Archaeology, symmetry and the ontology of things. A response to critics

Bjørnar Olsen, Christopher Witmore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


This article responds to recent critiques of 'symmetrical archaeology'. It addresses three common claims: (1) that symmetrical archaeology fails to see a difference between living and non-living entities, (2) that symmetrical archaeology makes no room for humans and other living things, (3) that symmetrical archaeology lacks any sincere ethical concern for things. This article demonstrates how these claims are based on common misunderstandings or misreadings, and offers further clarifications as to its perspective on ontology, ethics and things.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-197
Number of pages11
JournalArchaeological Dialogues
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2 2015


  • ethics
  • ontology
  • symmetrical archaeology
  • symmetry
  • things


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