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Odd deposits and average practice. A critical history of the concept of structured deposition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2012

Abstract

This paper presents a critical history of the concept of ‘structured deposition’. It examines the long-term development of this idea in archaeology, from its origins in the early 1980s through to the present day, looking at how it has been moulded and transformed. On the basis of this historical account, a number of problems are identified with the way that ‘structured deposition’ has generally been conceptualized and applied. It is suggested that the range of deposits described under a single banner as being ‘structured’ is unhelpfully broad, and that archaeologists have been too willing to view material culture patterning as intentionally produced – the result of symbolic or ritual action. It is also argued that the material signatures of ‘everyday’ practice have been undertheorized and all too often ignored. Ultimately, it is suggested that if we are ever to understand fully the archaeological signatures of past practice, it is vital to consider the ‘everyday’ as well as the ‘ritual’ processes which lie behind the patterns we uncover in the ground.

Type
Discussion Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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