(Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences /Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Amersfoort, The Netherlands)

Keywords: Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Early Middle Ages, Roman Period, Historical Infrastructure, Route Networks

The early-medieval Netherlands witnessed major changes in landscape, economy, demography and also possibly climate. Archaeological evidence throughout north-western Europe, including the Netherlands, indicates severe demographic decline and changing settlement patterns in the late-Roman and post-Roman periods. To what extent the inhabitants of the early-medieval Lowlands adapted to the increasingly changing landscapes and how this is reflected in large-scale patterns is generally unknown. Trading and communication routes will have changed in these periods, but are difficult to reconstruct.
Since no maps of these periods are known in the Netherlands, and archaeological finds related to infrastructure rare, a different approach is needed to reconstruct, predict and analyse Roman and early-medieval infrastructure. We developed a network-friction model (NFM) which allows us to locate landscape obstacles and corridors for potential translocation in low-elevated areas, such as the Netherlands. By surveying available archaeological data on: burial grounds, demography, infrastructure, isolated finds, settlements and ships we were able to combine network friction with archaeology and reconstruct zones containing potential routes. Results show that this approach correctly models over 80% of the infrastructural finds and is very useful approach for reconstructing (and predicting) route networks in in low-elevated areas, such as the Netherlands.