The Archaeological Collection
The archaeological collection of Ghent University contains many unique objects that are regularly travelling to temporary exhibitions
The museum is open on request for both researchers and students, as well as for the general public. Entrance is free on special days like Heritage Day, or the Night of University Museums. Contact .
The archaeological collections are closely linked to the history of the university. At the foundation of Ghent University in 1817, collections were already formed for natural history, zoology, mineralogy, anatomy and archaeology. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries unique collections of prehistoric, Gallo-Roman and medieval finds from the former area of the County of Flanders (e.g. collection De Bast) were left to the university. This was partly due to King William I, who also provided the Museum with an impressive eighteenth century model in cork of the Pantheon, created by the Italian architect Antonio Chichi.
Other important early collections that were acquired are those of Colonel Bernard Rottiers (Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman objects), Count de Renesse-Breidbach (bronze, glass and ceramic finds from Gallo-Roman necropoleis in the Rhine/Moselle region), the brothers Siret (metal, ceramic and bone objects from the early Bronze Age in Spanish El Argar), and from early twentieth century river dredging in the Scheldt, the Lys and the Dender, and the digging of the docks of Port Arthur in Ghent.
We also need to mention the important additions to the collection by a former curator of the museum, Joseph Maertens, with archaeological objects from North Africa, Italy, France and Belgium, including fine Merovingian, medieval and post-medieval objects (jewellery, weapons, metal furniture, crockery, glass, construction ceramics, etc.) from Ghent or several Flemish cities and municipalities.
After World War II, many foreign missions directed by professors of archaeology at Ghent University in e.g. Iran, Greece, the U.A.Emirates, Siberia, Italy, Tunisia, Portugal, became core projects within the archaeological research of the University but because of the ban on export of archaeological pieces the archaeological collections did not expand with finds from abroad. Research projects in Belgium, however, much enriched the collections now, such as excavations in Hofstade near Aalst (Gallo-Roman sanctuary), Blicquy near Ath (Gallo-Roman necropolis), Destelbergen (late Bronze Age necropolis and Gallo-Roman settlement), Sint-Gillis-Waas / Kemzeke (mound Middle Bronze Age, Iron Age settlement), Verrebroek (Mesolithic settlement), Maldegem (Roman military camp), Evergem / Kluizendok (various periods).
At present preparations are underway to present the collections, as well as current research projects and the very multidisciplinary methods used in archaeology today, in the new Ghent University Museum.