3. Pottery assemblages from Ezinge, Midlaren-De Bloemert and the Feddersen Wierde
Ezinge thus played an important role in the discussion on the occupation history of the 4th century, despite the fact that the actual excavation results have only been published in a preliminary form (Van Giffen 1926; 1928; 1931; 1936; De Langen & Waterbolk 1989; Waterbolk 1991). It is therefore interesting to draw the new evidence from the Ezinge pottery research into the discussion and to compare this pottery assemblage to the pottery from contemporaneous settlements. Comparable pottery assemblages are only available from settlements outside the terp region of the northern Netherlands. Two of these have been selected: Midlaren-De Bloemert and the Feddersen Wierde. The short descriptions below will explain the reasons for their selection, and outline the differences in the size of pottery assemblages and their representativity.
3.1 Ezingenext section
The terp of Ezinge had attracted the attention of Van Giffen in 1923, during commercial quarrying of the fertile terp soil. During the following years, Van Giffen and his assistants documented sections and carried out small excavations while quarrying continued. Between 1931 and 1934, Van Giffen managed to organize a large-scale excavation in Ezinge. One eighth (2 ha) of the terp was entirely excavated in 22 levels. The excavation attracted much international attention because of the modern excavation technique and the well-preserved organic remains, especially the many impressive remains of large, 3-aisled farmhouses. Ezinge must have been a relatively large village settlement. If we take the number of houses recognized by De Langen and Waterbolk in the excavated part of the terp as a lead (De Langen & Waterbolk 1989; Waterbolk 1991), the village varied between c. 5 and 20 houses.
Handmade pottery is the most sizeable find category in Ezinge with almost 20.000 pots and potsherds (1025 kg) from the entire habitation period between 500 BC and AD 1500. The (compared to modern terp excavations) large percentage of rims and complete pots (as many as 223 complete archaeological profiles) shows that pottery was probably collected selectively.
3.2 Midlaren-De Bloemert
Midlaren-De Bloemert is located c. 25 km from Ezinge in the Pleistocene sand area of northern Drenthe. The pottery assemblage of this settlement was studied by the author (Nieuwhof 2008a), making the results easily comparable to those from Ezinge. Moreover, apart from the fabrics, the pottery from this area strongly resembles the pottery of the Groningen terp region (Taayke 1996, II; III).
Midlaren-De Bloemert was excavated in 1969 and between 2003 and 2005 (Nicolay 2008a). The settlement was excavated almost complete, an area of 4.8 ha, in one level. It was a small settlement, with only one house at a time in the middle and late pre-Roman Iron Age, growing to two or three houses at most in the Roman Iron Age and diminishing to only one house per generation from the 4th century onwards (Nicolay 2008b, 215). In the vicinity, two small cemeteries with graves from the Migration Period, possibly belonging to this settlement, were found. The first was already discovered in 1856. The other was excavated as part of the settlement excavation (Tuin 2008).
The finds of handmade pottery from the settlement comprise 54.000 sherds (717 kg) from all occupation periods between the middle pre-Roman Iron Age and the late Middle Ages. This number includes a very small number of pots from the cemetery excavated by Tuin (2008). The cremation urns that were found in the second nearby cemetery (figs. 12 and 13) have previously been published by Pleyte (1882, 49-51, Pl. LVII and LVIII), by Tischler (1956, Abb. 43 and 44) and recently by Lanting & Van der Plicht (2010, 142-143).
3.3 Feddersen Wierde
The well-known terp settlement of Feddersen Wierde is located at a distance of over 150 km to the east of Ezinge and Midlaren-De Bloemert on the coast of Niedersachsen, in what might be called the Saxon home area. That makes it in an interesting settlement for comparison. The pottery from the Feddersen Wierde has fully been published (Schmid 2006). Although it was not collected per feature but per grid square of 5 x 5 m, the results are presented in a form that makes them comparable to the results from Ezinge and Midlaren-De Bloemert.
The Feddersen Wierde was fully excavated between 1955 and 1963 (Haarnagel 1979). It was a large settlement, with c. ten simultaneous farmhouses in the 1st century AD to over 25 farmhouses in the 3rd century AD. Habitation started in the 1st century BC; it ended in the course of the 5th century AD. The number of potsherds is not mentioned by Schmid, but from the numbers mentioned in his figures, a number of at least 12000 pottery individuals from the entire habitation period can be calculated.