PhD International Seminar and Workshop 12-24 March 2018 in Kohima in Nagaland, India

The Department of History and Archaeology,  Nagaland University, invited junior and senior scientists to discuss matters of monumentality from different viewpoints: the international PhD Seminar “Building Big? Global Scales of Monumentality – an ethnoarchaeological perspective” and the subsequent workshop “Hierarchy and Balance: the role of monumentality in European and North-East Indian Landscapes” took place at the Kohima Campus (Meriema) in Nagaland from 12-24 March 2018. The events were jointly organised by the Nordic School of Archaeology “Dialogues with the Past” (Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Norway), the CRC 1266 and the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” (GS HDL) at Kiel University.
Central issue of the events was monumentality as an exceptionally diverse and broad phenomenon in archaeological research across the world that occurs in different prehistorical and historical settings. By presenting and discussing papers on different topics, the 5-day PhD seminar concentrates on the significance, meaning and interpretations of monumentality. Major research objectives addressed during the meeting were:

  • What does monumentality mean in different societies? How could a comparative approach be useful to answer archaeological questions on reconstructing social behaviour?
  • Is it possible to connect the very different theoretical approaches on monumentality? How much are especially theories focussing on the organisation of labour and cooperation influenced by western-capitalist views on economy and labour organisation?
  • How can a comparative approach that includes ethno archaeology be useful for studies on monumentality? Where can similarities and dissimilarities be found in broad studies on this topic?

In the following days, the workshop lectures given by Christian Jeunesse (University of Strasbourg), Tilok Thakuria (North-Eastern Hill University, Tura campus, Meghalaya), Luc Laporte (University of Rennes), Marco Mitri (UCC, Shillong), Colin Richards (Orkney College. University of Highlands & Islands) and Johannes Mueller (University of Kiel) provided comparative perspectives on different forms and aspects of monumentality. In the context of the surrounding monumental architecture of the Nagaland Region and with the expertise of participating specialists from Northeast India, these events draw special attention to the “Naga Megaliths”, a connecting facet of the daily experience.
As one main organisers and supporters of the events, the PhD candidate Maria Wunderlich and CRC 1266 and GSHDL speaker Johannes Müller contributed with their long-term experience in research on prehistoric monumentality in Europe achieved during the DFG Priority Programme 1400 “Early monumentality and Social Differentiation”.
Johannes Müller described his staying in India as following: “It’s a new practice to bringing together European and Indian student tandems for presentations on one topic and also to organise the workshop along structural comparisons of Northeast-Indian and European transformations. As a whole, this is a forward-looking format for international academic communication and graduate education on equal terms”.
For Johanna Brinkmann (contact), the workshop offered important ethnoarchaeological insights into rituals and practices of monumental stone architecture that will help her to complete her PhD research on “Theories on Neolithic Monumentality”, that she is conducting in the frame of the CRC 1266 subproject A1 “Theories of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies”. Liudmila Shatilo (contact), PhD candidate for the CRC 1266 subproject D1 “Population agglomerations at Tripolye-Cucuteni mega-sites”, also addresses questions related to monumentality in respect to mega-structures. Mariana Vasilache-Curoșu, PhD candidate and guest of the CRC 1266, also joined the events.


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions