Abstracts

On this page you can find all the conference abstracts.

Keynote Talk

Dr. John Carman (University of Birmingham) : What is Conflict Archaeology For?

Abstract
The field of Conflict Archaeology has come a long way since its inception some time in the 1990s. Before it, there were individuals concerned with studying aspects of warfare from an archaeological perspective – especially battlefields of the historic period; and sites left over from the major wars of the 20th century. Only in the very late 1990s and early 2000s did the field emerge as one that had any kind of unity, and the leading conference series abandoned its nominally exclusive focus on battlefields only at its fifth session in 2008. The establishment of a dedicated peer-reviewed journal, the recruitment of doctoral candidates to the field and further conference series – including this – have confirmed its entry to the lists as a serious academic pursuit.

We engage in the study of past conflict for various reasons, and we each have our own. What is not clear however is the specific contribution that Conflict Archaeology makes beyond the collection of information about past wars. The field has a specific focus and ever-broadening scope – as evidenced by papers at this and previous conferences in the series. On this basis, archaeologists of conflict ought to be able to say something meaningful about humanity’s penchant for slaughtering other humans on the grand scale. We also ought to be able to say something about the processes of memorialising such activity. Drawing on the experience of collaborative work especially in the study of battlefields, this talk will ask what – if anything – Conflict Archaeology contributes to wider debates about human violence and what it might be able to contribute.

Conference Talks

Jo Ball (University of Liverpool) : ‘The Disposal of the Battle-Dead in the Greek and Roman Worlds’

Abstract
This paper explores the archaeological evidence for variation in practice in the disposal of the battle-dead in the Greek and Roman worlds. This is a key aspect of the site formation process of ancient battlefield sites, and yet it has undergone little examination in archaeological reality in recent decades. Traditional appraisals suggest that en masse battlefield inhumation or cremation was the predominant method used. The dead could be assured of a burial of some kind, out of respect for social and religious convention, but only individual elites and classical-era Athenians were commonly repatriated. This view is repeated through history, with the battlefield mass grave being viewed as the standard method of disposal through to the twentieth century. This process assured individual soldiers of a societally-acceptable burial, whilst avoiding the issues which could come from the long-term exposure of a large number of human remains. However, this approach has been extrapolated from a small number of non-specific literary references from antiquity, supplemented by simplistic archaeological battlefield explorations which, until the 1980s, were almost exclusively concerned with the excavation of features, not sites. Additionally, the emergence of battlefield and conflict archaeology has illustrated a divergence from the ‘battlefield mass grave’ practice on multiple occasions through the military past. It is therefore time to reassess the methods used by the Greeks and Romans to dispose of their battle-dead, incorporating methodological approaches inspired by developments in the disciplines of battlefield and conflict archaeology. This paper uses archaeological evidence from the Greek and Roman worlds to suggest that there was significant diversity in the disposal of the battle-dead, both on the battlefield and in repatriation-associated contexts. It also explores how this diversity of practice can be incorporated into future archaeological exploration of battlefields from antiquity, particularly the un-located battlefields of the Roman provinces.


Kudakwashe Chirambwi (University of Bradford) : ‘Problematizing Memorialization: A Case of Zimbabwe’s National Heroes Acre’

