Other delta branches ensured safe connections to the Zeeland delta and the open Flemish coast all the way to Dover Straight to the south and to the open Frisian coast all the way to present Southern Denmark in the North. The dangerously closed coast of Holland without any safe shelter places for storms could thus be avoided by ships coming in both from the South and from the North.
Although the branch of the Rhine was not very active in the heydays of Dorestad, the whole river system was very dynamic nonetheless. Excavations at Dorestad show that the harbour works of Dorestad were constantly adapted to the changing river. Archaeological evidence doesn’t give any clues on the active riverbed, and its influence on this early emporium. Combining modern geophysical research with archaeological data not only gives insight in the changing rivers, but also in the reasons why Dorestad could rise to its glory, and the possible reason for its demise. The demise of Dorestad gave room for later river towns as Tiel, Dordrecht and the IJssel cities.
Keywords: multi-disciplinary approach, data integration, urban history, Dorestad, GIS