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​​We use the objects from the archeology collection to tell stories about people from the past. This helps us understand the past, but also our place in the present.

From impressive mammoth bones to unique Neanderthal finds, coins, jewellery and utensils. You will find them all in our archaeology collection.

And to think that in 1854, this collection still fitted into one cupboard! That cupboard was in the Provincial Museum of Antiquities in the Provincial Building. When Professor Van Griffen took office in 1916, the collection received a major boost. He starts researching and excavating Drenthe's archaeological treasures for the province of Drenthe. The objects are placed in the Provincial Museum, which later becomes the Drents Museum. The result is one of the most important archaeological collections in Northern Europe.

View of Drenthe and the world

With the objects in the archaeological collection we tell stories about people from the past. About their daily lives and religion, their relationship with each other and the landscape. How did the dolmen builders commemorate? Who were the burial mounds made for? How did people learn to live with the changing landscape and climate? In this way we can learn to understand not only the distant past, but also our place in current society and the future. How do we commemorate when a loved one dies? Who are your heroes? And how do we treat the earth? The archeology collection not only gives you a view of Drenthe, but also of the world.

Archaeological top collection

For example, the hand axe from Anderen tells the story of the time when Neanderthals lived in Drenthe (c. 130,000-35,000 BC). Finds from the Drenthe dolmens (3500-3300 BC) provide us with answers to the question of how the first farmers lived and buried their loved ones. The grave goods from the burial mound in Drouwen tell us more about the status differences in the Bronze Age (c. 2000-800 BC). 

The many bog finds from the Iron Age, including the Yde girl, provide insight into the prehistoric religious world (c. 750-12 BC). And the gold treasures of Beilen, Zeegse and Nietap from the Roman period (12 BC-450 AD) show that people in Drenthe also had contacts far beyond the region. The rich attire of the early medieval Princess of Zweeloo is another good example. 

The archaeological collection also contains several medieval objects (c. 450-1500 AD). They provide insight into daily life and tell more about important events, such as the battle between the bishop of Utrecht and the viscount of Coevorden.

What makes our collection so special are in particular the many objects made of fragile organic material from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman era and the Middle Ages. Top items include the oldest boat in the world from Pesse and the oldest wooden wheels in Western Europe.

In our collection

The Yde Girl
Pesse canoe, the oldest boat in the world
The oldest metal found in the Netherlands: copper spiral
Jewellery from the Princess of Zweeloo: Bronze bracelet and rings
Hand axe of Anderen
Coin treasure from Roswinkel
Grave goods of the hero of Drouwen: Flint arrowheads
Wheel from Ubbena
String of beads from Exloo
Coin treasure from Beilen
Golden ring with filigree decoration and inlaid with garnet stone

Archaeology exhibitions

The Drents Museum brings unique archaeological collections of cultures from all over the world to Assen. Just think of such crowd-pullers as The Terracotta Army of Xi'an (2008), Gold from Georgia (2010), Iran – Cradle of Civilisation (2018) and Under the spell of Ararat – Treasures from Ancient Armenia (2022). Conversely, we also regularly loan objects from our collection for temporary or travelling exhibitions at home and abroad. For example, a number of bog bodies from our collection travelled to America and Japan as part of the exhibition Mummies of the World.

Now till 26 January 2025

Dacia – Empire of gold and silver

More than fifty gold and silver treasures from Romania from the 20th century BC to the 3rd century AD are coming to Assen.