Abstract
With the use of the social memory theoretical framework, the paper seeks to challenge the dominant discourse of national monuments such as the national Heroes Acre in Zimbabwe as both symbolic and institutionalized, representing a shared and collective memory that heal wounds of the past and foster unity. To the contrary, the National Heroes Acre has been used for political expedience as the past is exhumed, monopolized and politicized to legitimise the political hegemony of the current regime. The paradox inherent being that, the site of memory has become a source of oppression, competing interests and incongruent objectives instead of securing recognition of heroic past. What is to be remembered renders memorialization problematic. People are endowed with the capacity to sift and eliminate from their memory anything that contradicts with the existential realities of the day, their aspirations and ideological affiliations. People also understand and interpret events differently depending on several variables. The question becomes: is there a shared collective memory, or collective remembrance among Zimbabweans given the violent political conflict between rival liberation movements of Zimbabwe African National Union (of Shona ethnic origins and the current ruling party) and Zimbabwe African People’s Union ((of Ndebele ethnic origins)? The above stated conflict demonstrates the fragility of collective memory as conflicts of interpretation of memory and representation at the National Heroes Acre further divides people. Memorialization can be ethnicized and regionalized, with the propensity of creating a patron –client relationship when setting criteria of who gets buried at the national shrine. In the case of Zimbabwe, as is suggested by this paper through social constructionist perspective, memorialization should be reconceptualised as a founding principle for nation and state building than as a tool for dominion. Key words: memorialization, National Heroes Acre, politicised, interpretation, representation


George Cupcea (Universitatea de Vest, Timisoara) : ‘Frontier Landscape and Conflict in Roman Dacia. The advanced limes at Supuru de Sus, North-Western Romania’

Abstract
The matter of an advanced frontier that the Romans had established in Dacia has long been discussed. From the 19th century onwards, archaeologists have investigated a series of fortification lines that pass through Northern Romania, reaching the Theiss plain and the southern part of Pannonian plain, in Romanian Banat. Although a coherent meaning has been sought all this time, actual systematic research has been conducted only in several critical spots. One of this is Supuru de Sus, in North-Western part of Romania, where a 2 km long trench and turf-wall has been detected on the field for more than 20 years now. A team of the University of Cluj, which includes myself, has led, since 2012, geomagnetic investigation on site, leading to encouraging results.

Together with archaeological research, we have reached the conclusion that the feature can be dated in Roman times, in spite of its peculiar structure and layout. It is clearly a temporary structure, which has been in use for a very short period of time. The question that still remains unanswered is when precisely had it been in use. There are two options available. The first is that this is the original border line established by emperor Trajan when the Dacian kingdom was established, and the second is that it could have been a temporary expansion of Roman authority in the context of a frontier conflict. Searching archaeological evidence of hostile populations in this area and their chronology, especially through the results of recent research in the area of North-Western Romania, the study will attempt to explain from the perspective of the Romans, if this structure had a defensive or offensive purpose. The conclusion reached from this point of view could turn out to be very valuable in the precise dating of the fortification line.


Lindsay Davies (New York University) : ‘The Nice Girl and the Soldiers: Innocence and Experience in a WWI Autograph Book’

Abstract
I will begin with an account of the challenges this research project presents. The autograph book is a personal artifact, and few facts are known surrounding its use. Establishing what sort of discourse is implicated in the circulation of the autograph book is necessary. But more important is the question of what can be confidently claimed about the book’s (and the form’s) significance. The rest of my talk, then, will review the tentative assertions I want to make for this autograph book’s meaning and continuing relevance as a historical artifact. The book and the exchange between its teenage female owner (a Girl Guide and VAD worker) and the wounded soldiers who filled its pages (with drawings, poems, jokes, etc.) can be considered in relation to recent scholarship on the Girl Guides as an antidote to the “Khaki Fever,” which manifest itself in girls thronging the boys in uniform during the early years of WWI. I will show that while the owner of this book was from an established middle class family in Newcastle, and her guiding and VAD work was an extension of her respectability, her introduction of the autograph book in the war hospital setting both creates and represents a rare (for the period) proximity and emotional intimacy with young men. Rather than an antidote to feverish excitement, the volunteer work enabled this female teenager to experience stimulating and flirtatious yet at the same time utterly respectable interactions with the opposite sex that mediated the typical limitations posed on adolescent girls. In this way, the autograph book reveals how war work for young women potentially made a space for the emergent category of female “adolescence.”


