Killing Fields: the archaeology of warfare and conflict

Birmingham Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity

College of Arts and Law


Code 23385

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 20

Semester Scheduled for 1+2, 2012-13

Pre-requisite modules n/a

Other pre-requisites n/a

Module description

Over the last twenty years the study of war and conflict has become a major new area for archaeologists. Drawing upon established approaches to the study of human remains, artefacts and landscapes, and by developing new ones to discover the evidence of past conflict in the peaceful countryside, archaeologists are increasingly able to contribute to our understanding of human aggression and violence in the past - from the deepest prehistory through to the present and future.
This module will provide an opportunity for you to explore these new developments through the work of those at the forefront of international Conflict Archaeology. You will explore in archaeological approaches to warfare and violence in all periods, from the most ancient through historic times to the last decades of the 20th century. Material to be addressed will include: weaponry of all ages; military structures, landscapes and battlefields; human remains and their contexts; and monuments and memorials. We will discus the reasons for studying violence in the past, arguments about theoretical models and methodologies, the relevance of archaeology to understanding military practice and the use of force, and issues of commemoration and remembrance. Case studies you will examine come from all parts of the globe where archaeologists are researching aspects of the human capacity to kill or harm other humans, their causes and consequences.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, small group exercises