Reinhard Bernbeck

Name: Reinhard Bernbeck

Title:     Professor Emeritus


Research Interests

  • archaeology of ancient Western Asia
  • Marxist archaeology and critical approaches in archaeology
  • archaeology of the 20th century
  • the role of narrative structures in archaeological discourse
  • memory, cultural heritage and the politics of archaeological praxis
  • inequality / political economy in prehistory


MA, PhD, Habilitation at Freie Universität Berlin
D.E.U.G., Paris-Sorbonne


My research has led me to investigations of sites and regions located in the present-day countries of Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Turkmenistan that underwent a change from largely egalitarian social traditions to starkly unequal, hierarchized societies. I explore elements that run counter to a standard narrative that suggests an incessant drive towards greater social complexity. Since 2012, I have become involved in the archaeology of the 20th century in Germany. In this area, I focus in particular on the ethical dimension of gaps in evidence. In doing so, I rely on the work of Walter Benjamin and on Axel Honneth’s philosophy of recognition.  

Recent publications

2020     Violence in Archaeology and the Violence of Archaeology. In Christopher N. Matthews and Bradley D. Phillippi, eds.: Archaeologies of Violence and Privilege, pp. 15-38. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

2020    The Archaeology of State Terror: The Example of Nazi Germany. In Bruno Rosignoli, Carlos Marín Suarez and Carlos Tejerizo-García, eds.: Arqueología de la dictadura en Latinoamérica y Europa Occidental. Violencia, resistencia, resiliencia, pp. 210-224. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

2019    Monumental Negligence: The Difference between Working and Alienated Labor. In Federico Buccellati, Sebastian Hageneuer, Sylva van der Heyden und Felix Levenson, eds. Size Matters – Understanding Monumentality across Ancient Civilizations, pp. 133-156. Bielefeld: transcript.

2019    Squatting in the Iron Age: An Example of Third Space in Archaeology. eTopoi 8: 1-20.

2018    A Future Archaeology of Modernity in Palestine. In Reinhard Bernbeck, Arwa Badran and Susan Pollock, eds.: Reclaiming the Past for the Future: Oral History, Craft and Archaeology. Adel Yahya in Memoriam, pp. 295-319. Berlin: ex oriente (with Susan Pollock).

2017    Kerstin Hoffmann, Reinhard Bernbeck and Ulrike Sommer, eds.: Between Memory Sites and Memory Networks. Berlin: edition topoi.

2017    Materielle Spuren des nationalsozialistischen Terrors. Zu einer Archäologie der Zeitgeschichte. Bielefeld: transcript.