Xavier Duffy (University of Birmingham) : ‘Site Preferences for the Memorialisation of the Persian Wars’

Abstract
This paper will address site preferences for the memorialisation of the Persian Wars in fifth century BC Greece. A quantitative analysis of the distribution of commemorative monuments commemorating the Persian Wars illustrates how certain city-states constructed commemorative monuments at certain sites. Particular commemorative arenas will be defined and discussed in order to highlight anomalies in dedicatory practice. Memory of warfare is selective and is presented as an active cultural phenomenon. By presenting this phenomenon as ‘active’ is to acknowledge that the present may affect the representation of the past. By extension, I assert that commemoration of conflict is a process of exchange, a dialogue between the present consciousness and how the past is intended to be interpreted. Each polis would want to assert their own contribution to the Persian Wars, resulting in memories and counter-memories of the same event being produced and perpetuated at will. Interstate relations between individual city-states will be outlined to see whether the pan-Hellenic ‘imagined community’ of Greeks exerted any significant pressure on the memories of the Persian Wars held by individual poleis. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether site selection in the collective commemorative process was a conscious choice and, if so, what influenced these choices.


Brian Fahy (University of Oxford) : ‘The Archaeology of Naval Warfare in 14th and 15th Century Southeast Asia’

Abstract
Little research has been conducted on marine archaeology in Southeast Asia. The underwater archaeology that has been conducted in the area focuses mostly on material dated to after European contact, and what little research that has been done on Southeast Asian maritime archaeology, has been largely concentrated on trade. While these angles of research are admittedly important, a gap remains in the understanding of maritime culture, and more imporantly, on maritime warfare, of pre-colonial Southeast Asia. This paper represents a case study of six Southeast Asian shipwrecks and their assemblages, dating between 1370 to 1505 CE, discusses the archaeological material found pertaining to naval warfare and incursion defence used in pre-colonial contact Southeast Asia. Three of the ships are Chinese-built, and three are built in the Southeast Asian “hybrid” style. By looking at written sources of regional maritime history at the time and comparing that with what has been found in the underwater archaeological record, this paper hopes to discuss how literary sources describe naval battles in Southeast Asia, identify found artefacts that were used in naval warfare in the region, and highlight possible differences between ship design and weapon complement.


Helen Glenn (Independent) : ‘The Heritage Management of Sites of Conflict: The Past as a Simulation’

Abstract
This paper will focus on two main case studies. The first is the Battle of Bannockburn of 1314. This year marks the 700th anniversary of the battle itself, and it marks a year of huge celebrations of Scottish national pride and identity. To celebrate this there is a massive archaeological project taking place to find out exactly where the battle took place, the kind of environment the men would have been fighting in and how the men moved around the landscape, as well as what made Robert The Bruce’s tactics work so well. This great work, however, is being overshadowed by the opening of a new heritage centre, that offers state of the art 3D technology to stand next to a Medieval soldier. I will explore the ideas behind this heritage centre and what is being portrayed and used as an advertising tool. The second case study will be the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, this marked a turning point in the history of the English nation, it marked the end of Plantagenet rule, the birth of the Tudor Dynasty, as well as the end of the Wars of the Roses. There are many misconceptions about this battle, many of which are being acknowledged and expelled at the same time. I will discuss these along with the possibility that the moved Bosworth Heritage Centre may be in the wrong place, following archaeological research conducted to coincide with the battle’s 500th anniversary, and more recent research that has taken place in 2010. By using these case studies to highlight the importance of tourism in today’s heritage industry the aim is to challenge the presentations and biases of the past portrayed by heritage centres to draw people in. This paper aims to challenge the notion that the past is a simulation to be manipulated to one’s own ends. It is far more sacred than that.


