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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeology is a discipline for which time is central, and although the methodological importance of the concept has been a constant source of interest (especially in relation to dating and chronology), theoretically it has only come under the spotlight in the last two decades. Rather than offer a summary of the literature and approaches, this contribution will explore time through a series of temporal concepts, drawing out paradoxes and problems in an attempt to map out a set of key issues. The chapter begins by exploring the idea of temporal succession and its basis in chronologies before moving onto the problem of contemporaneity: what does it mean to say two sites or two events are contemporary? The idea of temporal succession is then also explored in relation to a third concept, change. Both concepts—contemporaneity and change—raise critical problems with a successional view of time, and expose the limitations of a purely chronological view of the archaeological record. As an alternative, the chapter then explores the concept of memory in archaeology and how it has been deployed in studies of past people’s perceptions of time, although ultimately it is argued that archaeology itself should be regarded as a form of memory work in relation to the problem of forgetting.

Keywords: succession, contemporaneity, change, memory, forgetting

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