Historical finding

More than 11.000 years ago, near ‘De Mildert’ (a neighbourhood unit of ‘Nederweert (Nl)’), a large, magnificent red deer saunters about. He is 10 years old, in the prime of his life. Mating season is approaching. The deer has travelled all the way from the swamp forests in the north-west to this region. Here, the does gather in large group. Our proud friend will do his utmost best to claim as many of the does as his, as will be possible. He looks around and sees a creek. It is ideal to quench his thirst. On a holm in the middle of the creek, a beaver is gnawing on a tree. On the bank the deer finds some tracks of wild boars, who have been burrowing here. He checks the surroundings, but the boars are long gone.  All he can see is a group of wild horses, calmly grazing on the other side of the creek.

The banks of the creek are peaty. He is standing at an old bayou of the creek, long since disconnected from its parent. Suddenly he hears a sound behind him. As he turns around, he sees people approaching, some carrying spears, other bows and arrows. Then, a sharp pain shoots through his body. He falls over, head first, on the calcium rich soil…

Historic find

This is what could have happened to the deer living near ‘De Mildert’. For archaeologists, this is an exciting find, since it is one of the oldest intact animal skeletons found in the Netherlands. Most of the time, the bones are not so well preserved. The circumstances for preservation happens are very strict.  In this case, the skeleton was found in an area where water couldn’t reach it, and away from oxygen. Also the calcium rich soil has contributed to the conservation of the bones.
Archaeologists have found the remains of two red deer. Furthermore, they found bones of aurochs, horses, boars and roes. The bones of the aurochs as well as the red deer show distinct traces of human activity (hunting). It is known that common hunting weapons in that time were spears and bows or traps. The hunter-gatherers hunted animals to use their skin for clothing, the meat for food, the canines as amulets and the bones to create tools.
This special find from the Stone Age was part of an excavation near the ‘Tungelroysebeek (Nl)’. The red deer found is an ancestor of our current red deer, like the ones that now live in the ‘Weerterbos’ (Nl).  The animals from the Stone age would grow to twice the size of our current red deer. In the same location, archaeologists also found remains of other animals as well as inorganic material like spear points and splinters. This makes the area near ‘De Mildert’ a genuine archaeological treasure chest.
Scientists of, amongst others, the ‘Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed’ (Cultural Heritage) dated the finding at around 9000 before Christ. It is an important piece in the puzzle that tells us the history or the earlier inhabitants of the Netherlands. It is almost certain that the red deer fell victim to hunters. This proves that the inhabitants of Limburg were hunter-gatherers: aboriginals that lived near the creek valleys, since there was an abundance of fish and wildlife there.
Archaeologists assume that the area near ‘De Mildert’ used to be a natural ecoduct for animals and humans for centuries. Especially the other findings (spear points, splinters, animal remains) are proof of this. It is even possible that there was a bridge in the area. This has not been researched, since the archaeologists want to preserve the area as much as possible.
‘De Mildert’ is not the only area near the ‘Tungelroysebeek’ (Nl) where remains from ancient times have been found. A few years ago, in a first phase of the excavations, in ‘Tungelroy’ (Nl) an old Roman Bridge has been found, this year they discovered amongst others an old milk can near ‘Neer’ (Nl) and in ‘Heythuysen (Nl)’, they are currently restoring a burial mount.
The find of the red deer couldn’t be more actual, since lately, red deer have been released in the ‘Weerterbos (Nl)’, in order to restore the original ecosystem