Van Bataafse auxiliarii naar Frankische foederati | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 53, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



In the Late Roman period the Batavians disappeared from the written sources, and archaeologically speaking, nearly all rural settlements and cities of the Southern Netherlands ceased to exist, alongside the civilian centres. There is no good explanation for this depopulation but slight hints point to the population’s deportation. In the early 5th century several settlements were inhabited again. Judging by the style of the house plans, the pottery and jewelry, the inhabitants came from the area north of the Rhine. Ubiquitous gold finds in the same area imply that they were paid by the Roman government. They are called Franks in the written sources and most likely served as when regular Roman troops left in 401/402.

Migration has always been a thorny issue in archaeology: based on ethnic interpretation of artefacts, arrows were drawn on maps, but theoretical objections silenced this approach, at least in theoretically-oriented archaeology. Migration can further be researched by new scientific methods (aDNA and isotope analysis of human remains); the results for the Roman period are not yet spectacular. More is expected from the analysis of settlement complexes by various methods: a) provenancing pottery by geochemical and mineralogical analysis, b) combined with stylistic study; c) isotopic analysis of associated animal bones, to see whether the animals were brought on the hoof over long distances; d) stylistic analysis of the house plan, and e) plotting the circulation area of the metal jewelry. This combination can ascertain whether the inhabitants of settlements were migrants originally and how quick they adapted to their new environment.


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