Drowning landscapes along the Scheldt. Threat or opportunity? (2017-2020)

Drowning landscapes along the Scheldt. Threat or opportunity? Shifting prehistoric land-use along changing waterways during the Early and Middle Holocene

During the last two decades, large scale infrastructure works along the Lower Scheldt river, in particular in the Waasland Scheldt polders (NW-Belgium), have revealed deeply buried and well preserved prehistoric landscapes and archaeological sites from the end of the last ice age about 11000 years ago until the arrival of the first farmers about 6500 years ago. The combination of the paleolandscape and archaeological data retrieved from these locations provides a unique image of the intimate relationship between man and his environment as well as the impact of rising sea and ground water levels on both vegetation and humans. Early Holocene tributaries will be charted to reconsider the Scheldt fluvial history. Paleogeographic maps at key time frames of cultural transitions in the archaeological record, climatic and or environmental changes will be created to investigate this relationship in much more detail than has been done so far. This will be obtained by integrating spatial as well as absolute and relative chronological data from natural sediments and archaeological records in a quantitative manner. These maps will be combined with fossil pollen data from organic sediments to create maps of probable vegetation scenarios through time. All data will be used to investigate changing landscape resource exploitation strategies by hunter-gatherers and early farmer-herders. - Funding: FWO17/PDO/103

Current paleogeographic map of the study region during the Late Glacial-Early Holocene (adapted from Missiaen et al. 2016)


Dr. Jeroen Verhegge

Prof. Dr. Philippe Crombé

Prof. Dr. Stephen Louwye, department of geology