Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Archaeology, Anthropology and the Stuff of Time

Yarrow, T.

Archaeology, Anthropology and the Stuff of Time Thumbnail



Lucas's discussion of contemporaneity makes an important contribution to archaeological understandings of chronology and dating and to broader debates about temporality. Extending his earlier work on time (Buchli and Lucas 2001; Lucas 2001; 2005), Lucas's central insight is that contemporaneity is not a function of a shared unit of time but of the specific relations through which objects are imbricated. The approach is likely to have profound implications for archaeological approaches to chronology. Whether or not it undermines the current preoccupation with absolute dating, it should certainly give renewed impetus to those branches of archaeology that make it possible to examine time as a matter of the specific material properties of artefacts. This is important, first, because it opens up the possibility of more nuanced empirical understanding of the very stuff of time (literally how it is materially manifest) and, second, because such empirical understandings enable conceptual refinement and extension of the categories through which time is understood. Of broader interest for non-archaeological readers are the ramifications of this discussion of contemporaneity for the ways in which time is investigated and conceptualized. Writing as an anthropologist, interested but with no expertise in archaeological dating, it is these latter considerations that I want to pursue in my comments, as these relate to contemporaneity and to the broader investigation of time.


Yarrow, T. (2015). Archaeology, Anthropology and the Stuff of Time. Archaeological Dialogues, 22(1), 31-36.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2015
Deposit Date May 28, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 3, 2015
Journal Archaeological Dialogues
Print ISSN 1380-2038
Electronic ISSN 1478-2294
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Pages 31-36


Accepted Journal Article (286 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015. This paper has been published in a revised form, subsequent to editorial input by Cambridge University Press in 'Archaeological Dialogues' (22: 1 (2015) 31-36)

You might also like

Downloadable Citations