Dolmen D54, also known as the Emmen dolmen, is one of the largest and best-preserved dolmens in the Netherlands. It is located near the city of Emmen in the province of Drenthe and is believed to be over 5,000 years old, dating back to the Funnel beaker culture of the Neolithic period.
The dolmen dolmen consists of ten upright stones, or orthostats, which support four capstones. The entire structure is approximately 22 meters long and 4 meters wide, making it one of the largest dolmens in the country. The capstones, which weigh several tons each, were transported from as far as 20 kilometers away and placed on top of the upright stones to create a roofed burial chamber.
The Emmen dolmen was excavated in the 19th century and the remains of 20 individuals were found in the burial chamber, along with several artifacts such as pottery, flint knives, and arrowheads. It is believed that the dolmen was used as a communal burial site for a small agricultural community.
The construction of dolmens like D54 required a significant amount of engineering skill and organization. The builders would have had to transport the massive stones from quarries located miles away, using primitive tools and techniques. They would have also had to create a level surface for the dolmen, as well as a ramp to transport the heavy stones.
The Funnel beaker culture, who built the dolmens, were an early farming society who lived in the region during the Neolithic period. They were skilled farmers who lived in small communities, growing crops such as wheat and barley and raising domesticated animals like cattle and pigs. Their distinctive pottery, which has a funnel-like shape, gives the culture its name.
The dolmens were used as communal burial sites for the Funnel beaker people. The bodies of the deceased were placed in the burial chamber, along with offerings such as pottery, flint knives, and arrowheads. It is thought that the bodies were left to decompose before the bones were removed and placed in the side chambers of the dolmen.
The dolmens were in use for several hundred years before falling out of use. It is thought that changes in burial customs, such as cremation, led to the decline of the dolmens.
In the centuries that followed, the dolmens were largely forgotten and were used for other purposes, such as sources of building material for local construction projects. It was not until the 19th century that the dolmens were recognized as important archaeological sites.
Today, the dolmens are protected as national monuments and are popular tourist attractions. Visitors can explore the burial chambers and learn about the history and culture of the Funnel beaker people.
The Emmen dolmen is located in a park-like setting, surrounded by walking trails and other recreational opportunities. The domen can be accessed year-round and there is no admission fee.
In recent years, there have been concerns about the preservation of the dolmens. Vandalism and theft of stones have been reported, and the increasing popularity of the sites has led to overcrowding and damage. Efforts are being made to address these issues and to protect these important cultural landmarks for future generations.