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19 June 2017
The Archaeology of Violence

International colloquium organized by Inrap and the Museum of Louvre-Lens.
October 2, 3 and 4, 2104 at La Scène du Louvre-Lens

Archéologie de la violence - violence de guerre, violence de masse

An international symposium organised by the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research and the Louvre-Lens Museum.

2, 3 and 4 October 2014 at La Scène of the Louvre-Lens Museum


On the occasion of the "The Disasters of War 1800-2014” exhibition at the Louvre-Lens Museum from 28 May to 6 October 2014, the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) and the Louvre-Lens Museum are organising a symposium entitled "Archaeology of Violence-War Violence, Mass Violence”, which aims to assess archaeology’s contribution to research on collective violence and war and to show how it can add to contemporary discussion.   

The anthropological approach to research has freed it from the limitations of military and strategic history and offers fresh methodologies and theoretical approaches on the nature of the war experience as it is lived by combatants and civilians. The symposium will also provide an opportunity for dialogue between the social sciences and art history in an international perspective.   

In France, the archaeology of the Great War led to reflection on research methods and techniques, although the new approach did raise questions. The 20th century was marred by extreme violence ¾ dramatic events that left mass graves and other traces. For international courts, they can determine the victims’ identity and help to determine everyone’s share of responsibility in the massacres. All these developments have led archaeology into new fields involving forensic expertise, the retrieval of historical memory and law.   

Through the considerable information archaeology contributes to the knowledge of war and the reality of violence, it renews our understanding of war from prehistoric times to the contemporary era.   

Free admission subject to the number of seats Booking advised at  

The symposium will take place in English and French with simultaneous translation.   

Jean Guilaine, member of the Institute, honorary professor at the Collège de France (1994-2007), and Jacques Sémelin, research director at the CNRS, CERI-Sciences Po, are the symposium’s scientific directors.

Thursday 2th october 2014


How do individuals no different from anybody else in the general population turn into mass murderers? How do "ordinary men” become killers and commit atrocities in a context of armed conflict? In which disciplines has the archaeology of conflict been used? 



Lunch free

I - The roots of war



II - Wartime violence, mass violence: questions of method

Friday 3th october 2014

Wartime violence, mass violence: questions of method (continuation)



III - The advent of total war


Lunch free




Free visit of the exhibition " The disasters of war "

Saturday 4th october 2014

IV - The Age of Extremes

At a time when the historiography of contemporary conflicts has reached a turning point, the focus is shifting from the political causes and consequences of wars and dictatorships to the very nature of mass violence, its players and its internal economy. That is how forensic archaeology has been used. It applies the principles, techniques and methods of archaeology in a legal context that may or may not involve judicial procedures under way or the retrieval of memory. What issues are archaeologists working on in the highly diversified framework of contemporary conflict? What new things do they have to contribute?




lunch free



16h30 / 17h30

What is the archaeology of violence? What dialogue can there be between the social sciences and art history? What joint research projects are possible? In multidisciplinary panel discussions, this part of the symposium aims to put the ways in which archaeology can be used in these areas of research into perspective.
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