dr. S. (Stijn) Heeren

Stijn Heeren
  • Telephone:+31 20 59 87281
  • Room nr:14a-00
  • E-mail:s.heeren@vu.nl
  • Unit:fac. der geesteswetenschappen (gesch/oudh/k&c)
  • Position:Postdoctoral researcher Archaeology and Prehistory

Current employment

Postdoctoral researcher (April 2012 – December 2015) within the NWO-FWO funded research programme "Decline and fall? Social and cultural dynamics in the Low Countries in the Late Roman period (AD 270-450)", together with Gent University, Belgium.

Past employment

Postdoctoral researcher (December 2009 – March 2012) within the NWO-funded Odyssee project, a backlog operation aimed at disclosing important excavations of the 20th century. In this programme, I was part of the team "Dorestad Vicus Famosus" that studied and published parts of the excavation around Wijk bij Duurstede, former emporium Dorestad, and also published on the Merovingian cemetery of Wijchen.

PhD (December 2003- January 2009) within the  NWO-funded programme The Malta Harvest: Integration of rural populations in the Roman Empire. Cum laude degree in September 2009. Promotor: prof.dr. N. Roymans

Office hours: 2 days a week

Research interests

Archaeology of rural habitation in the Dutch river area in the Late Iron Age, Roman period and Early Middle Ages. My research focuses on

  • settlement analysis
  • mortuary rituals
  • material culture
  • the Late Roman period

Current Research


The research programme "Decline and fall? Social and cultural dynamics in the Low Countries in the Late Roman period (AD 270-450)" focuses on a new synthesis of settlement dynamics in the Low Countries in the Late Roman period. Until a few years ago, hardly any sites of this period were known in the Low Countries, and the few sites that had been excavated, remained unpublished. After the Odyssee programme (see below), more sites of the 3rd to 5th centuries were published, and together with new finds and excavations, a whole new set of sources became available. Together with Gent Universitity (Belgium), the new sources are studied, with the aim to provide an innovative picture of the period, going beyond the old negative picture that became known as 'decline and fall of the Roman Empire' after the famous book of Edward Gibbon.


Within the research project ‘Dorestad Vicus Famosus’, part of a backlog-programme aimed at publishing old excavations, it is my task to investigate and publish the site of Wijk bij Duurstede-De Geer. This site was inhabited from the 2nd until the 9th century continuously, and is vital for the understanding of the early development of Dorestad, the most important trading place in the early Middle Ages, called Vicus Famosus by contemporary sources. Dorestad itself developed from the 7th century onwards, but very close by, the De Geer site was inhabited since the 2nd century and of some importance in the Late Roman period, although the character of the site is yet unknown. In the heyday of Carolingian Dorestad, De Geer was still inhabited and possibly a site of importance, judging by large enclosures present there. By studying this important site we hope to shed light on the early development of Dorestad and on the Dorestad region in the 9th century.


  • Master course 'Batavians at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire' (together with prof. dr. N. Roymans)
  • Bachelor course 'The story of an excavation' (together with dr. J. Aarts)




  • Aarts, J.G. & S. Heeren, in press (summer 2014): Buried Batavians. Mortuary rituals of a rural frontier community, in J. Weekes / J. Pearce (eds.), Death as a Process. Proceedings of the session mortuary archaeology on the Roman Archaeology Conference 2006, Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • Heeren, S., 2014: The material culture of small rural settlements in the Batavian area: a case study on discrepant experience, creolisation, Romanisation or globalisation?, in: H. Platts, J. Pearce, C. Barron, J. Lundock & J. Yoo (eds.), TRAC 2013. Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Kings College London, Oxford (Oxbow Books), 159-173.
  • Heeren, S., 2009: Romanisering van rurale gemeenschappen in de civitas Batavorum: de casus Tiel-Passewaaij, Amersfoort (Nederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 36). Proefschrift Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.
  • Driessen, M./S.Heeren/J. Hendriks/F. Kemmers/R. Visser (eds.), 2009: TRAC 2008. Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Amsterdam 2008, Oxbow Books, Oxford.
  • Heeren, S., 2009: New views on the forfex of Virilis the veterinarian: shears, emasculator or twitch? Journal of the Archaeology of the Low Countries 1-1, 87-95.
  • Groot, M/S. Heeren/L. Kooistra/W. Vos, 2009: Surplus production for the market? The agrarian economy in the non-villa landscapes of Lower Germany, Journal of Roman Archaeology 22, 231-252.
  • Heeren, S, 2005: De verlating van het Maas-Demer-Scheldegebied in de 3de eeuw na Chr., in E. van Rossenberg/J. Hendriks/A. Bright/ D. Smal (red.), SOJA-bundel 2002-2003, Leiden/Amsterdam, 53-67.
  • Roymans, N./S. Heeren, 2004: L'archéologie des habitats ruraux romains aux Pays-Bas. Bilan de cent années de recherches, Revue du Nord 86 (nr. 358), 19-35. 

Site reports:

  • Heeren, S. et al. (red.), in press (fall 2014): Wijk bij Duurstede-De Geer in de Romeinse tijd en vroege middeleeuwen. De voorgeschiedenis van Dorestad, Amersfoort (Nederlandse Archeologische Rapporten).
  • Heeren, S/J.G. Aarts, 2011: Opgravingen bij Tiel-Passewaaij 2: het centrale grafveld uit de Romeinse tijd, Amsterdam (Zuidnederlandse Archeologische Rapporten).
  • Heeren, S. 2008:  'Sporen en Structuren' (met P.Hoff en T.Derks), 'Boringen' en 'Munten', in Derks, T/J. Van Kerckhove/P. Hoff, 2008: Nieuw archeologisch onderzoek rond de Grote Kerk van Elst, gemeente Overbetuwe (2002-2003), Amsterdam (Zuidnederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 31), 29-59, 59-63, 82-91, bijlagen 2, 5-12.
  • Heeren, S., 2006: Opgravingen bij Tiel-Passewaaij 1: de nederzetting aan de Passewaaijse Hogeweg, Amsterdam (Zuidnederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 29).

Popular archaeology:

  • Heeren, S., 2014: De vindplaats Maren-Kessel/Lith: van heiligdom naar legerkamp. Centrale plaatsen langs de Maas van de late ijzertijd tot in de laat-Romeinse periode, in R. Jansen (red.), De archeologische schatkamer Maaskant. Bewoning van het Noordoost-Brabantse rivierengebied tussen 3000 v. en 1500 n.chr., Leiden: Sidestone, 253-268.
  • Den Hartog, M./S. Heeren, 2008: Een oud-centurio tussen de koeien. Romanisering in de Bataafse gemeenschap Tiel-Passewaaij, Westerheem 57/2, 49-61.
  • Roymans, N/T. Derks/S. Heeren (red), 2007: Een Bataafse gemeenschap in de wereld van het Romeinse rijk. Opgravingen bij Tiel-Passewaaij, Utrecht: Matrijs.

Extensive list of publications

Other activities

Also employed as lecturer in Roman Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam

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