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Conflict Archaeology


Prof. dr. James Symonds


Members of the research group

Prof. dr. R. van der Laarse

Prof. dr. Bram Kemper

Nour Munawar (PhD candidate)


External Members:

V-P. Herva (Oulu University)

L. McAtackney (Arhus University)

V. Matoušek (Charles University, Prague)

G. Moshenska (UCL, London)

N. Price (Uppsala University)

N.G.A.M. Roymans (VU Amsterdam)

J. Schofield (University of York)

J. Teixeira Lino (Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul-UFFS, BR)

P. Vaȓeka (University of West Bohemia)


Description of the research programme of the research group

In recent years conflict archaeology has grown to become an important sub-discipline of archaeology. The Conflict Archaeology research group in the AHM is led by an historical archaeologist, and takes an anthropologically informed interdisciplinary approach to human conflict, combining documentary and oral history sources with evidence gathered by archaeological field prospection and interventions, as well as forensic analyses. While we acknowledge the fundamentally important research that has been undertaken by archaeologists and historians on reconstructing battlefield sites, in Europe, and further afield, we aim to study the impact of conflict on society in its widest sense. Hence, looking beyond the sometimes narrow confines of battlefield archaeology, we are interested in understanding the planning, motivation, and provisioning of conflicts, as well as the aftermaths, such as mass graves, places of confinement, and the construction of public memories. A major strand of our research is concerned with the impact of conflict upon civilian populations, both in terms of the war time destruction of property and displacement of non-combatants, and the post-war reconciliation and reconstruction of memorials and cultural heritage sites. Although we do not place any temporal constraints on our research, recognizing that the origins of inter-personal human violence and organized aggression lie deep in prehistory, our focus lies on conflict in the early modern and modern world. Our active projects include research on the Thirty Years’ War, WWII and  Cold War sites Finland, and the Czech Republic, and the Guerra do Contestado (1912-16) in southern Brazil.


Envisaged results

PhD dissertations, peer-reviewed journal articles & book chapters, edited volumes, workshops & expert meetings, seminars and public lectures.


Work plan and time schedule

2014- 2018


Societal relevance

Conflict regularly takes place between individual human groups and larger social and political formations and plays a central part in human life. The research undertaken by this group therefore has a high social relevance. On the one hand it is intended to gather and collate evidence of past conflicts, leading to deeper insights and possible reinterpretations of previous accounts. And on the other hand our research holds a mirror up to the contemporary world highlighting the scale of destruction and in many cases futility of modern conflict, opening up a space for debates on the nature of human aggression and paths towards peace and reconciliation.