"Our Past is Not the Other"—Anthropological Archaeology and Academic Peripheries in Central Europe

Author(s): Matthew Murray

Year: 2018


As an archaeologist who practices and teaches holistic anthropology and has long been fascinated by the rich prehistory of Central Europe, I am shy about sharing my anthropological tendencies with German colleagues. When I do, I am often greeted with surprise, confusion, and a polite suggestion that I should be in Papua New Guinea or other places where German anthropologists engage with people who are perceived as different from contemporary Europeans. In Central Europe, archaeology is traditionally tied to history and the people of its past are often assumed to be just like "us." Interpretive frameworks to explain the Iron Age, have long been derived from European medieval history, such as the concept of the Fürstensitz ("princely seat") of the early Iron Age, or from the European Classics, such as the notion that ubiquitous late Iron Age rectilinear enclosures (Viereckschanzen) are functionally similar to Greek temples. While a new generation of German scholars embraces critical history and social theory, the idea that the later European past is a familiar place is persistent. As an outsider, both geographically and disciplinarily, I have challenged this perspective and sometimes received an illuminating rebuke from the European archaeology establishment.

Cite this Record

"Our Past is Not the Other"—Anthropological Archaeology and Academic Peripheries in Central Europe. Matthew Murray. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444520)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Iron Age Other Theory

Geographic Keywords
Europe: Western Europe

Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21761