Anne Gurlev and Erik Petersen (University of Copenhagen) : ‘Violence in the Mesolithic’

Abstract
A recent survey, 2014, indicates more than one hundred European Mesolithic individuals with traces of violence. None-lethal head wounds dominate, and there are more adult and mature male individuals than females in this sample. So this is a domestic and local violence with no traces of organized attacks. Also a few infants show traces of violence, while death by arrows, embedded microliths, and stabbing is an Eastern European phenomenon. Infanticide, scalp- and headhunting are other possibilities as is cannibalism, but no evidence for trepanation. Also the claim for an increase of violence during the Mesolithic must be rejected. Double and multiple burials pose a problem, especialy when none of the individuals show traces of violence. And so does those Loose Human Bones found inside of a dwelling. Therefore a final caveat : Violence or veneration, how do we distinguish among the two? And another one: Violence is seen on the human skeleton, either in the burial or as a Loose Human Bone, and therefore there is ”no smoking gun evidence” for Mesolithic violence.


Chris King (University of Birmingham) : ‘Current State of Research for ‘Cultures of Conflict’; Use of Cultural Analysis Techniques and GIS in the Study of Battlefields’

Abstract
This presentation is intended to summarise and illustrate the current level of my PhD thesis after my first year of research. Bringing in the influences from my successful masters dissertation on the use of GIS in the study of battlefields as well as my research on the nature of culture, society and anthropology in relation to conflict.

Utilising the battlefield as a concentrated multivariate hub for the different influences of factors on conflict, this study seeks to ‘unpick’ the complex elements that come together on a battlefield such as religion, politics, experiences of the enemy, weapons development and what tactics and strategic options are considered acceptable by both sides and collate them on a digital map. Once this is achieved, it can be demonstrated the extent to which culture affected conflict, or indeed conflict affected culture.

Using the Battle of Naseby as a case study, this presentation will demonstrate the advantages to analysing a battle in this way. It will also show how understanding what influenced the battle in what way can deepen our understanding about historic militaries and how they effected, and were affected by the societies they fought for. This is an important consideration to make, as collating and understanding the context for a military can assist us in understanding historic militaries where there may be less information on the military itself but more on the culture behind it.


Richard Leese (University of Huddersfield) : ‘The Archaeology of Siege Action: An Exploration of the Evidence at 17th Century Sites’

Abstract
The Archaeology of Siege Action: An exploration of the evidence at 17th Century sites While traditional archaeology has a long history with the examination of sieges, modern advances in battlefield archaeology have largely bypassed the detailed study of siege actions in favour of battles. As a consequence, the unique opportunities that siege sites offer both for understanding the action that took place, and for developing our understanding of the archaeology of both sieges and battlefields have yet to be fully explored. Current doctoral research recently underway at the University of Huddersfield is investigating the opportunities and potential for the study of attack and defence at siege sites, and considering the best approaches for examining the evidence specific to siege sites. The core of the research at present revolves around investigation of attacking fire against structures during sieges, and the relationship between this and evidence of outgoing defensive fire. A pilot survey and test-pit excavations planned for late-Summer/early-Autumn 2014 will examine the unstratified remains of impacted rounds at a siege site in Shropshire to establish the relationship between impact scars on the upstanding ruins of the garrison, the impacted rounds that created these, and the presence of other incoming fire that is expected to accumulate at the base of defensive structures but leaves no visible outwards trace on the walls. The opportunity for transect surveys of outgoing fire in the fields surrounding this site is, at the time of writing, still being discussed.


Martin Marix-Evans (Honorary Visiting Fellow, University of Leicester) : ‘Presenting Naseby’

Abstract
Presenting NasebyThe present-day countryside at Naseby is a lovely example of the landscape of the Northamptonshire Uplands, bordering Leicestershire. Since the enclosures of the 18thand 19th century the essentials have not changed greatly. Improved drainage, the planting of game cover and the cultivation made possible by modern machinery have disguised, but not erased, the open-field environment over which the fighting of 14 June 1645 took place. In making the history accessible to the modern, casual visitor as well as the scholar, the task has been to invest this pleasant place with an awareness of the events of the battle, with interpretation boards conveying not only what happened, but how it came to pass and why we believe it to be so.


