Conflict Archaeology 2015 (PGCA 2015)

Discussion Panel and Conference: PG Conference in Conflict Archaeology 2015 (PGCA 2015)

6th – 8th December 2015

Oxford, UK.

The conference website is available here. The full programme can be downloaded here: PGConf_Programme_Final

Whilst most of the conference is devoted to the archaeological study of conflict, on the 8 December, there is a discussion panel.

What is the role of archaeology in modern day conflicts?


16:00. What is the role of museums in modern day conflicts?
Paul Collins, Jaleh Hearn Curator for Ancient Near East, Ashmolean Museum.

16:10. What is the role of the university in modern day conflicts?
Emma Cunliffe, Endangered Archaeology Project, University of Oxford.

16:20. What is the role of archaeologists in modern day conflict?
Nicholas Grant-Marquez, Cranfield University.

16:30-17.30. Open floor for discussion

For a discipline that has developed around ruins, it is remarkable to see how archaeology has been reinvented in the past few decades as a tool to reconstruct peace. Cultural heritage has been identified as a key element to construct identities and create bridges between communities that have been shattered by conflict.  Through the preservation and conservation of cultural heritage, archaeologists have found a way to be relevant to peace processes around the world and contribute to the construction of the future as much as they contribute to understand the past. Furthermore, the techniques that have been developed to excavate sites are currently being put to use by organizations such as the International Commission on Missing Persons, whose work focuses on assisting the process of justice to investigate disappearances and provide evidence on criminal trials. A large number of forensic archaeologists work under the umbrella of this and similar organizations to study war mass graves. Their work is instrumental in rebuilding communities after war by helping to provide closure to the families and helping to convict criminals of war. Museums, on the other hand, have lately become important spaces from where to voice concerns regarding looting of ancient sites in conflict-torn regions. Some, like the archaeological museum of Palmyra, have made the news in the past year for their efforts to keep Palmyra’s most precious artefacts safe from the destruction that befell upon Nimrud at the hands of the Islamic State. Others, like the British Museum, have announced that they are safekeeping an item that was looted from Syria. In this evolving situation, Museums have an important role to play in the protection and the display of cultural heritage at risk of destruction in conflict areas.

This panel will bring together experts from different fields of archaeology to discuss how they see the role of archaeology in modern day conflict, and ways in which archaeology can to preserve heritage and knowledge, and contribute to peace building after a period of armed conflict. The discussants will have ten minutes to put forward their view on the issue, after which we hope to engage the audience and the panellists in an intense debate.