Drawing Archaeology

Drawing Archaeology

Bachelor's student Daphne de Vos creates drawings on the basis of archaeological finds, history and mythology.

Digging daphne draws

Through my project DiggingDaphneDraws I create drawings on the basis of archaeological finds, history and mythology. The main goals of my project are enjoying the drawing process and informing people about archaeological objects in a creative way. I always add a short story with some background information to the drawings I post on the LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram pages of DiggingDaphneDraws. In my experience people who don’t know anything about the objects depicted or the time period they belong to, are often very enthusiastic about my art. Therefore, I believe art is a good medium for spreading scientific knowledge to the public. I have already sold a few drawings I made on request. In this blog, some of the drawings I have created will be highlighted.


My drawings cover different time periods and regions, to make sure the objects are as diverse as possible. Periods range from 14,000 years ago to the 17th century. The oldest of the two periods is represented by my drawing of an Azilian spear-thrower found in the Mas D’Azil Cave in southern France. On the spear-thrower two birds are depicted on what is emerging from the animal’s bottom; scholars have been arguing whether this is a turd or whether the fawn is giving birth… Decorated pebbles, painted red with a mixture of iron oxide and saltwater scallop shells are depicted around the spear-thrower. They were found in the cave, even though it was located far from the sea.

Daphne de vos draws
Daphne de Vos, drawing

Texel shipwreck

The most recent period is represented by my drawing of a 17th century dress and goblet. These objects are part of the cargo of shipwreck BZN 17, also called the Palmhout (boxwood) Wreckage. This shipwreck from 1640 AD was found near the coast of Texel (the Netherlands). It is famous for its well preserved cargo containing boxwood, leather and textiles. Around 25 book covers were discovered, one of which contained the Stuart coat of arms. The orange tinge of the dress – also present on the other textiles – was probably caused by iron oxide pollution. The silver gilt goblet contains floral patterns, mascarons (faces with frightening expressions) and a depiction of the Roman god Mars on top.

Texel dress 1 Texel dress 1

Research and art

My drawings are often inspired by subjects I am writing or working on for assignments or essays. What research and art have in common for me is that they both allow me to really go into detail; some of my drawings consist of thousands of 0.1 mm sized dots. When drawing an object, I often have to read some background literature, so through the process of creating a drawing I am learning more about archaeology myself. I have combined research and art by designing the cover of my own bachelor thesis.

In my thesis, I am evaluating methods that have previously been used to predict population densities on the basis of archaeological finds. In addition, I am making my own prediction for the population density in West-Frisia (the Netherlands) in the Bronze Age. The cover drawing depicts a West-Frisian Bronze Age farm with a ditch around it - farms are one of the proxies used in my calculations. The map of West-Frisia is depicted behind the farm, including some formulas related to predicting population densities in the past.

If you would also like an eye-catching cover image for your thesis to highlight the gist of your research, I am always open for requests!

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