The University of Tartu has conferred the degree of Honorary Doctor of Archaeology on Professor Aleksander Pluskowski for his outstanding achievements in medieval archaeology and long-term successful cooperation with researchers of the University of Tartu.
Aleksander Pluskowski was born in London on 8 September 1977 into a family of Polish émigrés. Pluskowski graduated from the University of Cambridge in archaeology and anthropology in 1999 and defended his doctoral thesis at the same university in 2003. He worked at the University of Cambridge as junior research fellow and research fellow in 2003–2007 and at the University of Reading as lecturer of medieval archaeology in 2007–2016, being employed there as Associate Professor of Medieval Archaeology from 2016.
The research activities of Aleksander Pluskowski concern environmental aspects of medieval archaeology: environmental transformation, zooarchaeology, the relations between humans and animals, and nature and culture. The list of activities also includes the archaeologies of crusading and colonisation, as well as religious transformations, especially in frontier areas. His core interest has been the involvement of the peripheries of Europe in the cultural spheres of medieval Europe, especially in its environmental history, military and religious aspects. Wide-ranging international recognition was provided by the project The Ecology of Crusading (2010–2014) focusing on the environmental changes related to the crusades in the Baltic Sea region – in Prussia and Livonia. After the end of this project similar research topics were developed from 2018 in another frontier of medieval Europe – in Spain, within the project Landscapes of (Re)Conquest.
Pluskowski is the author of two monographs and editor of four books, including the two-volume Terra Sacra (2019) – output of The Ecology of Crusading project, as well outputs in the high-ranking journal Medieval Archaeology and editor of the series History of the Environment. He is a highly demanded invited speaker, a member of numerous leading committees, boards and review panels.
The cooperation of the University of Tartu with Aleksander Pluskowski was established when preparing The Ecology of Crusading project which included international fieldwork in Estonia, Latvia and Poland, and it has continued after the end of the project. The doctoral students of the University of Tartu have gained personal contacts and practical teaching at the University of Reading, the possibilities of its labs have been open for our research. Cooperation with Aleksander Pluskowski has influenced the development of archaeology of the University of Tartu – both concerning the application of new methods, as well as with interpreting general processes of medieval archaeology. It has advanced the development of research networks, created new contacts and contributed to the integration of our researchers into the international research community. This cooperation has provided innovative setups of problems, new methodologies, viewpoints and theoretical concepts, increasing the interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary dimension of Estonian archaeology. The reputation, recognition and visibility of the archaeological research done in the field of medieval archaeology in Estonia and the University of Tartu has considerably increased thanks to good cooperation with Aleksander Pluskowski.