Project team

Verhagen1_tcm10-318381Philip Verhagen, principal investigator

I graduated in Physical Geography at VU University Amsterdam in 1989, and have worked in commercial archaeology from 1992-2008 as a specialist in GIS and archaeological computing with Dutch archaeological firms RAAP (1992-2005) and ACVU-HBS (2005-2008). From 1992 to 1998 I participated in the European Union-funded Archaeomedes and Rio Aguas projects, doing geo-database management and spatial analysis for a number of study areas in France (Rhône Valley) and Spain (Vera Basin). Both projects analyzed the long term development of settlement and land use dynamics, for which GIS proved to be a powerful and efficient tool. From the mid-1990s on I have actively participated in the development of predictive modelling for archaeological heritage management in the Netherlands. This eventually resulted in the publication of my PhD thesis, completed at Leiden University in 2007. In this thesis I explored and developed a number of methods and techniques for building and testing predictive models.From around 2001, I have also worked on issues concerning the reliability of archaeological survey techniques for detecting archaeological sites, especially core sampling and (more recently) trial trenching. This research has resulted in national guidelines for optimal survey strategies in Dutch archaeological heritage management.

From 2009-2012, I have worked at VU University doing a post-doctoral research project on predictive modelling (VENI grant awarded by NWO, the Dutch National Science Foundation), for which I developed a new methodology to derive relevant socio-cultural factors for predictive modelling from environmental and archaeological (settlement) data, in particular parameters concerning visibility, accessibility and social memory, and by analyzing the surroundings of settlements rather than just their position in the landscape.

This line of research will be continued in the current project, where we will develop scenarios of cultural landscape development using different theoretical perspectives and focusing on the interaction of natural, economic and socio-cultural factors.

My publications can be found at

Mark Groenhuijzen, PhD researcher

In 2013 I gained my MSc in Earth Sciences at VU University Amsterdam, specializing in Landscape Archaeology. My primary interests are in landscape reconstruction and human-landscape interactions, and researching those through the application of spatial analysis tools.

My task is to develop a detailed palaeogeographic reconstruction for the Dutch limes area based on the already existing extensive geological, geomorphological, pedological, geographical and archaeological datasets. This will subsequently be used in a site location analysis, investigating the relation of sites with the landscape and the interrelationship between sites. A further aspect of my research will be the analysis of possible transport networks using the palaeogeographical and archaeological datasets.

The research results will be combined to perform a detailed landscape reconstruction, including the spatial mapping of possible production zones of agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry, from which models for subsistence activities and demographic change can be developed.

Jamie Joyce, PhD researcher

Between 2008-2012, I studied at the University of Durham, UK, graduating with a BA in Ancient History and Archaeology, and an MSc in Archaeological Science. During my master’s studies, I expanded on existing knowledge and interest in archaeobotany. My master’s dissertation detailed the plant based economy of Binchester Roman Fort, Bishop Auckland, UK, including aspects such as diet reconstruction, crop provenance, fuel use, and human-environment interaction. Included in this study was a significant analysis of charred Calluna vulgaris (L.) hull fragments which revealed a possible long-term environmental impact on moorland in North East Britain originating from mitigation strategies undertaken by the occupying Roman forces in an environment with scarce fuel.

Whilst the use of archaeobotany to investigate agricultural economy and ancient diet is certainly my primary passion, further research interests include other disciplines within bioarchaeological approaches, such as zooarchaeology. In addition, I have a keen interest in the role of taphonomic influences on the archaeobotanical record, having previously undertaken experimental investigations regarding the deposition Corylus avellana L. (hazel) nut shell, an almost ubiquitous foodstuff during the Mesolithic of Northern Europe, in the Western Isles, Scotland.

Since March 2013, I have been undertaking research within the project concerning the economic reconstruction of the limes zone. This entails evaluation and analysis of the archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological and settlement plans of the region in order to gain insight into the functional aspects of the settlements and their role within the economic framework of the limes zone. Various models will be produced to construct agricultural systems of the region on a site, sub-regional and regional level. In addition, a combination of historical, experimental, archaeological and ethnographic studies will be used to detail the requirements, yields and thus the available surplus of region on a similar 3-tiered basis. These yields, surplus and requirements are not limited to agricultural produce but will include wood, both as fuel and as a construction medium, with the latter often being overlooked, despite its likely environmental impact. GIS spatial analysis will be used to elucidate understanding of the location and distribution of centres of production, consumption and transport. These sub-studies will thus form the framework for modeling the relationship between consumer and producer in the region. Naturally, an integration of ecologic and geographic studies within the economic analysis is essential, ensuring the creation of a truly multi-disciplinary body of work.


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