Terje Oestigaard

Welcome to my homepage! (Last updated 28.05.2021)

I am an archaeologist, researcher and Docent at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden.

In the period 2006-2019, I worked mainly 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.

After several years with a primary focus abroad, I have returned to Scandinavian archaeology and the fascinating and rich empirical world in the north, which includes Nordic ethnology and its relevance for archaeology. My recent works include:

Vinter og vår i vannets verden: Arkeologi om økologi og jordbrukskosmologi


(with Anders Kaliff) The Great Indo-European Horse Sacrifice: 4000 Years of Cosmological Continuity from Sintashta and the Steppe to Scandinavian Skeid:


(with Anders Kaliff) Likbrud og dødsbryllup – sjelen, sykdommer og oldnordiske gravskikker:

Cover OPIA69

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.

Håga 2019.jpg

Håga and King Björn’s Mound, Uppsala, Sweden, 2019.


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.

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