Archaeology and Authenticity

Marko Marila

Research output: ThesisMaster's thesis


In this master’s thesis, I have discussed the question of authenticity in
postprocessual archaeology. Modern archaeology is a product of the modern
world, and postprocessual archaeology in turn is strongly influenced by postmodernism. The way authenticity has been understood in processual archaeology is largely dictated by the modern condition. The understanding of
authenticity in postprocessual archaeology, however, rests on notions of simulation and metaphor.

It has been argued by postprocessual archaeologists that the past can be
experienced by metaphor, and that the relationship between now and then is of a
metaphorical kind. In postprocessual archaeology, authenticity has been said to be contextual. This view has been based on a contextualist understanding of the
meanings of language and metaphor. I argue that, besides being based on
metaphor, authenticity is a conventional attribute based on habits of acting, which in turn have their basis in the material world and the materiality of objects.
Authenticity is material meaning, and that meaning can be found out by studying
the objects as signs in a chain of signification called semiosis. Authenticity
therefore is semiosis.
Original languageEnglish
Award date31 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • archaeology
  • authenticity
  • philosophy
  • semiotics
  • Charles S. Peirce
  • pragmatism

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