Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT)

About the Community

Established: 2018
Last renewed: 2021
Timo Ibsen (
Sebastian Messal (
Tanja Schreiber (
Anna K. Loy (
Giacomo Fontana (

Among the numerous cultural monuments of prehistory and history of our past, fortifications are undoubtedly among the most fascinating manifestations of material evidence of a widespread, multi-faceted, and long-term cultural phenomenon. Fortifications emerged for the first time about 10,000 years ago and have existed ever since. They are called by many names, such as, but not limited to: Castle, fort, fortress, stronghold, rampart, citadel, bulwark, enclosure, oppida, and hillfort – all meaning fortified sites of various types. Because of their omnipresence, fortifications continue to be important elements of natural and cultural landscapes even today, often constituting part of the respective identity reflected in folklore, poetry, prose, and arts.

Due to their size, complexity and heterogeneity fortified sites are usually difficult to examine as a whole and therefore are still not understood in depth. Despite the long research history, which goes back to the early days of archaeology itself, surprisingly little is known about general trends of the development and questions about definition, terminology, chronology, typology, functions, or their role and interconnection within the wider cultural landscape.

For this reason, the Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT) wants to connect researchers dealing with the investigation and research of fortifications and seeks to create a worldwide and interdisciplinary network for fortified sites (including archaeology, history natural sciences, cultural heritage management etc.). Especially, as the interest in fortifications and their interdependencies between phenomenon like conflict, hierarchy, or trade, as well as their impact on the social and spatial organization constantly grows, it becomes difficult to keep track of the almost uncountable number of related archaeological activities and affiliated publications. Hence, there is a necessity of exchanging knowledge on a worldwide level. COMFORT, therefore, wants to offer a discussion and exchange platform for interested researchers, conservators and stakeholders of other disciplines and sectors.

Today’s archaeologists can use a whole range of new powerful investigation methods beside excavations: geophysics, aerial photography and LIDAR scanning, Pollen analysis, drilling, geochemical soil analysis, microstratigraphy, C14-dating and dendrochronology as well as GIS based studies to display, combine and holistically analyse all the various data. However, since there is no common strategy for the investigation of fortifications, the identification/clarification of research issues and the implementation of joint investigations strategies becomes another main task of COMFORT.

COMFORT hence wants to exchange fortification related knowledge on a Pan-European level by the following objectives:

  • Offer a discussion platform and enlarge the network of fortification researchers
  • Encourage the study and exchange of information relating to fortification research
  • Identify current research issues
  • Implement joint investigation strategies
  • Contribute to the development of frameworks to interpret fortifications
  • Develop common documentation standards
  • Promote the EAA among archaeologists studying fortifications
  • Organise and coordinate sessions dedicated to the archaeology of fortifications and related structures at EAA Annual Meetings, particularly including sessions of general interest allowing for wide participation
  • Foster cross-European networks and collaborations

These objectives of COMFORT are not only discussed during the sessions at the annual EAA-conferences, but also through regular workshops and online events.

COMFORT is also institutionally anchored at the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig (Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT) - Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie (ZBSA) — Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie) and is present on Facebook ( and Twitter (, to include also non-EAA members.

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Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT)
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