Cooking Pot

This cooking pot was discovered in 1994 during an archaeological investigation in the hamlet Vogelzang, south of Maastricht in the Netherlands. This site showed a considerable quantity of flint tools and potshards discovered in a ten-by-ten-meter zone. During the examination of these, it was found that around ten entire pots could be reassembled from the pieces (Centre Céramique, 2007).

3D model of the Cooking Pot

This particular pot underwent extensive restoration work to preserve its, which has allowed us to still be able to admire it today.

This object belongs to the following theme:



Place of Origin
Vogelzang, South Maastricht,
The Netherlands

Time Period of Use (ca.)
4000 BCE

Quartz, Flint, Sand

Dimensions (cm)
diameter: 23.5, length: 18

3D Model

Canon EOS 6D Mark II, EF24-105mm
f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (55mm)

Processing software
Agisoft Metashape Professional Edition

Yi Liu, Edo Zoons &
Stephanie Kandathiparambil

Puzzling the pieces


Let’s take a journey back in time to the Late Neolithic era, around 4350-3540 BC. In the southern reaches of the Netherlands, near the bustling city of Maastricht, lies an archaeological site called Vogelzang (Centre Céramique, 2007). This site is part of the Michelsberg culture, a prehistoric society that thrived in select regions of central and western Europe during this period (Beau et al., 2017, Kreuz et al., 2014).

Maastricht – Vogelzang site 

While exploring the site, we discover compelling evidence of human activity, indicating that the settlement at Vogelzang was most likely a self-sustaining community of farmers who practiced both animal husbandry and agriculture. By analyzing the botanical remains found at the Maastricht-Vogelzang site, we gain insight into their dietary habits and survival strategies, revealing a mixed economy of foraging and farming that included domesticated cereals like wheat and barley, legumes such as peas and lentils, as well as wild plants (Bakel, 2008).  Additionally, the analysis found evidence of the use of plants for medicinal and ritual purposes, including species with psychoactive properties like henbane and belladonna. Moreover, evidence suggests that the Michelsberg people may have relied on slash-and-burn agriculture, a cultivation method involving land clearing for planting, which may have resulted in soil degradation and other environmental consequences for the surrounding region (Bakels, 2008).

Demonstration of burning fields on the expirimental growing site Forchtenberg, Germany (Kreuz, 2012)

But who were this people? 

Recent genetic analysis of ancient DNA samples from 42 individuals from Michelsberg culture burial sites in France, Germany, and the Czech Republic reveals that the Michelsberg farmers had a western European origin, with genetic similarities to individuals from present-day Belgium and France (Beau et al., 2017).

Geographic locations of considered sites linked to Michelsberg culture (Beau et al., 2017).

The Michelsberg culture takes its name from the Michelsberg hill in Germany, where the first excavations were conducted in the early 20th century.  The Michelsberg culture is renowned for its large, fortified settlements, known as “mega sites,” which were surrounded by ramparts and ditches. These mega sites likely had both defensive and symbolic functions and were part of a wider system of social and economic organization (Kreuz et al., 2014).

Michelsberg and other cultures and their domains in Late Neolithic Europe (Hofmann, 2019)

Other Michelsberg sites

One such mega site is located at Maastricht-Klinkers, a fortified settlement from the late Neolithic era. The site served multiple purposes, including serving as a center for craft production, a trading center and a religious center (Schreurs, 1992). Excavations at the site uncovered evidence of craft production, such as pottery, flint tools, and bone tools. The site was also a center for long-distance trade, with exotic raw materials like amber and jet present in the soil. It even had a religious function, one indicated by a large megalithic structure and evidence of ritual activities (Schreurs, 1992). 

Number of features investigated archeobotanically mapped per Michelsberg site (Bakel, 2008).

Another significant Michelsberg culture site was discovered in Kortrijk, Belgium, where a well-preserved domed oven was found. This unique discovery is the only known intact Michelsberg culture oven that has not been disturbed by later activity, giving us insight into the technological capabilities of the Michelsberg culture (Teetaert et al., 2019).

Further analysis of plant remains from the Michelsberg culture site at Heilbronn-Klingenberg in southwest Germany identified several crops that were cultivated at the site, including emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, lentils, peas, and flax (Stika, 1996).

Despite the mysteries that still surround the Michelsberg culture, these archaeological finds provide us with a glimpse into their lives and the sophisticated social and economic structures in Michelsbergs culture. 


Despite the fact that there is still much unknown about Michelsberg pottery, it has played a crucial role in gaining insight into the culture. What we know is that the pottery was often of significant quality yet for the most part undecorated unlike for example typical Roman pottery (Schreurs, 1992) and it was used for storing or prepping food besides other possible uses like general storage, gifting or spiritual uses (Stika, 1996). 

Cooking Pot

Coming back, this particular pot was likely a misfire, which means baking the pot was not entirely successful. Again, although this pot was found to be a cooking pot, the general use of pots in Michelsberg culture is surprisingly unclear. The few discovered pottery remains most often seemed to have been buried, which suggests they could have also been of spiritual importance.


Coming to the end of our journey back in time to the Late Neolithic era and the remarkable archaeological site of Vogelzang, we find ourselves both amazed and intrigued by the Michelsberg culture. They were people who lived with a deep connection to the land, and their agricultural practices were unparalleled in their sophistication and efficiency. Their pottery, although largely undecorated, was a testament to their skill and artistry, and the mystery surrounding its use only adds to its allure.

The study of history allows us to connect with our ancestors, understand their challenges and triumphs, and learn from their experiences, especially in a challenging time like this, where the heritage can be destroyed by climate change (Westesteijn, 2020). In doing so, we allow ourselves to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

Written by Edo Zoons & Stephanie Kandathiparambil