Challenging the Dead: Working out problems in mortuary archaeology

Challenging the Dead

Working out problems in mortuary archaeology

The workshop

Mortuary archaeology poses a lot of challenges to archaeologists. These problems are shared between archaeologists regardless of periods and regions of interest. This workshop focuses on bringing those problems forward and debating about them. Of course, we also hope that the workshop will provide some insights and possibly answers to those issues we all share.

The main focus of the presentations will be the challenges, difficulties but also the potential of mortuary studies. The workshop will be organized in four thematic cycles (see below) and the contributors should bring forward issues regarding those fields. For your abstract, however, you are not restricted only to the four fields; please feel free to share any other ideas and suggestions you may have.

  • Theoretical Questions: Theoretical paradigms change quickly. How do we keep up with theoretical debates? How are the data reconciled with theory? How to choose the proper theoretical approach?
  • Methodology: Methodologies in the field and during the subsequent analyses are changing at an ever quickening pace. How can archaeologists make informed choices? How can we assess the potential and limitations of the different analytical methods?  
  • Ethics: Archaeologists often find themselves confronted with political interventions, media pressure, or unexpected reactions by local communities. Ethical questions arise in every step of the research process, from the field to the exhibition in museums. How do we deal with them?
  • Knowledge utilization: Archaeology is becoming an expensive discipline, and we need to account to funding bodies and to the public at large. How should we do this?  What is the impact of knowledge utilization on fundamental research?
  • The thematic cycles have been chosen based on the problems and discussions arising in mortuary archaeology. Those are questions we are all confronted with (though perhaps in different degrees), and have attempted to solve in different ways. You can submit the issues you want to share on one or more of the four topics presented above.

In order to participate at the workshop, please apply by filling in the attached registration form and by presenting your own questions related to the four cycles, or making a different suggestion (the text should not exceed 500 words). Please also add  3-4 keywords, and send the form to by 28th of March 2019.

We will have to select the questions to be presented, in order to make sure that the different views, questions and background will be equally represented. All submissions will be shared with all participants.

The oral presentation of the questions selected should not exceed 10 minutes each. This will allow plenty of time for discussion – which is the main aim of the workshop.


Credits: 1 EC for attending and handing in a reflection report.

Date & Time: Thursday 2 May 2019, 14:00 to Friday 3 May 17:30

Registration: Here, you can register online until 17 April. 

Participation fee: Participation fee for students and unemployed will be 10€ and for salaried 20€. Details about the method of payment will be circulated later. ARCHON reimburses the registration for members.

Location: Marie Loke Zaal, Harmonie Building, University of Groningen

Language: English

The full programme can be downloaded here.