Telling Prehistoric Tales
Early April, in just a few weeks’ time*, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) opens its new exhibition “Doggerland”. For this occasion, LeidenGlobal interviewed expert Dr. Luc Amkreutz, curator at the RMO.
Amkreutz studied Archaeology at Leiden University and chose to specialise in prehistory, as that is “the history from here; the local history” he explains. After his studies he got his doctorate for his dissertation on the process of Neolithisation in the Lower Rhine-Area. Since 2008 he’s employed at the RMO, a job he enjoys a lot because of the multiple facets. The museum holds a large collection, does research, and most importantly, transfers knowledge to a broader public. As a curator, Amkreutz’ job is about the content of this transfer. On a daily basis he deals with questions of what story to tell, how to tell it and specially how to get people interested in that particular story. This is also one thing he especially loves about his job: stories from such a long time ago are often still relevant today.
His current story to tell is that of Doggerland: the land that is now the North Sea, is not only Europe’s largest archaeological landscape, but also a very special place. Buried underground beneath the sea, objects were protected from damage by a lack of oxygen and thus preserved well. Amkreutz is studying as well as curating these objects. “Not only weapons made of stone, but also bones, that can be used for DNA research, the oldest Neanderthal and the oldest European footprints have been found in Doggerland” he explains. In 2020 some prehistoric items found at Doggerland were donated to the museum, shown in this film by Amkreutz.
“The upcoming exhibition at RMO is special because it tells the whole story”, he says. From life in deep prehistory to the submerging landscapes of Doggerland; from the Neanderthals to modern humans. And maybe most importantly; the exhibition tells the story of climate change. How did these people adapt to the fast-rising sea levels? What does this teach us on how to deal with our current climate issues?
Lastly, Amkreutz had one more important job: along with the opening of the exhibition an informative book and a children’s book are being launched. It was up to him to ensure the contents of both books held up to the truth. Luc Amkreutz hopes the museum can open its doors again soon, so people can visit this special exhibition, opening the 8th of April.
Interview by LeidenGlobal intern Nikki Schotman (March 2021)
* The exhibition Doggerland is open at Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, until October 31st 2021.
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