Animating by association: Index objects and relational taxonomies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Despite great variability in archaeological and ethnographic material culture across North America, a handful of objects are ubiquitous in assemblages of different ages and geographies. These index objects are clues to ontological principles, such as animacy, that guide the interactions between Native Americans and the material world. The impact of relational ontologies on the formation of heterogeneous archaeological assemblages may be evaluated through analyses of index objects and contextual associations. To this effect, this article presents the outline of an assemblage-based relational taxonomy, where spatial, temporal, and formal dimensions are combined with object biographies, interactive roles, and social relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-417
Number of pages11
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Archaeology


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