Great War Archaeology Group
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The two following talks are being given at 'Archaeology 2008'
on Sunday evening 10th February at the British Museum

"Conflict Archaeology, and why it matters"

Dr Nicholas J. Saunders
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol

Conflict archaeology is a new and interdisciplinary endeavour, which investigates the material traces of modern industrialised 20th- and 21st-century conflicts and their legacies. As an anthropologically informed 'archaeology of the recent past in times of conflict', its research potential is vast, and is matched only by its ethical responsibilities to all who were and continue to be affected by modern conflicts, from the First World War to the current and equally global 'war on terror'. Moving beyond 'Battlefield Archaeology's' traditional focus on one-off battles, conflict archaeology deploys a theoretically sophisticated approach to the overlapping issues of landscape, material culture, identity, memory, and heritage and tourism, in a multi-dimensional attempt to investigate not only large-scale wars between nations, but any kind of conflict, at any level, within and between nation states. Conflict archaeology is a hybrid, drawing on the insights and expertise of anthropology, historical archaeology, industrial archaeology, military history, art history, cultural geography, cultural studies, and museum and heritage studies. It aims to present a broad and nuanced understanding of modern conflict's personal, technological, and cultural dimensions, and to explore the new material and emotional worlds that have been brought into being over the last one hundred years.

 

"In search of the Zeppelin War: the archaeology of the First Blitz"

Dr Nadia Durrani
Editor, Current World Archaeology

The first strategic bombing campaign in history was that mounted by Imperial Germany against Britain in the First World War. Using first Zeppelin airships and then Gotha and Giant aeroplanes, the Germans pioneered a new form of warfare - the use of aerial bombing to destroy industry and terrorise civilians - that has become iconic of modern industrialised conflict in the last 90 years. Dependent on science and mass-production, characterised by a technological arms race, and largely responsible for creating the 'total battlefield' where the homeland becomes part of the contested landscape, air war is a key aspect of the thoroughgoing 'modernisation' of war which took place in the early 20th century. This talk reports on the Great War Archaeology Group's First Blitz Project, which sampled the archaeological remains of history's first comprehensive system of home defence designed to withstand aerial bombardment.

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