The Materiality of Troubled Pasts. Archaeologies of Conﬂicts and Wars
The phenomena of troubled pasts composed of conﬂicts and wars seem to be an inalienable part of being human. Social relations and social processes of conﬂict, speciﬁcally war, have long drawn the attention of researchers in the social sciences and humanities. For example, the ﬁelds of psychology and sociology, have accepted the paradigm that conﬂict underlies much, if not all, human social interaction. Anthropologists have also regarded conﬂict as a social phenomenon that triggers and interacts with other social events and processes. Archaeologists began analysing social conﬂict by focusing on violence and war from a biological evolutionary point of view and took the socio-political approach during the 1940s. Recent archaeological investigations have clearly shown the eﬃciency and relevance of material culture studies for conﬂicts and warfare which have occurred in prehistoric, historic, and contemporary cultures. Also, in the contemporary, interdisciplinary archaeologies such as Modern Conﬂict Archaeology and Combat Archaeology that are identifying and investigating the modern phenomena of massive industrialized warfare and global conﬂicts in which the horrors of war are exponentially multiplied. What we stress with the presentation of this volume falls within a dynamic anthropological approach which clearly indicates that the current human presence in the world is signiﬁcantly shaped not only by the actions of past conﬂicts but also by the current social and material memories of conﬂicts. These memories anchored in the long history that has shaped us can over time become altered and corrupted. Proving that these horrors occurred and continue to occur can sometimes be diﬃcult. As demonstrated by the papers of this volume, contemporary archaeologies reach beyond the simple recording of the remains of battleﬁelds and zones of conﬂicts. They attempt to understand conﬂict with its past and continuing horrors and their social implications, which will help maintain the integrity of our social and material memories. We hope that by documenting the material culture of conﬂicts and by making others aware of these horrors, we are contributing to a more peaceful future. The papers presented in this volume are multidisciplinary and advance the study of conﬂicts and wars by providing clear examples of how troubled relations, that have occurred across time, are in many ways still present and are currently as much local as global and as much personal as universal. These papers pose poignant questions and make unique observations on the phenomenon of the materiality of troubled pasts.