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Archaeology, symmetry and the ontology of things. A response to critics

  • Bjørnar Olsen and Christopher Witmore


This article responds to recent critiques of ‘symmetrical archaeology’. It addresses three common claims: (1) that symmetrical archaeology fails to see a difference between living and non-living entities, (2) that symmetrical archaeology makes no room for humans and other living things, (3) that symmetrical archaeology lacks any sincere ethical concern for things. This article demonstrates how these claims are based on common misunderstandings or misreadings, and offers further clarifications as to its perspective on ontology, ethics and things.


Corresponding author

*Bjørnar Olsen, Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, UiT – the Arctic University of Norway. Email:
Christopher Witmore, Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, USA. Email:


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Archaeology, symmetry and the ontology of things. A response to critics

  • Bjørnar Olsen and Christopher Witmore


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