Trijntje: the oldest grave ever found in the Netherlands

In 1997, the skeleton of a woman was found during an archaeological research near Hardinxveld-Giessendam, the Netherlands. Investigations have shown that the woman, baptized Trijntje, probably lived around 7500 BC as part of a group of nomadic hunters-gatherers. It is the oldest skeleton ever found in the Netherlands.

Our Dutch and Hungarian archaeologists and anthropologists have prepared Trijntje remains to the new presentation Canon of Dutch History of the Holland Open Air Museum, Arnheim.

On the place where Trijntje was found, today a double-track freight line (Betuwelijn) passes. Her name is a reference to the trains. (Trijntje deriving from the Ancient Greek “Aikaterī́nē ‎(Αἰκατερῑ́νη)” is linked to “Hekátē (Ἑκάτη)” ancient goddess associated among others, with crossroads.) According to another reading, the prehistoric woman was named after a woman called Trijntje who lived near the site.

Research has shown that Trijntje must have been about fifty years old when she died. At the position of her pelvis archaeologists deduced that she must have given birth at least to one child in her life. Trijntje was in relatively good health. However, her teeth show noticeable signs of wear, probably from eating raw food or because they processed animal skins by the teeth. She was 1.58 m tall.

Archeologists have found Trijntje lied flat on her back, in a pit. Little pieces of red ocher were found near her skull, put there maybe as a kind of grave gift.

Trijntje probably lived in a community of several families at a nearby donk, a sort of river dune. The remains found there like ducks, geese, swans, herons and coots demonstrate that the inhabitants must have hunted a lot. According to archaeologists, the fact that Trijntje was buried near the donk shows that the settlement was used as a sort of base camp.

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