After obtaining a master degree in History (1984) followed by a master degree in Soil Science (1986), both at Ghent University and some short archaeological projects during the years 1987-1988, I got the opportunity to participate as a soil scientist and archaeologist in a large-scale archaeological research project at the Louvre Museum in Paris (France) from 1989 to 1991. In this project I was not only responsible for the soil scientific part of the excavation but also for the coordination of the intervention of the different environmental sciences such as archaeobotany, archaeozoology, palynology,… during the excavation and the post-excavation phase. These three years in France were challenging due to the steep learning curve amongst others due to working in group and at the same time eye-opening thanks to the scale of the research and the available funding which was at that time unthinkable in Belgium.
In 1992 I returned to Belgium and got the opportunity to start on behalf of the Flanders Heritage Agency and in close collaboration with the province of West Flanders an archaeological research project devoted to the lost late medieval fishing settlement, Walraversijde, situated on the Belgian coast near Ostend. This project lasted more than 10 years and produced a lot of new insights in late medieval rural fishing communities. More than 2 hectares of the 15th century sector of the deserted village have been excavated. Soon after the start of the excavations, the province of West Flanders got aware of the potential of the archaeological research for public outreach and commissioned the realization of a site museum combined with an open air attraction. Since the opening of the archaeological museum in 2000 more than 400.000 people came for a visit.
The extraordinary research results allowed me furthermore to write a PhD on the material aspects of life in late medieval fishing communities in the southern part of the North Sea. The PhD was defended in December 2002 at the Free University of Brussels (VUB).
From 2003 onwards a large part of my further scientific work is devoted to maritime archaeology in the Belgian part of the North Sea.
Since 2013 I the VUB presented me the opportunity to teach as a Guest Professor a master course on ‘The Archaeology of Coast and Sea’.
I’m a member of the International Scientific committee on underwater cultural heritage (ICUCH) of ICOMOS since 2007 and follow on behalf of Belgium the yearly meetings of the Unesco 2001 Convention for the protection of the underwater cultural heritage, meetings of the State Parties as well as of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB). Belgium ratified this important convention in August 2013 and gradually develops at the federal level the necessary legal instruments that implement this convention. The good connections and contacts with Unesco and Icomos allowed Flanders to organize already twice an important international conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage: one in 2011 in Brussels on the factors impacting underwater cultural heritage and a second in Bruges in 2014 devoted to the underwater cultural heritage of World War I.
Since 2015 my function as senior advisor on maritime and underwater heritage at Flanders Heritage Agency (Agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed, Brussel) changed to ‘Research Director Archaeology’ which continues to this day.
Five key publications
Marnix Pieters, Ine Demerre, Tom Lenaerts, Inge Zeebroek, Marc De Bie, Wim De Clercq, Brenda Dickinson & Patrick Monsieur 2010: De Noordzee: een waardevol archief onder water Meer dan 100 jaar onderzoek van strandvondsten en vondsten uit zee in België: een overzicht, Relicta 6, 177-218. http://www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/223390.pdf
Tys Dries & Pieters Marnix 2009: Chapter three. Understanding a Medieval Fishing Settlement along the Southern North Sea: Walraversijde, c. 1200-1630, in: SICKING L. & ABREU-FERREIRA D. (eds.): Beyond the Catch. Fisheries of the North Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic, 900-1850, Leiden-Boston, 91-121.
Pieters Marnic 2010: Twice three fishes from Walraversijde (Ostend, Belgium), in: DE GROOTE K., TYS D. & PIETERS M. (eds) Exchanging Medieval Material Culture. Studies on archaeology and history presented to Frans Verhaeghe. Relicta Monografieën 4. Archeologie, Monumenten- en Landschapsonderzoek in Vlaanderen, Brussel, 143-153.
Pieters Marnix & Verhaeghe Frans 2006-2008: Medieval fishing communities in coastal Flanders, Belgium, and western Mediterranean Commodities, Medieval Ceramics 30, 103-118.
Pieters Marnix, Baeteman Cécile, Bastiaens Jan 2013: Het archeologisch onderzoek in Raversijde (Oostende) in de periode 1992 - 2005 : vuurstenen artefacten, een Romeinse dijk, een 14de-eeuws muntdepot, een 15de-eeuwse sector van een vissersnederzetting en sporen van een vroeg-17de-eeuwse en een vroeg-18de-eeuwse belegering van Oostende. Relicta Monografieën 8.