Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
This site is dedicated to my experiences in Bronze Age living history.
The Bronze Age is the first time in prehistory, in which the use of metal
in tools became common, and lasted from approximately 2000 to 800 BC. The
bronze age receives very little attention, especially in my country, the
Netherlands. So here's my contribution to bringing this period under attention,
and hopefully awaken an appreciation for our ancestors from this time period.
Few people realize just how much traces there actually are of the bronze age in the Netherlands. This is probably mostly because hardly anything is visible on the surface. However, the ground is filled with traces of farming communities, burial sites, trackways etc. And from this period we also have our own "Otzi", the man of Emmer-Erfscheidenveen. He was found in a bog, with enough clothing to give a reasonably accurate picture of what people would have looked like in this period.
Our region was relatively poor in terms of metals, as the only way to get it was by trade over see or land with for example areas that are now England, Germany or France. Still a good number of interesting finds have been done. And since the bronze objects come from many different directions, including some of our own productions, there's a great variety in the objects that are found. Of course the finds aren't limited to just bronze objects, as many other objects as pottery, tools of flint, bone, horn, wood have been found. These objects, together with all kinds of traces in the ground of for example houses, are our window to this time period. Not a single word was written, so a lot of things are shrouded in mystery, like for example the religion(s) they had. We only know that it involved many elements from nature, like for example the sun and the bogs where sacrifices were done etc..
All this evidence, added by finds in neighbouring regions to fill up some gaps, is the basis on which I try to create a picture of what the bronze age was like. Mind that I'm not an archeologist though, although I study as much as possible to make sure that I get as accurate as possible. This I do in "Archeon", which is a living history park in Alphen a/d Rijn, the Netherlands. In Archeon there are reconstructions of houses dating from the middle and new stoneage, bronzeage, iron age, roman and medieval times. The people working in Archeon, along with volunteers, show what the people looked like in this periods, and perform some of the crafts from these periods, in which some are very skilful. This is a unique way to get into contact with the past, by seeing it being performed as it was, in contrary to musea that only show the objects. It's like stepping into a time machine and taking a look into different periods in time.
I work there as volunteer in the weekends, trying to remaster the ancient crafts, with bronze casting as my main focus. It keeps amazing me how much they could accomplish with very simple means. These people must have had an incredible ability to improvise and a huge amount of knowledge and skill in how to use the elements in their environment. The more I'm involved, the more that appreciation grows.
In the subpages, accessible through the menu on top of the page (if you don't see a menu, click here), you'll find examples of the things I made or am still making, with information on how it's done, and pictures of various stages of construction. Hopefully this will give more insight into what's actually involved into the production of these objects. And perhaps it will also give other people involved in living history/experimental archeology ideas which can result into new discoveries to reveal some of the mysteries of the Bronze Age.