Martin Marix-Evans (Honorary Visiting Fellow, University of Leicester) : ‘Presenting Naseby’

Abstract
Presenting NasebyThe present-day countryside at Naseby is a lovely example of the landscape of the Northamptonshire Uplands, bordering Leicestershire. Since the enclosures of the 18thand 19th century the essentials have not changed greatly. Improved drainage, the planting of game cover and the cultivation made possible by modern machinery have disguised, but not erased, the open-field environment over which the fighting of 14 June 1645 took place. In making the history accessible to the modern, casual visitor as well as the scholar, the task has been to invest this pleasant place with an awareness of the events of the battle, with interpretation boards conveying not only what happened, but how it came to pass and why we believe it to be so.


Elena Perez-Alvaro (University of Birmingham) : ‘Shipwrecks as Stock for Particle Physics Experiments: New Uses of the Underwater Cultural Heritage’

Abstract
On 14th May 2011 a 2000-year-old shipwreck’s cargo was used as a source for experiments of particle physics. Italy’s new neutrino detector bought 120 archaeological lead bricks from a shipwreck from the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari in Sardinia), which was built more than 2,000 years ago and recovered from the sea 20 years ago. This “roman lead” – mainly found in the anchors of sunken ships – was used because of its low radioactivity: being underwater for 2,000 years reduced by approximately 100,000 times the very low original radioactivity represented by one of its radionuclide, lead-210. This use is ethically questionable. The fact that underwater heritage belonging to the benefit of humankind, is presumably legally – or not – excavated and recovered by a Museum – or a company -, and afterwards sold or transferred for its complete destruction for experiments for the benefit of humankind, introduces a new whole legal aspect of the treatment and the protection of this heritage. The dilemma is if there is any justification on using underwater cultural heritage for legitimate –but commercial- purposes. New uses of the oceans and their patrimony -development and use of the underwater cultural heritage for different purposes- have been recently invoked by relevant international law of sea actors and their instruments. It is necessary to identify gaps and suggestions in order to analyse whether and to what extent the existing rules can be applied or modified to adequately deal with these new values.


Aimee Schofield (University of Manchester) : If ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’, why Bother Inventing the Catapult?

Abstract
If ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, why bother inventing the catapult? The catapult’s invention by a group of artisans working for Dionysius I of Syracuse in the early fourth century is often heralded as a turning point in the development of siege warfare. Heated arguments are made for and against the various types of catapult technology which could have been invented around this time – did Dionysius’ craftsmen come up with the non-torsion gastraphetes or torsion-powered artillery? Did it develop in a linear or more sporadic fashion over the following decades? However, what is often left unasked is the question of why the catapult was invented at all. What advantage did it really have over its earlier counterparts? Were catapults really as useful and effective as the ancient sources might lead us to believe? This paper will consider these questions by examining the circumstances surrounding the invention of the catapult and its subsequent effect on siege warfare. The styles of siege warfare used in the fifth and fourth centuries will be considered in order to provide context for the invention of the catapult and to understand whether the use of artillery in sieges had an impact in how they were fought. Evidence from experimental archaeology will also be used to further explore the change in the dynamic of warfare which the catapult brought about and to offer some explanations as to why the inventions made by Dionysius’ craftsmen helped to transform ancient siege warfare forever.


Chantel Summerfield (University of Bristol) : Emotive Trees: A Million Miles away from the Battlefields

Abstract
The landscapes of the First World War hold memories for those that were there to witness their creation and for those who observe them in the post-war period. However, not all First World War landscapes appear where battlefields were generated. Some occur thousands of miles away, but echo the impact of the war on the mental health of the soldier.

When Europe went to war in 1914 the world was not prepared to deal with the evacuees or the victims of the war, whether it was from physical mutilation or through psychiatric problems. Even when the American army declared war in 1917, little was known about the psychological effects of warfare on the soldier. Many medics, including the Belgian doctor Leon Spaas, believed that “war often simply bought problems that were latently present to the surface”, a theory that has been disproved in the post-war period.
This paper will illustrate the impact of the First World War on certain soldiers through the study of arborglyphs (tree graffiti) made by the military. Arborglyphs are a sub-division of the well-studied discipline of culturally modified trees (CMTs), but unlike CMTs that can be made by animals such as the bear, beaver or squirrel; arborglyphs are made by people.

