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Ancestor Artefacts - Ancestor Materials

Caple, C.

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C. Caple


Ancestor artefacts (objects of an earlier period, valued for their age and associations, which are retained into a later period) are normally identified by archaeologists owing to the difference between the date of the object and its context. These valued artefacts often demonstrate evidence of veneration (collection, cleaning and care). Recently, the importance of fragments in referencing an earlier object and its associations has been recognized (Chapman 2000), though the detection of such fragments, even when in significant contexts, presents a challenge to archaeologists. The first example of an ancestor object which no longer exists, even as fragments, but as remelted metal, is presented in this paper. This suggests that the material of which an artefact is composed may have significantly greater cultural meaning than previously proposed. Distinguishing such ancestor material from material recycled for economic benefit or its desirable physical characteristics presents a significant challenge to the archaeologist and archaeological scientist.


Caple, C. (2010). Ancestor Artefacts - Ancestor Materials. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 29(3), 305-318.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 1, 2010
Deposit Date Dec 9, 2011
Publicly Available Date Dec 7, 2015
Journal Oxford Journal of Archaeology
Print ISSN 0262-5253
Electronic ISSN 1468-0092
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 3
Pages 305-318


Accepted Journal Article (405 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Caple, C. (2010). Ancestor Artefacts - Ancestor Materials. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 29(3): 305-318, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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