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Objects of the Past in the Past: Investigating the Significance of Earlier Artefacts in Later Contexts
edited by Matthew G. Knight, Dot Boughton and Rachel E. Wilkinson. Paperback; 203x276mm; 77 figures, 11 tables (43 pages in colour). 89 2019. Available both in print and Open Access. Printed ISBN 9781789692488. Epublication ISBN 9781789692495.
Book contents page
How did past communities view, understand and communicate their pasts? And how can we, as archaeologists, understand this? In recent years these questions have been approached through studies of the extended occupation and use of landscapes, monuments and artefacts to explore concepts of time and memory. But what of objects that were already old in the past? Interpretations for these items have ranged from the discard of scrap to objects of veneration. Evidence from a range of periods would suggest objects of the past were an important part of many later societies that encountered them, either as heirlooms with remembered histories or rediscovered curiosities from a more distant past.

For the first time, this volume brings together a range of case studies in which objects of the past were encountered and reappropriated. It follows a conference session at the Theoretical Archaeological Group in Cardiff 2017, in which historians, archaeologists, heritage professionals and commercial archaeologists gathered to discuss this topic on a broad (pre)historical scale, highlighting similarities and contrast in depositional practices and reactions to relics of the past in different periods. Through case studies spanning the Bronze Age through to the 18th century AD, this volume presents new research demonstrating that the reappropriation of these already old objects was not anomalous, but instead represents a practice that recurs throughout (pre)history.

About the Editors
Matthew G. Knight is the curator of the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age collections at National Museums Scotland and Chair of the Later Prehistoric Finds Group. He specialises in the production, use and deposition of Bronze Age metalwork and completed his PhD on the deliberate destruction of metalwork in south-west England in 2018. He continues to be fascinated by destructive practices across Europe and is currently preparing a monograph on the subject. Matt’s MA thesis concerned out-of-time Bronze Age metalwork and he is frequently distracted by the relationship people in the past held with their own pasts and their treatment of already old material culture in the Bronze Age, or indeed any other time period.

Dot Boughton originates from Germany and is a prehistoric metalwork specialist who now works as a freelancer and translator in Cumbria. Dot did her undergraduate degree at the Freie Universität Berlin and moved to England in 1999, where she completed an MSt (2000) and MPhil (2001) in Anglo-Saxon Archaeology at the University of Oxford. In 2015 she completed her PhD dissertation on Early Iron Age socketed axes in Britain at the University of Central Lancashire. Dot was the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s Finds Liaison Officer for Lancashire and Cumbria from 2005–2017 and the Curator of Archaeology for Lancashire Museums 2017–2018. She worked for Oxford Archaeology (North) as their Finds, Archives and Environmental Officer from 2018–2019. Dot is now a freelance small finds specialist, writing metalwork reports for units and museums. She also translates historical German documents into English and vice versa.

Rachel E. Wilkinson is an archaeologist and numismatist and her AHRC-funded PhD examined the Iron Age metalwork object hoards from Britain (800 BC – AD 100), creating a national database for Iron Age object hoards which examined their contents, regional distribution and interaction with coin hoards. Previous positions during her PhD include Documentation Assistant and Project Curator: Romano-British collections at the British Museum, she currently freelances as a small finds specialist, editor and historical consultant.


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