Terp Excavation in the Netherlands
Before the first sea dykes were constructed in the twelfth or thirteenth century CE, the coastal area of the Northern Netherlands was dominated by extensive salt-marsh. Habitation in this unstable maritime landscape was concentrated on relatively high ridges, often along tidal gullies. Because such ridges were still subject to flooding several times a year, people had constructed artificial dwelling mounds or terps (in Dutch: terpen or wierden) from the first colonization of the salt-marsh area in seventh century BCE. They started with one or more small house platforms, which were gradually raised and extended with layers of sods, dung, and trash. The present-day terps, often still clearly visible in the flat landscape, represent the final phase of their development. Although being constructed for a different reason and in a different landscape, terps can be compared to tellsin the Eastern Mediterranean, also comprising many overlapping habitation layers that may cover a...
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