Time perspectives, palimpsests and the archaeology of time

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641 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-223
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Contemporaneity
  • Durational present
  • Epirus
  • Palimpsest
  • Time perspectivism
  • Timescale


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