Index Dutch Bronze Age
Index first farmers in the Netherlands
Prehistoric (wo)men had many skills en solutions for everyday-problems. The purpose of this report is to share this knowledge with everybody who is interested.
Overview:Building: how to split thin wood for a wattling wall
Building: how to wattle a wall of a farm
Building: how to close the wattled wall with loam
Cooking: how to bake a salmon in an open fire
How to make tar from birchwood
These skills were practised during the building of a Late Iron Age farm (see photo) in the Historic Open Air Museum in Eindhoven, May 2005.
Goal: to make wide, flexible willow stakes for a wattling wall
Material: flexible willow branches without side-branches and leafs, but which may be thick, an axe or cleaver, maybe a chisel, a chopping-block. Willow branches become flexible when they have been lying in water for 1 or 2 nights. But not for weeks because then they will rot. Work with 2 or 3 persons.
Method: Start by making an indentation in the broad part of the
branch, but chop vertically, not horizontally! Continue chopping, until the
fingers can be placed between the parts.
The splitted branch can sometimes be devided into 4 pieces which then gives 4 stakes out of one branch.
Watch out for: splinters in your hands, a wrong use of the axe and cleaver, pinched fingers.
Goal: to make a solid and smooth wall which can hold loam on both sides.
Material: Use flexible willow stakes, that are possibly split into 2 or 4, a cleaver, an axe,a strong pole of about 10 cm diameter.
Method: The flexible willow stakes should be wattled between the poles
of a wall. The thick ends must be placed alternating from the left and from the
right. THe wattling can continue when the stake brakes but holds. When the stake
sticks out too much, the axe can chop off a piece. When the stake is too long,
it can be shortened.
Watch out for: Wrong use of axe and cleaver, splinters, pinched fingers.
Goal: To make a solid, isolating wall for a farm.
Material: Loam (some kind of sandy clay), baskets with short straws, jars with water, leader flaps.
Method: After wattling the wall (see above), it should be covered with
loam, mixed with straw. Remove hard pieces out of the loam. The loam may contain
small pieces of clay.
Watch out for: pieces of wall that suddenly fall down, sharp objects in the loam, hands that become too dry because the loam dries out the skin.
Goal: To eat a delicious salmon.
Material: A cleaned salmon or 2 pieces of salmon fillet, moist loam, large sorrel leafs, lemon balm, sage, salt, a big fire, thin willow branches or willow bark, a leader flap, a wooden stick and a ceramic plate.
Method: Make a big fire, make about 6 large "slices" of loam, wash
the hands, place the large sorrel leafs on a ceramic plate, place the salmon on
them. put the lemon balm or sage and salt in/on the salmon, wrap the salmon in
the sorrel leafs, put the thin willow branches or willow bark around the leafs
and put the loam around the packet. Let the loam dry a bit at the fire so the
packet is easy to handle.
Watch out for: burns, poisonous smoke, too raw salmon (bake it on hot stones if necessary)
Goal: To win tar, which can be used as glue, as a medicine, and as a method to make leather water-proof.
Material: Birch bark, 2 jars: 1 small and 1 large with cover and also with small holes in the bottom, loam or clay which has been mixed with lots of sand, wood, a shovel.
Method: Take the thin bark of the birch, place it in the large jar.
Dig a round pit of about 2 m.diameter and about 1,50 m. deep.
Watch out for: burns and poisonous smoke
Preparation to cast bronze (1): A small pit has been digged and covered with stones
Preparation to cast bronze (2): 3 bellows lie towards the pit and will be covered with clay or loam. The center of the pit contains a small crucible. The nozzle of the right bellows is made of wet, red clay. The clay had to dry first (ideally: 2 weeks), such that the casting was delayed.
Largely copper, Bronze Age ornaments, made by the archaeologists of Biskupin.
Various objects, made by the archaeologists of Biskupin, such as Roman oil lamps (below left).