Terje Östigård

Terje Östigård

Senior lecturer
Department of Cultural Sciences Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Save contact Download image

I am a Docent and an archaeologist, and my general research approach has been interdisciplinary and comparative, working in collaboration with other researchers and programmes across disciplinary and professional boundaries. Throughout my career, a central theme has been death in general and cremation in particular. Apart from archaeological fieldworks, I have conducted numerous ethnographic studies in Asia in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and along the Nile in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda in Africa. A central research theme has been global archaeology, world heritage and environmental history with the aim of understanding the role of water in history, society and civilisation with a particular emphasis on culture and comparative religion in changing environments. I have also studied cultural and religious aspects of water and the differences between rivers, rain, springs and waterfalls, and why and how certain types of water becomes holy. In recent years, a special focus has also been on the northern regions in cold climates and how the winter has been crucial in defining and structuring agricultural societies, since the frozen winter landscape is a specific demanding and challenging water world.


Homepage with online publications:



Building on more than 25 years of experience of comparative research, archaeological studies and ethnographic fieldworks focusing on heritage and living traditions, I have returned to Scandinavian archaeology, Indo-European questions and historic ethnology. The extremely rich and valuable ethnography in Scandinavia has largely been forgotten and remains today an untapped source for interpretations, in particular for comparative studies of agricultural cosmologies and deep history. By studying the similarities between for instance Setesdal Valley in Norway, Småland in Sweden and rural areas in Sjælland and Jylland in Denmark, one may frame perspectives enabling new understanding of broader development process in Scandinavian and European history. Moreover, these development processes are part of even broader and longer development trajectories in time and space. This has also allowed me to return to Nepal and re-engage with not only funerals, cremations and sacrifices, but also cultural processes of change and continuity in the past.


I am director of studies in Archaeology. 


Article in journal (Refereed)