Archaeological experiments

Conducting and facilitating archaeological experiments is a growing part of my work. I am not a specialist in one specific skill, but over the past 20 years I have become proficient in a wide variety of skills. I can advise on practical aspects of scientific experiments, conduct experiments alone or as part of a team or simply provide replicas and materials.

Because of my skill set and my experience with stone age technology in the field, I can provide insight in the various ways a certain result can be obtained and in the interrelationship of technologies.

Over the years I have worked with various scientists:

  • Prof. A.L. van Gijn of the University of Leiden: hundreds of experiments to produce microwear on artifacts of stone, bone, skin, fibres, wood, pottery and antler. Archery experiments. Neolithic house building experiments. Dugout canoe building.
  • Prof. dr. N. Milner and dr. A. Little of University of York (U.K.): experiments on artefacts from Star Carr from stone, bone, antler and wood. In 2016 I was offered a position as Research Associate at the University of York.
  • Prof. Dr. C. Hofman and dr. M. Hoogland of the University of Leiden: Caribbean house building and shell axe making experiments.
  • Dr. C. Van Driel of the University of Leiden: tanning experiments.
  • Dr. F. Braadbaart of the University of Leiden: tar and pitch making experiments.
  • Drs. C. Vermeer and K. Hänninen of Biax: experiments with woodworking and toolmarks on wood.
  • Drs. N.Bottema-Mac Gillavry: basketry experiments with clematis
  • Dr. G. Langejans of the University of Leiden: experiments with adhesives and tanning methods in Mesolithic South Africa. Tar making experiments
  • Dr. K. Wentink of the University of Leiden: experiments with Neolithic battle axes.
  • Drs. G. Nobles of the University of Groningen: skin boat building experiment.


In some cases the experiments mentioned above have led to some form of publication. I mention only those to which I have contributed as author:

  • Kozowyk, P., Soressi, M., Pomstra, D. and Langejans, G., 2017: Experimental methods for the Palaeolithic dry distillation of birch bark: implications for the origin and development of Neandertal adhesive technology, in Nature, Scientific Reports, published online on 31st of August 2017
  • Bottema—Mac Gillivray, N., Pomstra, D. And Van der Laan, J.,2017: Een mandje van bosrank, of hoe een paar takjes de fantasie kunnen prikkelen, Paleo-palfenier, Rijksuniveristeit Groningen, pp. 133-140.
  • Van Gijn, A.L. and Pomstra, D., 2016, ‘Huize Horsterwold’, the reconstruction of a Neolithic houseplan using Stone Age equipment, in Hurcombe, L. and Cunningham, P, The life Cycle of Structures in Experimental Archaeology. Sidestone Press, Leiden, 2016
  • Little A, Elliott B, Conneller C, Pomstra D, Evans AA, Fitton LC, et al. (2016) Technological Analysis of the World’s Earliest Shamanic Costume: A Multi-Scalar, Experimental Study of a Red Deer Headdress from the Early Holocene Site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire, UK. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0152136. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152136
  • Robson, H. and others, 2016: Scales of analysis: Evidence of fish and fish processing at Star Carr, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.02.009
  • Pomstra, D., Van Gijn, A.L., Wolterbeek, L., Verbaas, A, Stikkelorum, T., 2015: Sticks and Bones will build my Boat: making a dugout canoe with Mesolithic tools, in Bulletin of Primitive Technology, fall 2015 p.
  • Lammers-Keijsers, Y., Verbaas, A, Van Gijn, A.L. and Pomstra., D., 2014: Arrowheads without traces: Not used, perfect hit or excessive hafting material? In Marreiros, J., Bicho, N. and Gibaja, J.F. (eds.), International Conference on Use-Wear Analysis, Use-Wear 2012, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 457-466
  • Pomstra, D. and Meijer, R., 2013: Bast, vuur en stenen: experimentele productie van berkenpek zonder vuurvaste containers, Archeologie 14 p.117
  • Pomstra, D. and Van Gijn, A.L., 2013: The reconstruction of a Neolithic house: combining primitive technology and science, Bulletin of Primitive Technology, spring 2013. No. 45. P. 45.
  • van Grunsven, T, and Pomstra, D., 2011, Krabers, slagkringen en kapotte ribben. Een experiment van de werkgroep vuursteen, Bulletin voor Archeologische Experimenten en Educatie, vol. 16, issue 2-3, Leiden, VAEE, pp. 4-12, 10/2011.
  • Meijer, R. and Pomstra, D., 2011: The production of birch pitch with hunter-gatherer technology: a possibility, in Both, F (red.) Experimentelle Archäologie in Europa, Bilanz 2011,Oldenburg: Isensee Verlag
  • Pomstra, D. , 2011: A quick way to make Mesolithic archery tackle, Bulletin of Primitive Technology, fall 2011, nr. 42. P. 67
  • Pomstra, D. and Meijer, R., 2010: The production of birch pitch, Bulletin of Primitive Technology, fall 2010, nr. 40. P.69
  • Pomstra, D., 2007: An axe from a boar’s tooth, Bulletin of Primitive Technology, spring 2007, nr. 33. P. 48.
  • Pomstra,D., 2006: Tame hunter gatherers and wild food, Bulletin of Primitive Technology, spring 2006, nr. 31. P. 50.


In their turn, publications lead to papers:

  • 2016, Colonial St. Williamsburg U.S.A., Rearc Conference. Experiments on the recreation of the headdress of Star Carr.
  • 2016, Buitendag Biologisch Archeologisch Platform. Een boomstamkano en gereedschap van steen, been en gewei.
  • 2013, Schiele Museum, U.S.A., Rearc Conference. Birch tar, really old glue.
  • 2013, Schiele Museum, U.S.A., Rearc Conference. Another Housebuilding project… with something extra.
  • 2013, Universiteit Leiden, Steentijddag. Huize Horsterwold, een reconstructie van een steentijdhuis in de Flevopolder.
  • 2010, Universiteit Leiden, Steentijddag. De productie van berkenpek zonder containers.