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vrijdag 29 november 2013

Snapshots of history

An old area means a historic area. For at least 115,000 years humanoids walk the same paths as I do today, here in the immediate surroundings. Just a few steps from my threshold is a metal knot anchored in the ground; engraved in it are three names: Riemst, Lanaken, Maastricht. That’s where the borders of these three towns cross each other. This is also the place where so many historic paths cross. The knot is situated in the middle of a 2,000 year old and still existing Roman pave-way; the original cobble stones come to the surface at places. Not much is left, just a minor track of the ones mighty main road from Colonia (Germany) over Maastricht (NL) and Tongeren (B) to the French Atlantic coast. Thousands must have walked this way, and still, 2,000 years later, I can still follow their footsteps into even much older history.

Along the road to Veldwezelt (B), a village belonging to the town Lanaken, is an archeological site; still visible in the valley of the former Heser water, a side-arm of the river Meuse. The creek is long gone, just a few ponds left as silent witnesses of the ancient supply route for the Neanderthal people who lived here 115,000 till 30,000 years ago. Loads of artifacts where found here; showing how intense this area was used by humanoids, and this for such a long period in time. I found a flintstone scraper used by these people that is probably older than our species walk the earth.

The ground on which my home is build is soaked with blood; countless battles were fought here, and not all in ancient times. The two bridges (Vroenhoven and Veldwezelt) crossing the Albert canal, were targets not so long ago. People that are still among us were there while it happened. During the early days of WWII British bombers tried to destroy the bridges as an attempt to stop the German army of entering Belgium, and pilots lost their lives. They failed because the Germans were still too strong at that time.

This was also the case for William of Orange when he tried to throw the Spaniards out the southern parts of the Netherlands. The duke of Alva and his army awaited him on the Dousberg, a hill formed by the same Heser water where the Neanderthal people did benefit from. Higher ground and William didn’t trust to attack, but in stead he had to flee all the way to France just to safe himself.

Napoleon fought here and won, no wonder that already the Romans saw how important this area is; is it still a shame that so much blood had to flow because too many and different people wanted to rule the Limburgian hills; a peaceful area today even when a rich series of landmarks tell another story.

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