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On Pastness: A Reconsideration of Materiality in Archaeological Object Authenticity

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 86, Number 2, Spring 2013
pp. 427-443 | 10.1353/anq.2013.0026



This article argues for a modified constructivist approach to archaeological object authenticity which takes the object's materiality seriously. This is accomplished by defining authenticity not in relation to the age of an object but to its age-value, i.e., the quality or condition of being (of the) past-its pastness. Pastness is the result of a particular perception or experience. It derives from, among others, material clues indicating wear and tear, decay, and disintegration. These material clues, and thus the presence of pastness, can be created entirely in the present.