Session: #273

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Towards an International Archaeology of Fortifications: Methodologies and Interpretations [COMFORT]
Prehistoric and early historic fortifications are outstanding archaeological sites, which in many cases are still visible in the terrain and therefore represent significant focal points in the landscape. However, numerous fortification works have also been lost due to construction activity and changing landscape uses during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, there is a significant geographical and chronological diversity of countless monuments featuring different architectures and functionalities, as well as a large number of hillfort researchers across Europe. For a long time, the archaeology of fortified sites has pursued a culture-historical approach, mostly focussing on locating historical events and evidence for warfare. Newer research has expanded the focus to other aspects, such as the symbolic meanings of fortifications, construction labour, or their relationship with the wider natural and cultural landscape. In addition, fortification-specific research methods and techniques have been established, both in fieldwork and in further analysis.There are, however, barriers in scholarship related to political and linguistic boundaries, as well as period-related research traditions, which often make supra-regional and diachronic discussions difficult.
This session aims to explore the current state of research approaches on fortifications in prehistoric and early historic Europe. Individual investigations shall be located and critically reflected within the international research landscape. It is our explicit goal to outline the diversity but also commonalities in strategies and approaches, in order to contribute to the building of larger international networks that go beyond traditional divides. We invite speakers to focus on the concepts, theories and methods relevant to their own fortification research and to contextualise their approaches within the wider disciplinary framework.
Fortifications, Hillforts, Prehistory, Early History, Conflict Archaeology, Theory and Method
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Session associated with other:
Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT) ROOTS Cluster of Excellence


Main organiser:
Jens Schneeweiss (Germany) 1,2,3
Timo Ibsen (Germany) 2
Ariane Ballmer (Switzerland) 4
Birgit Maixner (Norway) 5
Manuel Fernández-Götz (United Kingdom) 6
1. University of Kiel, ROOTS Cluster of Excellence
2. Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology
3. University of Göttingen
4. University of Bern, Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
5. NTNU University Museum Trondheim, Department of Archaeology and Cultural History
6. University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classics and Archaeology