The talk will concentrate on those arborglyphs discovered and recorded at Perry Point Veteran Medical Centre in Maryland, America. This hospital was established in 1919 as a direct result of the need to care for casualties of the First World War. By 1920 Perry Point had become a hospital that mainly focused on neuropsychiatric care for soldiers, in particular shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After the First World War, the facilities at Perry Point increased dramatically to encompass all the soldiers that were being relocated to the hospital, as other veteran hospitals in America closed. The hospital is still in operation and admits American Veterans from wars such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Often arborglyphs are hidden from the world as people choose not to acknowledge their existence or their importance. They are however, a direct connection to the individual soldier who left their mark on a tree. In most conflict landscapes these arborglyphs document names, dates and places as well as the feelings and fantasies that a soldier may have during war, to create a unique archaeological record. However, the arborglyphs that were created at Perry Point offer a more sinister archaeological record that needs to be explored.


Veronica Walker Vadillo (University of Oxford) : ‘Naval Warfare in the Bas-Reliefs of Angkor: Naumachia or Reality?’

Abstract
Paper abstract This presentation explores naval warfare in Angkor, a Southeast Asian polity that developed in modern day Cambodia from802to 1432 CE. In the bas-reliefs of the Angkorian temples of Banteay Chhmar and Bayon there are two large representations of nautical warfare that have traditionally been identified with a naval battle fought in 1177 CE between the forces of Angkor and Champa(a rival polity that thrived in the coastal area of central and south Vietnam). Both scenes show Angkorian soldiers clearly overpowering their enemies, who are often represented as being dead in the water or rowing backwards in an attempt to flee the scene. The identity of the losing party has been contested by scholars as early as the 1940s; though Champa has been seen as the traditional enemy of Angkor, the identification of the enemies as Cham people has been mostly based on this rivalry and the head dresses that they are wearing. Furthermore, the identification of the scene as a nautical battle has also been brought into question, with some scholars suggesting that they are not battles but rather representations of naumachia. The aim of this presentation is twofold. On the one hand, it will analyse the environment in which the battles are taking place to see if there is any merit to the suggestion that it may be a naumachia, and on the other hand, it will examine military advancements in nautical technology and the organization of the Angkorian navy.


Dagmar Zadrazilova (University of Cambridge) : ‘Architectural Heritage, Remembrance of the Past and Local Engagement: Tempelhof Airport in Berlin as Witness of Turbulent Past and Present’

Abstract
Tempelhof Airport in the heart of Berlin retains unusually rich history: it served as the hub of pioneers of aviation in the 19th century, as a site of Nazi concentration camp, as witness of Berlin Airlift 1948/49 and as a gate to freedom during the era of divided Berlin. Today the airport is closedfor traffic and serves as an enormous public park. Archaeological excavations at the site, mostly covering the former Nazi camp, reveal how painful and still unsettled the Berlin’s past is. At the same time, vivid public discussions about the future use of the park mirror different identities (and conflicts of identities) in this torn city: West Berliners vs. East Berliners, the young vs. the old, “proper” Berliners vs. the “new” ones, metropolitan municipality’s development plans vs. the needs and wishes of general public. Since Tempelhof is one of Berlin’s notable symbols, is it appropriate the call the park “Tempelhof Freedom” (Tempelhofer Freiheit) if it was a site of human suffering? Which story tell us the archaeological finds? Should we move one step further and concentrate on the positive role of Tempelhof during the Airlift? And what is the right way to commemorate such an important place of history? All these questions become yet more urgent in the light of the recent result of the referendum about the proposed re-development plan for the former airfield: 64.3% of Berliners voted against it. Thus, the field remains technically free, however, the questions brought up by the archaeological excavations remain very conspicuous indeed and it is up to the municipality as well as Berliners to try to find the answers.