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Time perspectives, palimpsests and the archaeology of time

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JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2006
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2007
Issue number2
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)198-223
Early online date23/10/06
Original languageEnglish


This paper explores the meaning of time perspectivism, its relationship to other theories of time used in archaeological interpretation, and the ways in which it can be implemented through an analysis of the palimpsest nature of the material world we inhabit. Palimpsests are shown to be a universal phenomenon of the material world, and to form a series of overlapping categories, which vary according to their geographical scale, temporal resolution and completeness of preservation. Archaeological examples are used to show how different types of palimpsest can be analyzed to address different sorts of questions about the time dimension of human experience, and the relationship between different types of processes and different scales of phenomena. Objections to the apparently deterministic and asocial character of time perspectivism, and its apparent neglect of subjective experience and individual action and perception, are dealt with. The line of thinking developed here is used, in its turn, to critique other approaches to the archaeology of time, and conventional understandings of the relationship between past, present and future. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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© 2006 Elsevier Inc. This is an author produced version of a paper published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • contemporaneity, durational present, epirus, palimpsest, time perspectivism, timescale, PREHISTORY

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