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Research areas

Ancient history

As a research area, Ancient Cultures and Societies (previously called Classical Archaeology and Ancient History) has been represented at the University of Gothenburg since 1934. In Sweden main bulk of research is focused on excavations in the Mediterranean region. In Gothenburg the subject still has an archaeological profile which is combined with an interest in new areas of research.

Within archaeology the emphasis has been on the earliest cultures in the eastern Mediterranean region (above all Cyprus, Crete, the Greek mainland and the islands) and on Italic prehistory, mainly etruscology. This type of research is closely related with excavation projects from the last few decades, often carried out in collaboration with the Swedish Institutes in Athens (e.g. the excavations at Asine) and Rome (the Acquarossa project, an exploration of an Etruscan town with participation of the universities of Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm, and Uppsala). Recently the Roman period has also been included through the excavations in Pannonia (Hungary).

Another important area is art and architecture. The material studied has often emanated from Swedish excavations, but in recent years the research projects and the dissertation topics have become less dependent on excavations. Iconographic research, especially the examination of the impact that images had in ancient times, has grown in importance. Recent research projects tend to deal with historical times to a greater extent than before. Inscriptions and literary texts are now accessible and can be used as sources which has led to an increase in textual research. Gender research is another example of more recent research projects and dissertation topics. In this type of research, traditional sources are studied from a new perspective.


Traditionally the research pursued at the Department has contained elements of critical theory and social criticism. In the last few years the social role of archaeology has become more important, in relation to both the historical perspective and cultural heritage management. Gender research also has an important role at the Department.

Collaboration with museums in the west of Sweden (especially the City Museum of Gothenburg and the county museums in Halmstad, Uddevalla, Vänersborg, and Skara) and with the Mölndal office of the Central Board of National Antiquities is of special importance. An annual symposium, where papers are presented about the activities of the previous year, is hosted by the Department for all the archaeologists in the region and has become a permanent fixture in January.

In the past few years we have collaborated with other departments in the development of several major research projects regionally, nationally, and internationally. Thanks to external financing of projects we have an active research team including many externally financed research positions. The AREA project (The Archives of European Archaeology), partly financed by the EU, is one example of our participation in strategic international research.


For quite some time our research interests have covered a wide range of topics. This is especially true of the doctoral dissertations; traditionally doctoral students have had great freedom of choice as regards their dissertation topics. Because of the recent reformation of doctoral studies in Sweden, we are now striving to concentrate the research to fewer areas.

Medieval history

Medieval history has attracted increasing interest in the last few years, and it is now something of a speciality at the Department especially as the earlier Middle Ages are not really studied systematically anywhere else in Sweden. There are roughly ten doctoral students specializing in medieval history, investigating questions about power, land, and ownership.

Cultural and social history in the Early Modern period (ca 1500-1850)

For a long time, research into social history of the Early Modern period has been pursued at the Department; for example agrarian development, population growth, and urban development. Cultural history is another strong area.  One of our specialities is to combine these two research areas and study the interaction of social conditions and the cultural sphere.

Modern history (after the mid-19th century)

A major portion of the research at the Department has focused on the history of the last century. Here the breadth of topics has been especially wide. The connection between the three chronologically defined areas is the West-Swedish perspective. The Department has a special responsibility for research on the history of our region, and over the years a number of dissertations have dealt with different aspects of development in the west of Sweden. Under the direction of Professor Christer Winberg, the Department has coordinated the Faculty of Arts-West-Swedish programme, which resulted in a book about how the western part of the country became Swedish.

Page Manager: Katarina Tullia von Sydow|Last update: 1/14/2013

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