(Netherlands Centre for Dendrochronology, The Netherlands)

Outline: By using the example of Dorestad-De Geer this paper focuses on how re-evaluating and re-analysing old data archives can aid innovative research and improves our understanding of historical sites.

Abstract: At the beginning of this century Dutch archaeological companies under the ‘Valletta Treaty’ considerably increased excavation activities. Facing Dutch archaeologists with the challenging task of analysing and publishing all collected data within the legislated two years after excavating. As a result research data before the year 2000 are often stored and neglected. Estimated for the Netherlands is that of the around 8000 excavations in the last century, over 4000 have never been thoroughly analysed and published. In the last few years numerous projects have been undertaken to improve this situation. These newly available (old) data allow for innovative multi-disciplinary research. This paper aims at presenting the case study of Dorestad to show how surveying and integrating old data archives can lead to new research endeavours and improved understanding of the Early Middle Ages.

One of the main focus points of the ‘Wood use in the Early Middle Ages’ project (WUEM) is researching and re-evaluating the wooden archive of Dorestad. Dorestad was the largest emporia of Northwestern Europe. A flourishing trade centre connecting the North and the Baltic Sea areas with the Rhineland. Dorestad is situated in the centre of the Netherlands near the rivers Rhine and Lek. The site itself has been the subject of continuous research for over thirty years. Making the Dorestad (data) archive extensive and full of new information on this period.

Surveying and integrating these old archives with new data infrastructures like the Digital Collaboratory for Cultural Dendrochronology (DCCD) greatly improves our understanding of complex Early Medieval sites as Dorestad and their surroundings. The first results of such research endeavours which will be presented today are collected for the site ‘Dorestad-De Geer’. In which dendrochronological data is combined with traditional pottery research to refine typology. On a larger scale this data also improves our understanding of amongst other  deforestation, settlement dynamics, trade relations and past climates.

Keywords: Dendrochronolgy, Multi-disciplinary research, Data infrastructures, Old data archives