Universiteit Leiden

nl en

New murals depict archaeological profiles of Dutch soil

On September 5, at the festive opening of the Faculty Year, a range of new murals will be officially presented in the Van Steenis’ Reuvens Hall. The wall paintings reflect a variety of Dutch soil stratigraphies, from Oss to burial mounds. Aside from being a striking new addition to our Faculty building, the murals will also serve a purpose in education.


As part of their training, students in Archaeology learn how to measure and draw layers of soil. In the past years, these stratigraphic profiles were drawn on rolls of wallpaper by the course’s teacher, Eric Dullaart. ‘I drew lines on them with a marker,’ Dullaart explains, ‘and then let students draw over them to teach them to draw to scale. For years I messed around with wallpaper, plastering sheets of paper all over the building.’

At some point Dullaart was done with this. ‘We got beautiful walls, why not paint them? So I proposed the plan for murals to the board. It got quickly rejected, since it was too expensive. Then Communications and the Secretary of the Board got to collaborate, and we managed to rewrite the plan so it would both improve the building’s appearance, as well as serve its purpose in education.’

One of the Reuvens Hall's pillars feature an archaeological well.


Dullaart placed a job advertisement, looking for a painter to create the murals. Since the topic is quite niche, not just any painter would have been able to take this assignment on. ‘The painter who I finally selected was Remco van Hoek, an artist who has made large murals of natural scenes, like those of the Biesbosch.’

The stratigraphies seen on the murals are based on actual archaeological contexts. ‘The painting of the burial mound is grounded on drawings from our archive, while the large profile in the long corridor is from Oss. Remco van Hoek visited our Field School in Oss, and got that from there.’

A very special assignment

Remco van Hoek, the creator of the mural: 'I make custom murals according to the wishes of the customer. This was a very special assignment, firstly because it involved several murals, but also because I learned a lot from it myself. It was a good collaboration with Eric. He put me in touch with the right people who could tell me more about the various details in the paintings.' Remco traveled to the Field School in Oss and spoke with experts in the field of burial mounds, crop marks and ground discolouration.

The corner of the hall was the perfect place to put the cross-section of a burial mound.

Hidden features

Dullaart is very pleased with the end result. ‘I love it. It turned out very nice. What I appreciate is that there are all kinds of little features hidden in the paintings.’ On one of the pillars, for example, the archaeological remains of a well were painted. ‘Under the groundwater level you notice that there is wood preserved, while above the groundwater level this wood is rotten, noticeable through the colorations in the soil.’

The profile is more complicated than it seems at first glance. ‘Different layers that intersect with each other, in order for students to make Harris matrices. For this many experts within the faculty were consulted. Tom Hamburg helped us out with the burial mound, Roos van Oosten with the brick wall, and Arjan Louwen with the stratigraphy of Oss.’

Official presentation

Join us in the official presentation of the murals during the Opening of the Faculty Year on Tuesday, September 5th at 11.00 hours in the Reuvens Hall. Register now.

This website uses cookies.  More information.