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Updated on
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

The archaeology of violence: wartime violence, mass violence 
by Alain Schnapp, University Paris 1

In a famous 1939 essay, Benjamin Péret pondered the endless cycle of ruin: all monuments are destined to become ruins; all ruins are doomed to disappear. Ruins are the "ruin of ruins”. That phrase by the Surrealist poet seems to echo words from On the Civil War by the Roman poet Lucan: etiam periere ruinae, even ruins perish. In this talk I will reflect on the uses of ruins and what has become of them in ancient and modern societies. Ruins are the result of human violence as well as of the ravages of time (tempus edax). They embody what occurred as well as what might happen. They are a fragile, physical and intangible bridge between past and present.
Alain Schnapp is professor of archaeology at the University of Paris I and researcher at the Maison de l’archéologie et de l’ethnologie Paris I/Paris West/CNRS. His research focuses on the archaeology of Greek cities and the iconography and history of archaeology. He has written several works as well as many specialised studies on the iconography of ancient Greece, the excavations of the sites in Laos (Calabria), Eleftherna and Itanos (Crete) and the origins of archaeology. He has taught in many European and American universities and was the first director-general of the INHA. He is presently working on a universal history of ruins.

  • « La conquête du passé » ,  Paris 1998, Le livre de Poche(2° édition)  
  • « Le sentiment des ruines de l'Orient ancien aux Lumières, continuités et transformations »,  in le genre humain, avril 2011, N°spécial, l'archéologie comme discipline, sous la direction de Ph. Boissinot, pp 171-199  
  • « Le passé entre exécration et admiration, les ruines de l'Empire et l'Europe médiévale », in ERH, special issue, 18, 5-6, 2011 pp 741-758  
  • Avec L. von Falkenhausen, P. Miller, T.Muray (ed): "World antiquarianism, comparative perspectives", Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2013
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