Antwerp and Brussels one to two centuries older?

Antwerp and Brussels could be one or two centuries older than originally thought. Microscopic research into the cities' so-called "black layers" revealed that Antwerp had human activity before the year 900. In Brussels, traces of agriculture and cattle farming were found from before the 13th century.
James Arthur Photography

Researchers Barbora Wouters (VUB) and Yannick Devos (ULB) have examined the black layers of both cities. These layers are situated in the dark soil levels near a city's oldest remains.

Normally, archaeologists search with spades and brushes, but Wouters and Devos used a more subtle manner, using a microscope. This showed traces of habitation or human activity before the first city walls were erected, mainly agricultural activities before the area turned into a city.

For Antwerp, this is before 900. Wouters assumes that 9th- and 10th-century Antwerp was in contact with the Vikings. Devos focused on Brussels, and also discovered traces of farming and cattle keeping from before the city walls were built.