Impact of Neolithic occupation in the Flemish lowland (2008-2011)

Study of the impact of Neolithic occupation in the sandy lowland of NW Belgium.

Our knowledge of the Neolithic in Belgium, which started around 5300 cal BC at its earliest, differs considerably in between different regions and subphases. As a result of extensive and long-term research the Neolithic occupation of the southern loess area of Belgium is currently well-understood. In contrast, little is known about the introduction of the agro-pastoral way of living in the sandy lowlands of northern Belgium, mainly as a result of the generally bad preservation of sites and a lack of scientific research.

The principal aim of the project was to give Neolithic research in the sandy lowlands a new impetus, with a special focus on the area of Sandy Flanders bordering the North Sea coast. Through the screening of existing databases containing valuable information about surface finds and oblique aerial photos, sites and core regions were selected for further field work, including fieldwalking, augering and trial trenching. Fieldwork was conducted in three core-areas of Sandy Flanders, i.e. the area south of Bruges, the Meetjesland and the Waasland Scheldepolder area. At the end of the project a salvage excavation of a wetland site at Bazel-Kruibeke, situated in the floodplain of the Lower-Scheldt was conducted in collaboration with the Cultural Agency Service of Brussels.

After four years of research the project yielded important new evidence mainly about the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (Swifterbant and Michelsberg Cultures; 5th-start 4th millennium cal BC) and the 3rd millennium cal BC (Deûle-Escaut and Bell Beaker traditions).


  • Crombé Ph. & Sergant J. (2008). Tracing the Neolithic in the lowlands of Belgium: the evidence from Sandy Flanders. In: Fokkens H., Coles B., Van Gijn A., Kleijne J., Ponjee H. & Slappendel C. (eds.), Between Foraging and Farming. An extended broad spectrum of papers presented to Leendert Louwe Kooijmans, Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia 40: 75-84.
  • Crombé Ph. (2008). Contacts et échanges entre chasseurs-cueilleurs et agriculteurs durant le 6ème et 5ème millénaire avant J.C. dans l’ouest de la Belgique. in: L. Burnez-Lanotte, M. Ilett & P. Allard (eds.), Fin des traditions danubiennes dans le Néolithique du Bassin parisien et de la Belgique (5100-4700 BC) ; autour des recherches de Claude Constantin, Mémoires de la Société Préhistorique Française XLIV, 2008, pp. 59-74.
  • Crombé Ph., Sergant J. & Perdaen Y. (2009). The neolithisation of the Belgian lowlands: new evidence from the Scheldt Valley. In: S.B. McCartan, R. Schulting, G. Warren & P. Woodman (eds.), Mesolithic Horizons. Papers presented at the Seventh International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe, Belfast 2005, Oxbow books, Oxford, 2009, pp. 564-569.
  • Crombé Ph., Sergant J. & Lombaert L. (2011). L’occupation du nord-ouest de la Belgique aux IVe et IIIe millénaires : bilan des recherches récentes en région sablonneuse. In : F. Bostyn, E. Martial & I. Praud (eds.), Actes du congrès « Le Néolithique du Nord de la France dans son contexte européen : habitat et économie aux 4ème et 3ème millénaires avant notre ère », Villeneuve d’Asq, 2-3 oktober 2009, Revue Archéologique de Picardie 28, 2011, pp. 103-118.
  • Crombé Ph., Sergant J., Perdaen Y., Meylemans E. & Deforce K. (2015). Neolithic pottery finds at the wetland site of Bazel-Kruibeke (Flanders, Belgium): evidence of long-distance forager-farmer contact during the late 6th and 5th millennium cal BC in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt area. Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 45 : 21-39.


Prof Dr Philippe Crombé

Dr Joris Sergant