Change and continuity in rural settlement in Drenthe from the Neolithic onwards: a reconsideration of traditional and current opinions


  • O.H. Harsema


Recent approaches to the problem of prehistoric culture change in the Netherlands show a strong preference for explanations in terms of internal processes rather than external influences. Migration has become a rather suspect concept, and autonomous development is strongly favoured. Continuity is a key concept and continuity of occupation is often supposed to imply ethnic continuity.

Migrations are a well-known historical phenomenon, however, and in the Netherlands too quite a number of migrations and colonizations, generally over short distances, occurred in later prehistoric and early historic times.

The application of the concept of mobility should not be restricted to the repeated shifts of the villages within their territories. It equally applies to interregional migrations, e.g. from the Pleistocene refuge areas to the coastal and riverine environments (and in the reverse direction). These have been rather numerous and the process of regional interaction deserves more attention. Ethnic changes in the population will have been more frequent than nowadays is admitted, burdened as the concept is with an emotional load.