Terje Oestigaard

Welcome to my homepage! (Last updated 03.12.2019)

I am an archaeologist, researcher and Docent at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden. Since 2006, I have worked particularly with the Nile basin countries and conducted fieldworks in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Previous to my research in Africa, I conducted contemporary and archaeological fieldworks in Bangladesh, Greece, Jordan, India, Nepal, Palestine as well as in Scandinavia.

My general research approach has been interdisciplinary and comparative, working in collaboration with other researchers and programmes:

First, water studies with the aim of understanding the role of water in history, society and civilisation, with a particular emphasis on comparative culture and religion in changing environments. Climate change can be seen as the sum of weather changes over time, resulting in heavier rainfall and more floods, or less rain, more frequent and intense droughts, and declining water levels in rivers and lakes. In Africa, my main area of study is the Nile Basin region – Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt and Uganda in particular. By emphasising human adaptation to changing water worlds and environments in time and space, I strive to bring new perspectives to the study of societies and civilisations in the past and the present.

Second, mortuary studies focusing on death rituals and cremations, which is also linked to water and life-giving processes. Previously I studied Hindu and Buddhist funerals in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. In Egypt, I studied the religious role of the Nile in the ancient Egyptian civilisation, with a particular emphasis on the characteristics of the Nile waters during the flood and how these are incorporated into myths, cosmology and mortuary cults. In Scandinavia, I focus on the archaeology of death and study how death and funerals have structured societies by examining different aspects of cremation and corpses, mainly in the Iron Age but also in the Bronze Age. Finally, in a European context, I have studied the role of the materiality of fire in the context of Hell and Purgatory.


Håga and King Björn’s Mound, Uppsala, Sweden, 2017.


The Source of the White Nile, Jinja, Uganda, 2012.


Murchinson Falls, Uganda, 2014.


The Itanda Falls and Mary Itanda, Uganda, 2017.


The Source of the Blue Nile or Gish Abay, Ethiopia, 2015.


Lake Tana, Ethiopia, 2015.


Karnak, Egypt, 2007.


Aswan, Egypt, 2007.