Vol. 75 No. 1 (2023)
Topical Review

Ontological turns in archaeology and material culture studies: archaeology as a discipline about ‘things’

Ladislav Čapek
Katedra archeologie FF ZČU, Sedláčkova 15, CZ-306 14 Plzeň, Czech Republic

Published 25-09-2023


  • object-oriented ontology,
  • material culture,
  • actor-network theory,
  • entanglement,
  • symmetrical archaeology,
  • new materialism,
  • assemblage thought
  • ...More

How to Cite

Čapek, L. (2023). Ontological turns in archaeology and material culture studies: archaeology as a discipline about ‘things’. Archeologické Rozhledy, 75(1), 68–98. https://doi.org/10.35686/AR.2023.5


The article introduces object-ontological theoretical and epistemological approaches that are discussed mainly in Western European (Anglo-American) archaeological communities. These approaches have the ambition, at least some of them claim, to become new theoretical thinking and to radically change the existing conception of archaeology, especially the study of material culture. The review describes and assesses the different approaches (actor-network theory, entanglement, symmetrical archaeology, new materialisms, assemblage thought) that examine relations between humans and non-humans and deal with ‘things’ as social and material objects with their own agency. Where possible, the approaches are explained through specific examples of interpretations of the archaeological record.


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