Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT)

About the Community

Established: 2018
Last renewed: 2021
Timo Ibsen (
Sebastian Messal (
Tanja Schreiber (
Anna K. Loy (
Mads T. Runge (

The several thousands of European fortifications are omnipresent in almost all European cultural and archaeological landscapes. But due to their size, complexity and heterogeneity they are 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 their development and questions about definition, terminology, chronology, typology, functions, or their role and interconnection within the wider cultural landscape. The diversity of the phenomenon manifests itself in the many terms fortifications are labelled with (i.e, hillforts, strongholds, enclosures, etc.).

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 GIS based studies to display, combine and holistically analyse all the various data. As there is no common strategy for the investigation of fortifications their study needs a continuous exchange between researchers to develop individual approaches tackling the individual site with its biography and challenges. As the interest in fortifications and their connections to phenomena like conflict, hierarchy, or trade, as well as their impact on the social and spatial organization grows, it becomes difficult to keep track of the almost uncountable number of related archaeological activities and affiliated publications. Hence there is a big need of exchanging knowledge on a Pan-European level by forming a community of fortification researchers with the aim to:

  • 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

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Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT)
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